Crescent Sew-Along #15: Sewing French Seams

Hello Sew-Alongers! Time for another sewing step on our Crescent Skirts.

After gathering the skirt front and back, there’s just one more step before we can move on to our waistbands. Today we’ll take our Skirt Front and attach it to the Skirt Back pieces.

I’ll show you how to sew up the sideseams and how to finish them using French seams. How does that sound?

Need to catch up? Here are all the previous posts!

Looking back at the list, it’s impressive to see how much information we’ve covered already! Lots of tips and tricks to apply to any skirt project in the future, too.

Let’s get started! We’re going to proceed for making French seams, so if you’re NOT sewing French seams, follow the sewing instructions. Your panels will look somewhat like this – pin the sideseams, sew them, and finish the edges.

If you ARE sewing French seams, follow along! Grab your Skirt Front, and lay it down on your table, right-side up. (Red-side up in my case!)

Sorry for the blurry photo – it’s the best one that illustrates the wrong-sides together!

Pin Skirt Back to Skirt Front along sideseam, WRONG SIDES TOGETHER. This is going to feel so wrong! It’s going to turn out just like our pocket bag did, with a lovely finished edge. Trust me!

Line up the edges and pin together the whole seamline, from top to bottom.

Sew the sideseams, taking a 1/4″ (6mm) seam allowance.

Backstitch at both ends.

Trim seam allowance to 1/8″ (3mm) or if it’s easier to think of it this way, trim the seam allowance in half.

Press your tiny seam allowance towards the back. I’m pressing it over a seam roll, but you can press it flat if you don’t have one.

To make sure we didn’t press any ridges into our seam, turn the skirt over and press the other side, too. Make sure the seam allowance is pressed as open as it can be.

Now, pinch your seam allowance along the fold, as shown. You want the seamline to be at the exact centre of your fold, not rolling to one side or the other.

Press this fold flat, rolling it out as you go.

Look how flat it is! I think this photo is cool. See how the seamline is centred on the fold line?

We’re nearly done! Take the skirt to the sewing machine, and stitch 1/4″ (6mm) from the fold line.

Our French seam is done! Press this seam towards the back.

Here’s what it will look like on the inside when both seams are done, French-style:

Doesn’t that look tidy and professional? It’s even nicer than serging, I think!

Any questions? How many people are going to French-seam their skirts now that you’ve seen how easy it is to do?

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18 Responses to Crescent Sew-Along #15: Sewing French Seams

  1. julia May 9, 2011 at 6:06 am #

    I already jumped ahead a bit and sewed my French seams and attached the waistbands (I am making 2 skirts simultaneously). But I think I am going to wait until you post about the zipper. I can always work on my 2nd Pendrell Blouse in the meantime. :)

  2. Ashley May 9, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    I’m going to do french seams too, they look so lovely :) I’m also sewing too skirts simultaneously. I can’t wait to see everybody’s finished skirts!
    Ashley x

  3. Lisa May 9, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    This was really an “AHAAA!” moment for me! I had not looked into it yet, but I never thought it would be this easy, thanks!

  4. Lorena O'Neal May 9, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    that is so easy and nice! I’m definitely going to try on my next project.

  5. Sewingdina May 9, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Thanks Tasia. I would like to try this on my skirt. I did a chiffon dress where I tried to do these seams on a test piece and it kept moving and the first seam peeked out the right side so I abandoned it. If I follow your instructions to cut the first seam in half I shouldn’t have this problem and plus I’m using linen so a bit easier to work with. Do you have a 6mm line on your sewing machine plate or do you line it up to the edge of the foot? You seem to be lining yours against the edge of the foot.

  6. portia May 9, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    I jumped ahead a bit too and have already finished my skirt! (French seams included) Yay!Technically it’s my muslin but it was turning out so well I decided to up the anti, and as the fabric was pretty nice (similar to a chambray) I decided to employ all the construction and finishing techniques to make it a wearable muslin. I love this pattern Tasia, and thanks to the extra guidance in this sewalong I have finally sewn something I am very proud of.
    I’ve topstitched all the waistband details and pocket openings, handpicked the zipper (now in love with that technique) and used contrast fabric for the facing and pocket bags.
    (Hopefully get some photos up on my blog shortly and sew another in the next couple of weeks).
    You are a superstar lady!
    Px

  7. Kerry May 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    I’m definitely going to be making french seams. I hadn’t done it before but when I made the one on the pocket I was ridiculously excited by how nice it looked! I don’t have a serger so french seams are perfect. Thanks for your great tutorials :)

  8. Cat May 9, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Tasia,

    I have read a few other tutorials/instructions for making french seams. I never got it until now. You are such a talented teacher – Thank You!

