Normally, we think of French seams as a technique to use with sheer fabrics. However, because I like the clean interior finish of a French seam, I do a modified French seam wherever I can on a wide range of light woven fabrics, sheer or not. My modified version of the French seam accounts for the standard 5/8″ seam allowance in commercial patterns, and ends up around a quarter inch wide instead of the 1/8″ or narrower seam we would hope to achieve on a sheer fabric. Here’s how I do it.
With wrong sides together, stitch a 3/8″ seam.
Trim the seam to about half its width (so between an eighth and a quarter inch).
Here’s a view of the trimming without the scissors in the way.
Press this seam three times.
First, press it flat to set the stitches. (Because we always do this, with all seams, to set the stitches.)
Second, open out the fabric and press the seam allowance to one side, like so. This is optional, but it opens up the seam and makes it much easier to do the next (third) press.
Third, flip the fabric around so that right sides are together and press the seam flat. This preps it for the final stitching.
Stitch this beautifully pressed piece using a 1/4″ seam. This, plus the 3/8″ from the first stitching line, equals the standard 5/8″ seam allowance. Because you trimmed the seam allowance in Step Two, no bits of seam allowance should poke through to the right side after this seam is sewn.
More pressing! But you know the old saying — good pressing makes good sewing. First, press the seam flat to set the stitches. Then, press the encased French seam bit to the back from the wrong side. Then, just because I am a bit nutty about a perfect press, I press again from the right side to ensure a smooth, even seam.
And that’s it. For this pair of blue broadcloth pajama pants (McCall’s 6249, same pattern and mods as the voile pair in the previous post, with fabric from The Needle Shop), I used this seaming method on inner and outer leg seams. It gives a clean, durable seam. For the crotch seam, I used a standard plain seam with a zigzag overcast on the raw edges. Because these ordinary, everyday, 5/8″ French seams are a little bulkier than their trimmer (and, let’s admit it, more professional) cousin, they’re not so nice in a crotch seam. Ahem. No further information needed on that one.
Here are the finished pajama pants. I am now the proud owner of two whole entire pairs of pajama pants that fit. So now, if I decide to be a lazy bum on both weekend days and not really get dressed or leave the house, I can do that. Go, me?
What do you like to wear on your at-home, too-lazy-to-dress days?