14 June 2007

Flat Felled vs French Seams

Sheila asked an excellent question in the comments. She wanted to know the difference between a flat felled seam and a french seam.

The major difference in my opinion, is how the seam looks on the right side of the garment. A flat felled seam shows stitching on the right side (think of the seams on the side of a pair of jeans), while a french seam does not (it is found in many high end sheer garments). Thus, a flat felled seam tends to be found in sportier, more casual garments and a french seam is usually found in expensive evening clothes. Both types of seams are extremely sturdy and stand up to wear well. However, it can be difficult to get either seam to look great if the seam is highly curved - so I tend to use them for straight or slightly curved seams. I love both types of seams as I don't have a serger (yet) and it finishes off the inside of my clothing so that no raw fabric edges are visible.

Below, I have created a tutorial. I sure hope it makes sense - let me know if I have totally confounded y'all.

Flat Felled Seam
  1. Sew the two pieces of fabric, right sides together, with a 5/8" seam.
  2. Trim one side of the seam allowance down to 1/4".
  3. Fold the 5/8" seam allowance over and around the 1/4" seam allowance, completely enclosing the 1/4" seam allowance with the 5/8" seam allowance.
  4. Stitch down as close to edge as possible.
  5. This encases all raw edges inside the seam.
French Seam
  1. Sew the two pieces of fabric, wrong sides together, with a 5/8" seam.
  2. Trim both sides of the seam allowance to 1/4".
  3. Press open the seam.
  4. Fold the fabric, right sides together, along the seam and press.
  5. Stitch 3/8" from the fold.
  6. This encases all the raw edges inside the seam.


Tany said...

Great tutorial, Shannon!

narcissaqtpie said...

Thanks for this, I had the two mixed up as well.

Summerset said...

Nicely done. The results can be similar, especially if you topstitch the french seam's allowance down after pressing to one side.

Sheila said...

Thanks so much for the Tutorial.. After sewing my first pants... I noticed my seams looked really raw on the underside and after reading your post on the Jacket you made it piqued my interest in learning how to make it look more tailored.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Shannon - this has nothing to do with your tutorial but I noticed on your summer ticker that you only have 13 more days of school! Congrats and do you have your sewing plan in place already? Or will you go on vacation first?!

Anonymous said...

this is a side-question for summerset (or anyone who knows) - why would you want to do French seams and then topstitch like a flat fell, as opposed to just doing a flat fell to being with? Thanks!