How to Sew a French Seam / Double Top Stitch

How to Sew a French Seam / Double Top Stitch

Eric: This video is brought to you by Sailrite.
Visit for all your project supplies, tools, and instructions.
In this short video, we’re going to show you the process of creating a French seam.
Nothing sets off an upholstery job, like this cushion, better than a French seam. French
seams are used for the upholstery in vinyl and leather products often seen in luxury
vehicles and boats. On the underside of a French seam, a reinforcing strip of fabric-
for us, Grosgrain polyester binding- is used. This helps to provide the strength of that
seam. We’re in the process of creating a cushion for a power boat. Here’s Cindi explaining
how it’s done. We have our three pieces cut and marked, and
I’m going to sew these two pieces together first; right sides together. I’m going to
start down at this end. You can see that our marks are very close. So I’m going to use
those as my guideline as I go down and make sure that they stay close on all the edges. Eric: When patterning, we created these marks
as match up marks. This is the top plate we’re going to sew together. I want this to be a fairly accurate ½”
seam. So I’m going to use this magnetic seam guide and attach it to the base of my
machine using the ½” on the seam gauge, and then I’m ready to stitch. Eric: This will be the first of three stitches.
This first stitch is a ½” from the raw edges of the fabric. She’ll be careful that
the edges are lined up perfectly as she sews along the length of the fabric assembly. She’ll
also ensure that the matchup marks are coming out directly on top of each other as she sews
this top plate together. If this assembly didn’t have shape, the matchup marks would
not be important. But as you can see here, there is a rounded shape to these two panels
that are being sewing together. So for us, keeping the matchup marks directly on top
of each other is important. The first stitch is done. Now we’ll talk
about the reinforcement for the bottom side. We want to do a top stitch finish on either
side of this, which is sometimes called a French seam. In order to do that, we need
to flatten out these two seams. I’m going to use this Grosgrain ribbon and attach the
Seamstick to it and then attach that to the seam to hold it in place while I’m stitching.
Eric: This is a 1” Grosgrain ribbon that’s available from Sailrite. It will help strengthen
this French seam. Without it, the center stitch is very weak. Basting it in place will help
us to avoid from having to line it up as we sew. So this will hold the seam in place while
I’m stitching, but it also makes the seam stronger. Eric: It is important to press down the ½”
flanges from the first stitch flat as its being basted. We’ll be sewing closer to the center so
this doesn’t have to be exactly centered on the backside. Eric: Since the topstitch is approximately
a ¼” from the first stitch, the Grosgrain ribbon does not need to be perfectly centered. For this stitching I’m going to stitch with
the edge of the foot along my seam on either side. Eric: Notice the right side of the presser
foot is directly on top of that seam, or first stitch. For a more professional look, go slow
and be sure to guide the fabric so the foot is directly on top of that first stitch. I’m going to turn it around and do the same
thing on the tan side with the edge of the presser foot at the seam line. Eric: By flipping the panel and starting from
the opposite end, we’re still sewing with that first stitch right up against the right
side of the presser foot. This last top stitch completes the French seam. A few things to
consider…we’re using a V-92 thread; sometimes even heavier threads look best with a French
seam or contrasting colored threads. For more free videos like this, be sure to
check out the Sailrite website or subscribe to the Sailrite YouTube channel. It’s your
loyal patronage to Sailrite that makes these free videos available. Thanks for your loyal

60 thoughts on “How to Sew a French Seam / Double Top Stitch

  1. Great video. The French seam that I was taught for apparel is a little different from this version. Good information to know, kinda confusing that its called the same thing.

  2. Excellent video, as always. I will certainly use this 'trick' of putting grosgrain along the inside edge, when I rebuild the interior cushions on our boat. French seams that I learned in apparel are quite different and would not benefit from this method.

    Cindi is clear, concise and expert! Eric's voice over reinforces the method.

    Go sailrite!

    Cap'n Janh

  3. I'm just learning all this at age 64 and would like to thank you for the video. I heard you say V 92 thread and I looked it up on your site so all good there but I wonder which needle to use, I have a regular home machine of relatively seeming stout construction. but standard type I'm guessing. Thanks again.

  4. Awesome video. Will the french seam generally make that joint stronger? We have a small boat and use the rear seats to step in. Over time the seams have ripped due to the pressure of standing on the seats. I'm thinking doing a french seam along those seams will increase the durability. Opinions or experience? Also, have you ever done just a white seat with a couple of seams and top stitch with a different color (blue). Currently I have 3 seams on the seat – one blue/white, one white/white. I was thinking of just making it all white, but top stitching in blue, but I'm not sure it that would just look weird? I don't see anything like that online.

  5. Hi I watch a lot of your videos which are really helpful.
    I'm trying to find what kind of seem or channel this is in my photo.
    I'm making covers for my foam canpervan sofa.
    Can you or anyone help me?
    Thank you. X

  6. Great Video!
    As newbie to this craft, I purchased the Sailrite 111 with the MC-SCR to reupholster a classic car and have practiced this French Seam with an automotive grade vinyl with backing for the seams using a 6 mm stitch, V-92 thread and tension set appropriately. With a few runs of practice I was able to replicate this method successfully but a little concerned about the seam itself and if I am doing something wrong. I did not use the grosgrain binding that was used in this video but used an automotive 1 1/4" backing that is sold in a wholesale automotive upholstery shop that they recommend for these seams. Additionally, I did not use a foam backing material in my practice runs but don't think that attribute much binding strength to this vinyl seam itself. Using a little force, I am able to separate the seams to the point where I can see the backing material behind it (approx. 1/16" and probably more if I tried) and there are no manuals or video's that explain how much effort you should be able to use to pull apart the seams or what is acceptable.

    That said, any idea how to gauge how much effort could be applied to a seam to consider it acceptable or if from the details of my question–I've overlooked something? What are acceptable stitch lengths for a french seams in automotive grade vinyl as to not tear the material and keep it ascetically pleasing for automotive seats? Any assistance or advice is appreciated!

  7. This is not a "French Seam", just a "Reinforced Top Stitched Seam", get it right.
    This is a "French Seam" :
    Big difference.

  8. Im from Chile and really feel the ones to buy one of those <3. , there a difference between the color red and white sailrite machine?

  9. Excelent vídeo very explicit, i'm glad your channel is abeliable for people who realy want to learn from a real profecional people

  10. I wanted to know the model of this machine ? And can it be used in stitching of upholstery / sofas and arm chairs?? Please revert back asap

  11. I am going ot be sewing a french seam onto a motorcyle seat that doesnt currently have it. How much extra material do I need to add to the edge of my pattern to compensate for the seam? 1/4 or half on each panel?

  12. Always enjoy your videos…and still wishing I had a Sailrite machine. But I have an inherited Brother CS 6000i with which I need to make protective covers for two smallish machines used for welding. I have created a pattern from felt and purchased flannel-backed vinyl for the covers from my local fabric store where they recommended regular all-purpose Coats and Clark thread and a denim needle size 14. The covers are for my son’s birthday in 10 days, but now I’m wondering if the notions I have are correct or at least sufficient for the fabric I’ll be using. I can get basting tape, grosgrain binding, and size 16 needles, but I am not familiar with V92 or V69 polyester thread. Is there another name for it? My worry now is that I choose the correct needle and thread so that I don’t split/tear the vinyl as I topstitch/french seam the pieces. Thank you for any guidance you can provide.

  13. I am reupholstering a couch and am trying to french seam all visible seams. I have a huge curve on the back panel, similar to the front arm of an armchair, I can't seem to figure out how to french seam. Do you guys have any tips for me?

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