My serger and I are currently not on speaking terms… it has been sent to the corner of my sewing table on an extended time-out where it is supposed to be considering the error of its ways. In the meantime, I am without a serger, trying to decide if there is any relationship left to salvage. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am in no way prejudiced against all sergers… just this one. It has been obstinate and temperamental from the day I brought it home and since its dismissal, I have been enjoying new sense of freedom being serger-free.
Not having a serger doesn’t mean foregoing finished seam allowances, however. The extra durability and professional look they give a project is not something I am about to give up. Instead, I dug into the archives of traditional sewing techniques. When it comes to seam finishes, there are several options, but my all time favorite has always been the French Seam. It encases a seam allowance in a tidy little package, making the inside of the garment look just as nice as the outside. Until now, however, I had only used French Seams on full-size garments and I wasn’t sure how it would work on the ¼-inch seam allowances of my doll-size designs. Necessity breeds innovation, so I decided to give it a try. Amazingly, I found that my favorite seam finish could be made splendidly on this small scale.
Despite its fancy name, a French Seam is relatively easy to make. The only thing you need to remember is that precision is important, especially on these doll-sized seam allowances. Just take your time, and it will be worth the effort.
Step 1: Pin the WRONG sides of your fabric together. Though this may seem counterintuitive to most of us who sew, rest assured that this is only the first step.
Step 2: Carefully sew your seam using a 1/8-inch seam allowance. Remember, precision is important, so you need to check your machine to make sure you are gauging it correctly. I have a line on my presser foot that shows a 1/8-inch seam allowance. If you don’t, you will need to determine how to measure a 1/8-inch seam allowance on your machine. Try switching to a narrower presser foot, such as the zipper foot. Often, the edge of this foot or one of the edges of the feed dogs will be 1/8-inch from the seam line.
Step 3: Once you have sewn your seam, trim the seam allowance close to the seam line to make a clean and even edge that is slightly less than 1/8-inch wide. The second seam line will also be 1/8-inch wide, and you want this seam allowance to tuck neatly inside it. If you are worried about fraying, dab the raw edges with a little bit of Fray Check or Fray Block. Press the seam allowance to one side to set the seam.
Step 4: Fold the fabric along the seam line so that it is now RIGHT sides together. The first seam allowance should be inside the fold. Press, following the seam line, and pin in place. Sew 1/8-inch from the folded edge making sure the first seam allowance stays neatly tucked inside the new seam allowance.
Step 5: Press to one side, and your Mini French Seam is finished!