French Seams on Various Seam Allowances


As a follow up to Monday’s post on French seams I wanted to post how to deal with seam allowances that differ from my tutorial since I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this. The three pieces above have a 1/4″ seam allowance, a 1/2″ seam allowance, and a 5/8″ seam allowance. Basically when you do a French seam, you’re going to first stitch half of the seam allowance for the first seam (with wrong sides facing of course), but in situations such as a 5/8″ seam allowance stitching at 5/16″ is just not going to happen, nor does it need to. Stitch 3/8″ for that first seam.

Grainline Studio | French Seams on Various Seam Allowances

From there press the seam open and trim the seam allowances in half. From left to right the original seam allowances are as follows… 5/8″ – 1/2″ – 1/4″

Grainline Studio | French Seams on Various Seam Allowances

Press the seam with right sides facing to enclose the seam allowances. You’ll be stitching the 5/8″ seam allowance at 1/4″, the 1/2″ seam allowance also at 1/4″, and the 1/4″ seam allowance at 1/8″

Grainline Studio | French Seams on Various Seam Allowances

From left to right above we have the finished 1/4″ seam allowance, the 1/2″ seam allowance, and the 5/8″ seam allowance. Hope this clears things up a bit on various seam allowances.



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14 Responses to French Seams on Various Seam Allowances

  1. sophiecrespy says:

    so very helpful! thanks!

  2. janet says:

    I love the fabric you used for this tutorial! Can you share where it’s from?

    • Jen says:

      It’s a fat quarter of quilting cotton I got at a fat quarter sale some years ago and unfortunately came without an informational selvage. Sorry I’m no help on this!

  3. Erika Arens says:

    So really I could do French seams on 3/8″. First sew with a 1/8″ and then with a 1/4″? A lot of my international patterns use 3/8″ and I was upset when I thought I couldn’t do french seams. Sometimes I worry about my math skillz.

  4. Louise says:

    I’m working on a low-quality chiffon blouse right now and French seams are the only things keeping the darn fabric from falling completely to pieces! I’m so grateful for your helpful hints.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for putting this together! Bookmarked immediately. I always find myself searching for “French seam for ___” seam allowance” before sewing (even though the math is pretty simple.. I like to be extra cautious!) and it is so nice to have this in one place πŸ™‚

  6. coralee hines says:

    Very clear instructions – thank you!

  7. Laura says:

    So grateful for your post! It’s bookmarked and I will refer to it until I get the hang of it. Many other posts show how to sew a French seam, but do not give instruction on how to work with seam allowances. Thank you!

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  9. Norma says:

    Thanks so much for the clear, concise instructions. Seems like I have to relearn this each time I do it, so I don’t do it as often as I’d like to. You’ve made it simple.

  10. Sylvia says:

    I saw your first tutorial about french seams and that was my question too: how much seam allowance. Great that you made it clear to all of us. Thanks a lot!

    • Jackie says:

      …same here, Sylvia πŸ™‚ And, I would also like to thank Jen for providing such helpful information! I really appreciate it πŸ™‚

  11. Andrea Pettigrew says:

    I know this is a slightly old thread but I thought maybe you’re still out there! So to clarify, if my pattern has seam allowances of 5/8, if I join my two pieces with seam allowance of 3/8 and trim then I still have “room” to sew the French seem and not risk making the garment too small. Is that correct? I’m just getting back into sewing after about 20 years and I have to look every single thing up!

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