France Meets Japan with a French Seam on Silk

Since “Jacket with Back Tie” from “Happy Homemade Sew Chic” is unlined, you need to do something to make sure the insides look as good as the outsides. (Actually, you should always do this, but with anything unlined, nothing says “C- in Home Ec” like a messy inside.) Again, just because the end of the world is coming, that’s no reason for the Japanese Hippie Doomsday Cult to dress sloppily.

So, French seams seem to be in order for my silk jacket. I really like this seam treatment anyway and I don’t see what’s so difficult about it. As long as you plan ahead, you’re fine. You will need more than the usual 3/8 inch (1 cm) seam allowance to get a nice French seam. Since you have to add seam allowances for all the Happy Homemade patterns, no biggie. I did a big fat 3/4 inch (2 cm) everywhere I’d need a seam – the side seams, shoulders and sleeves – so I have space for the magic to unfold.

The next step may freak you out a bit, because…. you start a French seam by sewing wrong sides together. Yep. Freaky. Because my fabric is the same on both sides, I discreetly marked the right side with a little “RS” mark in chalk on each piece to avoid confusion.

Sew the seam at 3/8 inch (1 cm), them trim it down to 1/4 inch (1/2 cm). Why not just sew a 1/4 inch seam in the first place and be done with it? Well, if you’re a great seamstress, go ahead. I ain’t. So I do a normal seam and then trim down.

Then, flip the pieces around so that they are the usual way, right sides together. Whew! The freakiness is over!

Now sew the seam again at 3/8 inch, encasing that measly 1/4 inch seam inside the 3/8 inch seam. OK? Is your mind blown yet? You end up with this:


The second seam encases the original seam, so it looks very pretty inside. It also wears well this way, so the French seam is a good choice for anything that’s going to take a beating or for delicate fabrics, such as silk.

If you want, you can topstitch the French seam down. I’d do that for a bulky garment, but since I don’t want the topstitching, I won’t do it for this jacket.

Now, I need to do the armholes. This is an easy seam for any straight sewing, but armholes are tricky. In fact, I have never tried it. I read up on it and I am ready for the challenge. Wish me luck!


5 thoughts on “France Meets Japan with a French Seam on Silk

  1. I love french seams! Good luck with the armholes 🙂 I was to scared to do french seams on armholes recently so just used bias binding instead. It’s not bad, but it’s a bit bulky for silk. Can’t wait to see how it goes.


  2. Your fabric is fantabulous! I adore French seams, they epitomise a good finish on any garment, especially ones that brush against the skin – lingerie is a good example. I have a gorgeous rolled hem on my overlocker, but for some projects a French seam just makes it special.

    Your explanation is great, it makes the process very clear, although as already mentioned, french seams around an armhole is a tricky endeavour! Good luck!


      1. I would practice on a toile first, with the same material. I always do the sleeve insertion before the side seams, it gives a more workable area. I would also trim the raw edges – french seams are delightful, but they are bulky.
        look forward to seeing this gorgeous garment!


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