French Seam Construction Tutorial

Item # X-HT-300443

Here at Sailrite®, we want to help you create a variety of DIY projects in the simplest way possible without stress. That’s why we’ve created free how-to videos to help you sew seams. This tutorial will walk you through how to create an attractive French seam using the Right Edge Guide Foot Set 4mm for the Sailrite® Fabricator® Sewing Machine. If you’re interested in learning about other seaming techniques, check out our videos on how to sew an overlapping seam. (#300440XHT), a semi flat felled seam (#300441XHT) and a full flat felled seam (#300442XHT).

The overlapping seam

Before we begin, it’s important to note that this so-called French seam is a variation of French seams traditionally utilized in garment construction. This "French Seam" variation is often called: Top-Stitching Seam, Double Top-Stitches Reinforced Seam, Double Fell Seam and Double Plain On-Top Stitching Seam.

Appearance wise, this is an extremely attractive seam. It is most often used in high-quality vinyl and leather applications, such as automotive seating and high-end yachts. It’s a decorative stitch that often replaces piping and welting. We chose to sew our French seam on two panels of EverSoft indoor/outdoor upholstery vinyl from Sailrite. With the outside surfaces of the two vinyl panels facing each other, we’ve sewn a straight stitch that is 3/4 inch away from the two raw edges of the vinyl. We’ll be showing you how easy it is to sew a French seam with our Right or Left Edge Guide Foot Set 4mm for the Sailrite Fabricator Sewing Machine (#400112 and #400111). A specialty foot, the Edge Guide glides along the splayed seam of the first row of stitching so you can have perfectly straight top stitching lines that are an equal distance from the first row of stitching. This adds to the beauty, uniformity and professional look of the seam.

In the video, our 4mm straight stitch is reinforced on the underside with a 1-inch grosgrain polyester binding (#105423). That’s because when sewing a French seam for your upholstery, consider adding a backing material behind the first seam. This way, if the seam is stretched when the seat is in use, the backing fabric blocks the lining under the fabric from being seen and adds strength. To get the best-looking stitch possible, we suggest using a heavier weight thread for a thicker appearance.

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of a French seam.

French Seam Qualities

Pros:

  • A strong seam, if a fabric backing is used.
  • Looks fantastic. Many prefer it to piping.

Cons:

  • Slightly labor intensive.
  • Not very water resistant.
  • Two rows of stitches are exposed to the sun.
  • Top stitches are prone to abrasion.

Check out our video below to see the full tutorial on French seam construction. If you'd like to learn more about sewing a French seam with the Ultrafeed® Sewing Machine, check out our blog (#200698XHT).