French seams, Monsieur Cardin and the joy of being thrifty

I’m fortunate to have been given a gorgeous piece of vintage fabric. ‘Pierre Cardin’ is printed along the selvedge. I’ve done quite a bit of on line research but to no avail. If anyone knows anything about this fabric, do drop me a line.


It’s beautifully soft, pure cotton and includes three of my favourite colours together.Turquoise, brown and orange, in a floral print.

I’ve used some of it for appliqué on denim, cutting around the flower shapes and sewing them with a zig zag stitch.

Applique on Levi's jacket
I cut around the flowers and placed them in a scattered fashion on this second hand Levi’s denim jacket. I then attached them with satin stitch.

I also decided to make a new top for myself. I used just less than a metre of the fabric and am very pleased with the results. It’s bias cut so drapes a bit like a jersey vest top.

I love to use French seams, they work really well on lightweight fabric and add a special quality to the garment. I own an overlocker and find it useful, however, there’s something really gorgeous about making a new item using French seams throughout. I like to think about how I feel if I turn an item of clothing inside out. Is it as pleasing to look at as the outside? I’ve used a bias binding that I already had on the armholes and neckline for this one. See pictures.

For those of you new to French seams, the most important thing to keep in mind is to start by placing the fabric wrong sides together (abbreviated as WS). When you’re sewing a seam that’ll be overlocked, you usually place fabrics right sides together (RS).

So, the key to a beautifully finished French seam is to sew WS together, approximately 4mm from the raw edge. Trim any loose ends from the raw edge. Press seam flat, fold RS together with the original seam line on the folded edge and then sew another line of stitching 4 to 9mm (yes I love my millimetres!) with RS together. All of the raw edges are neatly enclosed by sewing the second line of stitching. The more confident you become, the finer you can make your French seams. The width of them will also vary depending on the fabric you’re sewing. Sampling on a scrap of fabric first is a really useful habit to get into.

French seam second line
The second line of stitching is sewn which makes all the raw edges enclosed.
Bias cut top inside out
I used bias binding to neaten the armholes and also to provide a drawstring casing for the neckline.

Tips – If your fabric frays a lot make sure you trim any threads that stick out. If not, you may see them protruding from the seam allowance when you sew the second line of stitching. It’s worth taking time to make sure this doesn’t happen.

French seams are ideal for sheer fabric but not for denim weight. If in doubt, sew a sample with the fabric you wish to use and see how it look and feels.

Happy sewing! Any questions? Drop me a line.