A French seam is a simple way to create strong, professional-looking seam in any sewing project. The raw edges of the fabric are not visible, they are fully enclosed for a neat finish.
French seams are great for clothing, home decor items or totes.
They work really nicely on light- to medium-weight fabric. On heavier fabrics they will create bulky seams. For a piece of garment this might be a problem, but for a tote – it’s not an impediment at all.
I use French seams when sewing shopping bags. Since the raw edges of the fabrics are hidden, the lining is completely optional!
For my bags I skipped the lining step and I used home decor fabrics (heavyweight cotton). You could sew such bags in less than 30 minutes (shopping bag pattern here).
Let’s see how to sew French seams!
Place the fabric pieces wrong sides together, aligning the edges.
Sew along the sides, 3/8” away (even ¼” away if your fabric is not too thick) from the edge (see the yellow marking). Double this seam (stitch for the second time on top of the first seam). Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.
Trim off the seam allowances to about 1/8”.
On the right side of the fabric, press the seam allowance to one side.
Press on the wrong side too.
Turn the piece wrong side out and fold the fabric on the seam. Press the seam flat.
Pin along the edge and sew again, ¼” to 3/8” away from the edge (it depends on how thick your fabric is) so that the seam allowances on the right side are enclosed into the seam.
Turn the piece right side out and check that all the seam allowances are hidden. If some raw edges are still visible, redo the stitching on the wrong side, sewing 1/8” away from the previous stitching.
Press the seam to one side.
Here is how the seam looks on the right and wrong side.
I used different assorted fabrics from Ikea for the two sides of my bag- it looks like I have two bags!
With so many BEAUTIFUL home decor fabric out there and only 20-30 minutes for a bag, I can tell you that sewing shopping bags for family and friends is addictive!
A woven fabric with two sides is PERFECT for these shopping bags with French seams. The bag looks inside as pretty as outside, but this technique doesn’t make reversible bags!
|Fabric from Ikea too.|
Quilt weight fabric is great for shopping bags too. While the bags will not be as strong as the ones made with heavyweight fabric, they take just a little space in your purse! I made these for one of my sisters and she uses them all the time.
Do you notice that I used two fabrics for these bags? Yes, they are pieced together with another great technique – you guessed it – no raw edges exposed. I will write about it in a future post.
Isn’t French seam a great technique?
Would you like to sew shopping bags like these ones? Pattern here.