Thinking of Making A New Chemise This Year? Here’s A Great Tip!

A mini-post for sure this is, but it is so smart I just had to post it!  When making a chemise, drawers, or a dress from a very thin diaphanous fabric (think: voile) you need to use a French seam so that your garment seams don’t unravel.  With very thin fabric the seams are often slightly visible from the outside and the French seam looks very neat.  However they are a PITA.  You first sew the seam wrong sides together, press, trim the seam allowance (hard to do evenly), fold the remaining seam allowance to the inside, and sew again.  Then press, again!

Here is a great tip from the Martha Pullen newsletter than landed in my inbox this morning: serger enabled French seams!

Serger Settings:

Three-thread rolled hem
Stitch length: about 2.0
Differential feed: .7 to 1 (normal)

1) Place the fabrics wrong sides together and serge using a rolled hem (L=2.0) (fig. 1

2)  Fold the fabrics, right sides together with the serged seam along the fold.

3) Using a straight stitch (L=2.0) by sewing machine (and a pintuck foot, edge joining foot or baby piping foot), stitch against the serged seam. (fig. 2). This stitch will enclose the serged seam between the two fabric layers creating a very small French seam. According to the foot being used, adjust the needle position as needed to stitch close to the serged seam.

Serged French Seams
Serged French Seams

No seam trimming!  It goes without saying that the serger thread color needs to match your fabric – not a problem with white fabric!

For years I didn’t think I needed a serger for historical sewing, but they are actually wonderful for making ruffles (very even and VERY fast) and flat lining, among other things.