Three French Hand-Sewing Techniques

Here Are Three French Hand-Sewing Techniques:

French Seam

One technique you’ll want to master is the French seam. French seams are ideal for lightweight and sheer fabric because the raw edge of the fabric is neatly hidden away. Keep in mind that although the technique is demonstrated on a sewing machine, you can also hand sew a French seam, though that would probably only be an appealing option when you are working on children’s garments.

1. Pin wrong sides together and place in the machine at 3/8″ seam allowance.

2. Sew the entire seam at the 3/8″ seam allowance.

3. Trim the seam allowance down to 1/8″.

4. Open the seam, right side of the fabric facing up.

5. Press your fabric: press the seam allowance to one side, on the right side of the fabric. Be sure to have your iron set to the correct heat for your fabric type.

6. Press on the wrong side to ensure the seam is flat.

7. Fold the fabric on the seam, right sides together. Press the seam flat with the stitching on the edge of the fold.

8. Pin the layers together along the pressed edge.

9. Insert the seam into your sewing machine. Sew the quantity to equal the project’s seam allowance based on what you used in step 1. If you sewed at 3/8″ and the seam allowance is 5/8″ that means you should sew this step at 2/8” or 1/4″.

10. Continue sewing the entire seam, trapping the original seam and allowance in the fold.

11. Press on the wrong side of the seam, pressing the entire French seam to one side.

12. Press on the right side of the seam for a final pressing.

Enjoy your new skills and give a French seam a try on your next project!

Lace Insertion

This is a fairly straightforward technique and a good starting point if you are new to heirloom or French hand sewing. For this technique, you’ll need lace that is straight on both edges, a water-soluble pen, fine thread and a needle appropriate for delicate fabric. I did this on my sewing machine, but you could also do this by hand for authentic French hand sewing.

1. Using the water-soluble pen on the right side of the fabric, mark the placement of the lace. Be sure to always test your pen first if you’re not sure the markings will come out.

2. Using a straight stitch with a length of 2.0, stitch down the length of the lace, close to the edge.

3. On the wrong side of the fabric, cut through the fabric between the stitching lines, being careful not to cut the lace. Press the fabric away from the lace.

4. On the right side of the fabric, use a zigzag stitch with a 2.0 length and 0.7 width to stitch over the previous stitching line. This should catch some of the fabric you pressed away from the lace on the back.

5. Trim away the excess fabric on wrong side of the fabric, press and starch the lace.


Tiny pintucks also make frequent appearances in French hand sewing. For this technique, you’ll need a ruler, a water-soluble pen and straight pins. Again, I did this on my machine, but you can do it by hand as well.

1. On the right side of the fabric, use the ruler to measure out the marks for each pintuck. Each pintuck needs two marks. My marks were 1/2” apart.

2. Fold the fabric lengthwise, following the marks. You can start at either end, or even in the middle. Just make sure you are folding all of the pintucks in the same direction. Then, pin in place. I pinned one pintuck at a time to make sure I wasn’t sewing over straight pins.

3. Sew down the length of the fabric, close to the fold line.

4. Repeat the process for the remainder of the marks. Press the fabric so the pintucks lay flat.

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