Finish Seams without a Serger: How to Sew a French Seam

Hello friends! This is the first post in a series that teaches you how to finish your seams without a serger. I know most beginners and some intermediate sewers don’t own a serger. In fact, I’ve never owned a serger (lately I’ve been using my M-I-L’s), so I’ve had to come up with ways to make my sewing look professional without a serger. This means I need to finish the seams in some way so they don’t look raggedy and bleh.

In this series I’ll share with you my favorite ways I’ve learned to finish a seam. Many of them are relatively simple, they just take a little planning and ironing. Today I’m going to jump right in and teach you the first (and my favorite) one: French seams.

French Seams

The way that French seams are sewn encases the raw edge of the fabric inside the seam, making a beautifully finished little edge on the inside. This makes them perfect for sheer fabrics where you can see the seam through the outside of the shirt.

I recommend only using them on straight seams, or almost straight seams. I’m pretty sure even the best seamstress couldn’t figure out how to sew a French seam around a sleeve…or could they? I’m not sure, but I stick to the straight seams.

The Tutorial

In order to practice this you can use to scraps of fabric with straight edges. This is a really good idea if you’ve never used this method before. It will give you a chance to make mistakes without messing up your sewing project.

Step One:

Place your edges right sides out and sew your seam with 1/4″ seam allowance.

Finishing Seams without a Serger_ How to Sew a French Seam


Step Two:

Trim the seam allowance down to 1/8″ and fold the fabric over it, press.

Finishing Seams without a Serger_ How to Sew a French Seam

Step Three:

Using the folded seam as your edge, sew/topstitch another seam with 3/8″ seam allowance, encasing the raw edge. Your fabric will be right sides together now.

Finishing Seams without a Serger_ How to Sew a French Seam

Step Four:

Press your seam to one side and admire how beautiful and professional it looks.

Finishing Seams without a Serger_ How to Sew a French Seam

It doesn’t have to be really hard to make your sewing look more professional. It just comes down to paying attention to detail and taking the time to polish your work. Look forward to the rest of the series! I’ll be posting another seam-finishing guide every Tuesday.

Love, Jess

Check out the rest of the posts at Create Link Inspire here.


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24 thoughts on “Finish Seams without a Serger: How to Sew a French Seam”

  1. I’ve always wanted to learn how to sew, this is a great post for someone like me who has no clue. I need to get myself a decent machine and get learning. Thanks for a great post.

    1. You can do it! I do recommend getting a machine you can trust. The best brand for beginners that I know of is Brother.

  2. I am very jealous of your sewing skills. The last time I tried sewing was over 20 years ago, I made a purple dinosaur. It looked awful. I can only imagine all the amazing things you are able to create!

    1. Thanks so much! I’m sure you’re not as bad as you say. I had a similar experience with knitting though, so…everyone has their thing.

  3. I had a phase when I was 19 where I wanted to create my own clothes. I bought a sewing machine and quickly realize that it’s not as easy as I thought. I can do simple stitches by hand but sometimes I think I just don’t have the patience for it 😛

    1. I love sewing my own clothes! But it took me a long time to get where I am. Practicing a little at the time is the key, I think. 🙂

  4. I hate sewing…lalalalalalalallalalalalla…covers ears. I tried learning and still have not finished that skirt over 15 years ago….Incidentally my mum is a dressmaker. Go figure

    1. Haha, eventually we pick our battles. It’s not for everyone, but I hope these tutorials make it more accessible for those who’d like to learn. 🙂

    1. The seams that go around the armhole? Those are so tough! If I don’t have a serger, I just try to use a neat zig-zag stitch like I show in this tutorial. I really want to try using bias binding as well, I just haven’t had the chance yet. Happy sewing!

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