The updated version of the Stephanie Skirt pattern now includes fully illustrated step-by-step instructions. I decided to use alternative construction options so that it’s less redundant. If you follow the pattern instructions, the seams are simple and seam allowances are either serged (or zig-zagged) or bound. In this post, I’ll be showing you how to sew the side seams and the in-seam pockets with french seams. Deciding on seam type and finishes is a skill on its own. It requires experience and experimentation. Just because the sewing pattern tells you to do one thing, it doesn’t mean that this is necessarily the best choice for your fabric, your sewing equipment and your personal style and preferences.
French seams are a personal favorite of mine. Even though I have owned a serger for years now, there were times when I only had a straight stitch machine and it has defined my construction preferences. For that reason, and also the fact that they are very durable, I am partial to enclosed seam allowances, like french seams, flat-felled seams or alternatively a hong kong finish. Of course, when working with thick materials, I will revert back to serging. It’s all about finding the right finish for the right fabric!
In today’s post I’ll be showing you a quick tip for faster french seams and how to sew in-seam pockets into french seams!
Most french seams tutorials instruct you to stitch half of the seam allowance with the wrong sides together, press, trim and sew the other half of the seam allowance with the right sides together. It works very well but when I can, I like to speed things a little by sewing different seams allowances and avoid the trimming part. Today’s seam allowances are 3/8” (1cm), so I’ll be stitching my first seam at 1/8” (0.3cm) and the second at 1/4” (0.7cm). Be aware that if your fabric frays a lot, you might have to trim anyway otherwise you will end up with what I call a “hairy” seam.
I’ll start with a step that is specific to the 46 to 56 size range. In order to maintain the design features while keeping fabric requirements reasonable, we added a princess seams in the front and the back of the skirt. They are hidden in the inner folds of the side box pleats to be as innocuous as possible.
Start by pinning the two side front pieces to the middle front, and the side backs to the middle backs wrong sides together (remember that we are making french seams!) and matching notches. Since it’s easy to get things mixed up after pattern pieces are cut, notches are meant to avoid assembling the wrong pieces together. Stitch at 1/8” (0.3cm).
Press and fold right sides together. Stitch with a 1/4” (0.7cm) seam allowances. Press towards the side seams.
Now both size range can follow the same path.
Pocket bags are first assembled on the skirt pieces. Pin one pocket bag to each front and back of the skirt, with right sides together and matching the notches. Stitch at 1/4” (0.7cm) from the edge.
Press the pocket away from the skirt and understitch on the right side of the pocket 1/16 (1mm) from the seam, catching seam allowances but not the skirt.
Pin skirt back to the front, wrong sides together and stitch the side seam at 1/8” (0.3 cm) pivoting to go around the pockets.
Turn the pockets wrong side out and press your first seam with the right sides of the skirt together. Stitch the second pass of the side seam at 1/4” (0.7cm) from your first seam, right sides together. Pivot to cross the pocket seams at the notches.
Press the pockets and seam allowances towards the front. You can add a couple of stitches on each side of the pocket opening to make them stronger and the pockets in place.
That’s it for today, next time we will be sewing the center back seam and the invisible zipper. Let me know in the comments, if you have questions.