Did you ever wonder how automakers make French seams lay flat? This tutorial by Brent Parker of Brent Parker Motor Trimming will show you exactly how it’s done.
From his auto upholstery shop in Glenorie, Australia, Brent details his process for creating a “Seamless French Seam.” Basically, a French seam without the selvage and unsightly bulk.
Pay close attention…
1. Sew your initial seam
Sew your pieces together with a very close stitch so that when you cut the selvage off you don’t see through:
2. Cut off the selvage
Get your rotary knife or Stanley knife, and cut about 1 to 2 mm from the stitches. Take your time and make sure you cut evenly:
3. Now sew your French seam
Once the selvage is removed, you can sew your French seam.
Unlike traditional French seams, there’s no longer any selvage to sew through:
4. Flatten the Seam
Before you attach the panel, lay the piece on a bench and hammer down the seam. This makes it lay a little bit flatter.
These two photos have the seam glued:
Notice how there’s virtually no bulk, even when wrapped around corners:
5. Wrap your interior trim
Here are some photos of this technique on some door handles:
Pros and Cons
There are a few different ways a French seam can be done, and there’s no right or wrong way. You just have to know which technique suits what you’re doing best. This method has its pros and its cons.
- Absolutely no step-up to the stitches, has slight rise between stitches but this is fine.
- Sits nicely when glued down (only glue when necessary)
- Goes nicely around corners where fit is critical
- Because there is no material face folded around, there is less chance of lifting because you are glueing to the backside.
- Takes longer and lots of practice to get right
- Because you are sewing through only one piece of material, the stitches don’t quite sit as nicely as sewing through two thicknesses.
- Thread tensions must be spot on.