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Machine Sewn Seam Finishes - Mock French Seam & French Wrapped Seam - Part 3 of 4

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We are not yet finished with our series of finishes! If you've been following along, you know we are working through the ways to make the inside of your projects look as great as the outside. Today, we're moving into a couple more unique options: the mock (or false) French seam and the French wrapped seam. The mock French seam uses a standard straight stitch, the French wrapped seam the straight stitch in combination with a zig zag stitch. These are basic stitches you'll find on any sewing machine, which means there’s no reason not to incorporate them into your seam finishes toolbox. 

Similar to the French seam we discussed in Part 2 of 4, today's two seam finishes also come to us by way of fine couture and heirloom garment sewing. However, they are beautiful options that can just as easily be applied to home décor, accessories and more. They're also a good alternative when you need a reinforced seam finish for durability.

The similarities and differences

All the reasons for using a traditional French seam are the same for a mock French seam or French wrapped seam: sheer fabric, ravel-prone fabric, or simply because it creates a clean, professional finish.

There are two primary differences. One, the manner in which you sew a mock French seam or French wrapped seam is much easier and a bit faster. And, two, in the tutorial on traditional French seams, we stressed it was not a finish suitable for areas with a curve, such as armholes. Conversely, mock French seams and French wrapped seams are wonderful for curves, which is the primary reason you may have come across them in fine garment sewing. In addition, French wrapped seams are generally thought to be the best finish for lace and/or embroidered fabric.

Seam allowance concerns

Accurate seam allowance is always important. Similar to the regular French seam, the mock French seam can be sewn using either a ⅝" garment seam allowance or ½" home décor (and accessory) seam allowance. Quilting typically uses a ¼" seam allowance, but is not traditionally a category for which seam finishing is a hot topic, because your seams are hidden within the quilting layers. 

The important thing to remember with either of today's techniques is that you'll be trimming away a portion of the seam allowance (again, similar to the regular French seam). Ultimately, the smaller seam allowance is what makes them ideal for curved areas where you want the look of a French seam. It’s also necessary to trim away some of the seam allowance to eliminate bulk, especially if you are using a medium to heavyweight fabric. We'll look more closely at this in the actual steps for each technique below, as they vary slightly.

Tools to use

Needle and thread appropriate for your selected fabric type

Standard foot – the one on your machine when you took it out of the box.

Seam gaugeand/or clear ruler 

Sharp scissors

Iron and ironing board. Pressing is a big part of all the French seam techniques!

Mock French Seam

  1. Set up your sewing machine for a straight stitch, with the appropriate needle and thread for your fabric type. 
  2. Place your fabric right sides together. Pin as needed.
  3. Sew using the appropriate seam allowance for your project, either ½" or ⅝".
    NOTE: If your sewing machine has a Cloth Guide, as many of our Janome studio machines do, this is the perfect time to use it. Maintaining accurate seam allowances is key to this technique.
  4. We used a ½" seam allowance
  5. Trim the seam allowance to ⅜". For our example, this means we have to trim away ⅛" from the raw edge. For accuracy, it's best to measure in from the edge with a seam gauge or ruler and mark a line.
  6. Trim along the drawn line.
  7. At the ironing board, open the seam flat. Finger press or iron flat.
  8. Fold over one raw edge to meet the seam. Press in place.
  9. Repeat for the other side of the seam so the two raw edges meet in the middle.
  10. Bring the two folded edges together so they are perfectly aligned and the raw edges are enclosed within the layers. Pin or hand baste in place.
  11. Edgestitch along the double fold.
    NOTE: Depending on the thickness of your fabric, you may need to lengthen your stitch slightly.
  12. Press to one side.
  13. Looks just like a traditional French seam, cleanly finished inside and out!

Wrapped French Seam

  1. Set up your sewing machine the same as above.
  2. Place the fabric right sides together. Pin as needed.
  3. Sew using the appropriate seam allowance. Again, we used a ½" seam allowance.
  4. Sew a second seam ⅛" from the first line of stitching.
  5. Trim the raw edge ⅛" from the second line of stitching.
    NOTE: If need be, you can draw a guide line as above.
  6. Zig zag or hand overcast the raw edges together. We used a narrow zig zag on our Janome machine. Press to one side.
  7. Once again, nice and neat inside and out... and super fast!

Hints and tips

  1. In our examples, we used a ½" seam allowance as stated. It becomes very small and narrow in the end. If you are trying this technique for the first time, we recommend practicing with a wider seam allowance. You can really use any seam allowance you want; you just need to remember to account for the extra width needed for folding and/or trimming when cutting your initial fabric pieces. 
  2. Depending on the type of sewing machine you own, you may find it helpful to move the needle to its left needle position for the final finishing steps of a mock French seam. This makes it a bit easier to sew nice and straight right along the very edge.
  3. When using these techniques along a curve, it’s strongly recommended you baste all edges together before sewing. Remember, in couture sewing, most of the stitching is done by hand!
  4. Sometimes the mock French seam comes in handy when you’ve forgotten to sew a French seam – they really do look the same.
  5. And as we always say: test, test, test any seam finish on scraps before using the techniques on your final project.

Don’t forget to check out some of our other tutorials on seam and hem finishes!

Flat Felled Seams

Understanding Understitching

Introduction to Sergers

Machine Sewn Seam Finishes - Most Popular - Part 1 of 4

Machine Sewn Seam Finishes - French Seams - Part 2 of 4

Simple Hem

Blind Hem

Rolled Hem

Corner Hem


Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Jodi Kelly



Comments (9)

new to sewing said:
new to sewing's picture

will this work if i have four layers of fabric instead of two?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ new to sewing - the wrapped seam should work fine with four layers. The standard French seam is not really designed for thick layers. If your layers are thinner and can be worked with as two pairs of two, you could probably make it work. With either option, it would be best to do a small test first to make sure it's not too bulky.

new to sewing said:
new to sewing's picture

thank you! im planning on doing it in two pairs of two, so that there is pattered fabric on either side. 

ChristyL said:
ChristyL's picture

I really enjoy seeing the different seam finishes.  I honestly rush through my projects and I want to start spending more time making them look more professional (and playing with some of those alien machine feet that I have)

Alsan said:
Alsan's picture

Clever, clever, clever!  All of these projects would be wonderful in  Philip Jacob's material! Please let me win a bundle.

Kathyatemily said:
Kathyatemily's picture

I don't have a serger so it's quite helpful to see the variety of finishes available

Laurice said:
Laurice's picture

Thanks a ton for these seam finish tutorials.  I'm really hoping you do one also on a Hong Kong finish.  I read about the term but am not sure what one looks like.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Laurice -- Awwww - smarty pants; you just guessed what Part 4 will be!