Bellini Sewalong: Sewing the Shoulder Seams September 15 2014

Hello sewalongers! Are you excited to start sewing?

Today we’re going to sew both of our curved shoulder seams using French seams, a technique for hiding the raw edges of the fabric. I’ll cover this with a high level of detail, but if you have any questions, please leave a comment below.

French Seams

A French seam hides the raw edges of the fabric and can be used on both straight and curved seams. Essentially, you sew the seam with the fabric wrong sides together at half the seam allowance, trim it, press it, then sew the seam with the fabric right sides together with half the seam allowance, so that the raw edges are enclosed within the seam.

Step one is to pin your front shoulders to your back shoulders, with the fabric WRONG sides together. It’s really important, so double check that you have them wrong sides together (the opposite to how you’d normally sew a seam). The right sides of the fronts should be facing up.

Set your machine for a straight stitch. I’m using a stitch length of 2.5mm here. You can do a test on a piece of scrap fabric if you want to make sure it’s right for your fabric.

Bring your blouse over to the machine and set it up so that you’ll sew with a seam allowance of 7mm (half the seam allowance). That’s about 5/16”.

On my machine, I like to use the edge of my presser foot as a guide. So I align my fabric with the edge of the foot and drop it down...

...and then adjust the needle position to 7mm (5/16”) from the edge of the foot, using my tape measure to get it right.

Sew along both the shoulder seams using this seam allowance.

Then, trim both seams, cutting off about half the allowance. You want to cut off about 3.5mm or 1/8 to 3/16”.

You could just trim roughly half of the allowance, or you could measure this distance, up to you.

Next you want to press the tiny seam allowance towards the back of the blouse. I made a small video to show you what to do!


Once you’ve done both seams, turn your blouse inside out and place it on the ironing board. You want to press the blouse so the shoulder seam is on the fold. Here is another video :-)


Repeat for the other shoulder, and then you’re ready to sew the final step of the French seam.

With the blouse RIGHT sides together, pin along the shoulder seams, something like this.

Then, sew along both shoulders using THE SAME seam allowance as before, that is, 7mm (5/16”).

You’ll end up with the finished seam allowances nicely enclosed within the seam.

Press both seams towards the blouse BACK (pressing them towards the back is important. Don’t press them towards the front. You’ll see why when we come to attach the collar).

Want to see me press my French seams towards the back? Oh go on then.