  9. Jen May 10, 2011 at 1:49 am #

    Hello Tasia!

    I’ve been pointed in your direction by a lovely reader of both of ours :)

    I’m coming to Vancouver for three weeks in June and was looking for people to either point me in the right direction (places to visit, things to see and do) and maybe a meet up for a coffee or something (I’ll have lots of time as my husband is PhD researching/conferencing!).

    I love your patterns, and have the pendrell blouse sitting in my collection waiting to be used (I have too many patterns, but then, doesn’t everyone?) and I’d love to chat more about the ‘starting your own business’ process. I’m in the beginning stages of starting a photography business.

    Anyway, no pressure :)

    Have a lovely night,

    XX
    Jen

  10. Caroline May 10, 2011 at 3:18 am #

    Defnitely going to be doing french seams (when I get to that stage, bit behind – eek!). I had learnt these ages ago and totally forgotten how great they look!

  11. Tasia May 10, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    Hello everyone! Yay, I’m so glad you found the tutorial easy to follow. It’s so much easier to understand when there’s lots of photos, showing the different stages and angles!

    It’s funny, I have a serger, and rely on it for edge finishes, but I’m much happier with my tidy french seams! So thank you guys, for suggesting I skip the serger!

    @Sewingdina: Nope, I don’t have a 6mm line on my sewing machine. I know that the edge of the presser foot is roughly 6mm from the needlehole to the edge of the foot, so I use it as a guide. I have both inches and centimetres on my machine, so when in doubt I can quickly check it against the 0.5cm line and make sure it’s just slightly wider than it. Does this help?
    You can always measure 6mm and make a masking-tape guideline on your machine, to make it super easy. (Just make sure to take it off before it gums up the machine!)

  12. Tasia May 10, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    @portia: I can’t wait to see it! You’re one of the main reasons I did the French seam tutorial as you mentioned you don’t have a serger :)

  13. Tasia May 10, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    @Jen: Hello Jen! Vancouver is a great place to visit. Lots of fabric stores, as well as other great sights to see! When do you arrive? I hope we have nice weather for you! Let me send you a separate note on this :)

  14. Rachel May 10, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    Wow, the french seams look so great. I wouldn’t have thought to do them, but now i’ve seen yours I feel I must! I have another “sewing date” with my friend who is also making this skirt tomorrow and we’ll be starting our sewing so i’ll be trying to persuade her to give french seams a go too!

  15. Catholic Bibliophagist June 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    I have a question about sewing my front to my back. Are those seams supposed to be eased in? The side seam on the back appears to be longer than the one on the front. However, I also tried to lengthen the skirt, and I did it by first using the cutting line for the bottom of the skirt from the size 16. (The skirt itself is a size 4.) And then I added a hem allowance to that. Was that the wrong way to do it, and it that why those seams don’t appear to be the same length?

    Thanks for any help.

    –C.B.

  16. Tasia June 20, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    @Catholic Bibliophagist: Hello! The side seams should be the same length on the front and back – however, the sideseam is cut on a bit of an angle, so it’s possible that one side stretched out more than the other!
    Depending on how much of a variance there is, I’d either:
    a) sew them as they line up, and trim the bottom or just hem it evenly
    b) ease them in so the hemlines line up
    I’d also do a quick check against the pattern pieces and see if they’ve grown at all. If one’s ‘grown’ longer than the pattern, then you know it can be eased in to fit and end up back at its original size.
    If it was my project, I’d ease the long side in as much as I could, without having one side looking bunchy or gathered. Once I’d eased in, I’d trim off the bottom excess.
    You can try basting the seam first, checking to see how it looks, and then sewing the seam to be sure you’re happy with them.
    I hope this helps! :)

  17. Rachel June 21, 2011 at 1:35 am #

    I noticed that my back skirt pieces were longer than my front pieces too, for both my skirt and my lining. I matched the seams at the top and snipped off the extra at the bottom when I hemmed the skirt.

  18. Catholic Bibliophagist June 21, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    Thanks, Tasia, that does help. I think I’ll try easing in and then just finish the side seam with my serger. I was planning to do the French seam but I think I’ll skip it under the circumstances.

    Rachel, did you also lengthen your skirt? I was wondering if the lengthening was how the error was introduced. If you didn’t, then I guess it was probably just the back pieces stretching because of the bias edges. (But I really had to lengthen mine because I’m too old to wear that flirty, short length.

    –C.B.

    P.S. to Tasia: I love this pattern!

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