Easy French Tacks

A few of you asked about the serged french tacks I did on my Simplicity 1880 wrap and shirt dresses. Well they are the best things since sliced bread and so easy to make. Now, if you don’t have a serger, don’t worry you can do these by machine too. You gals and guys know what a french tack is? It’s those threaded chains that usually hold your lining to your shell, like in a skirt. They can also be found on dresses or blouses in place of actual belt loops. I used them on my wrap dress in this manner and they work pretty great.

For those of you die hards, you can do these by hand and while I would appreciate your handy work and admire your enthusiasm and dedication to the pure art of sewing, these are one of those things that I like to do by machine. I’ve done them by hand and they get all knotted and mine look really crummy in the end too. So here’s a quick play by play of how to do these by machine:

For you with sergers, all you have to do is serge off a threaded chain. It needs to be rather longish. I like to pull the threads tightish after I’ve serged off and then from there you just thread that through a needle, knot off one end and add them to your garment where you need them. For skirts, dresses and pants, you would add them to the side seams, front and back seam if you like. You’ll put one end in the seam allowance of the lining, back stitch a few times and then thread it through the seam allowance of the shell, leaving a 1.5″ – 2 ” chain and back stitch a couple times there too. Easy right? I don’t think it could be easier.

To do this by machine, take 2 – 3 strands of thread and twist them together a bit. Put the strands of thread into the machine, as if they were fabric, and with a zig zag stitch, zig zag over the top of the threads. I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t going to work. But it does and its really cool. I know, I’m totally amazed by the simplest things. Ha. For even more info, I like to set my zig zag stitch at about 2.5 width and a 1.5 length (btw, does anyone know what type of measurement these numbers on your sewing machine stand for? Millimeters? Centimeters?) Pretty cool huh? I know, I think they are too. You would apply these in the same manner as the serged threads above. Easy. Peasy.

You guys french tack much? I’ll admit, I usually forget this step, but it can really make a difference with a lined garment. Any of you ever tried either of these types before?

xoxo,
Sunni

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29 thoughts on “Easy French Tacks

  1. Oooh I think I like the sewing machine one a little better. It’s nice and compact already. Helpful to combat serger envy. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the tutorial. I have used these things, but never knew what they were called. I usually use crochet cotton and do a short chain with a tiny hook. That works OK, but I’d like to try your method the next time I need french tacks.

  3. Thanks so much for posting this! And for the great photo aids too. I haven’t done a french tack before, and I’m glad to learn what it’s for, and alternative ways to get it done.

  4. Such a great tip!! Thank you 🙂
    I was wanting to add some little loops to a dress to attach the dress straps to my bra straps–I’ve seen these in vintage dresses with little snaps. Now I know how to make the thread chain.
    Thank you Sunni!!

  5. I always tack the underarm seams of the lining and shell together on my jackets and blazers to prevent too much sliding around but I always do it by hand and never thought about doing it with serger tails before! Thanks for the tip, I love to save time like major!

  6. and another new thing learned! 😀 The thread chain looks quite pretty too. I can see it as an embellishment somehow. 😀 Thanks for the tip! Will have to try this!

  7. i’ve made these both ways. the zig zag version feels sturdier (good for side belt loops) than the serged version (good for french tacking shell to lining). when i make a serger chain, i usually remove the stitch finger to get a narrower chain. i love these but don’t do it nearly enough!

  8. wow! I didn’t know that French tacks (I call them thread chainstitches) can be done by machine! I understand how to make thread chains with the serger but I’m a little confused with the zigzag stitch. Can you help me understand a little better?

    1. I think these are easier to do when you’re doing them than explaining. It’s just 2 or 3 long strands of thread that are wrapped in a zigzag stitch. Put the strands of thread in the machine bed and stitch with the zigzag stitch and voila! french tacks! Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean.

  9. I’ve only done these once—I just made a quick crocheted chain and attached it. It worked pretty well, definitely quicker than the hand-knotted kind. I like the zig-zag-over-threads idea, too! 🙂

  10. Thanks Sunni for sharing this tip ! I needed to make a French tack a few weeks ago for a dress but couldn’t find a way to do it with my sewing machine. So I ended up doing it by hand and the result is not that great. I will need to sew some for my current project, so I am pretty happy about your method !

  11. You taught me something new. I had no idea people did this by machine! I sort of do them on auto-pilot by hand at this point. I’ll try your machine technique next time.

  12. Really cool tricks to make french tacks, eh!

    I have seen them before, now I know what they are called and how to make them myself. Thank you, Sunni!

  13. I’m pretty sure that the stitch length dial (at least, on my machine) represents millimetres. It makes sense – 2.5mm for normal sewing, 4mm for basting/gathering, 1mm for stitches so ridiculously small you better not need to unpick ’em.

    I’ve never tried this, but I’ve got a vintage dress that has it as belt loops, and wondered how it was done. Now I know!

  14. I have heard of the serger method, but I’ll admit I do them by hand, maybe when I’ve finished the hem and am already comfy on the sofa watchng tv with my hand sewing supplies out.

  15. WOW, I never would of thought of this Sunni, thanks for sharing. I always do mine by hand and this takes a few attempts. Next time I will definately give these a go. Think i’ll start with the serger verger!!
    No I dont french tack unless I have to. With a serger seam it usually sits neat. Time is precious 🙂

  16. Mental note made to try this next time I actually line something. And like Lucy said, the stitch numbers are millimeters – but some older machines have different numbers which represent stitches per inch!

  17. Wow, that was an awesome project!!
    I really like that!
    Now, after seeing your project, I am thinking of making the same one for me. I have a very old sofa and the colour now has changing.
    For me, I think the ‘best’ ( I mean the most difficult one, LOL) part of making the pattern itself. But later, I will try!

    However, can you give me some tips how to make the green pillow? it’s so nice! I do like it so much especially the big button on it! I love that one.
    So, I have a question about that. How to make that button seems like goes inside. Do you put it on after the pillow done or put it on before you sew all the sides together?

    I am Kiky, from Indonesia. I hope you can understand my English since it isn’t my mother tongue.
    I am so glad because I can find your blog!

    Kiky

    1. Hi Kiky!
      I don’t know that I have any really great tips for the green pillow. Its just a circle pillow. I applied the button to the middle of the pillow form before I added the pillow cover and then from there I just made the pillow cover with a zipper in the side seam and a buttonhole in the middle. This way I can take the pillow cover on and off and wash it when things get on it as they are always bound to do because that’s life right?! Its terribly simplistic and I’m sure you could do it. Definitely give it a try.

  18. That is so clever, thank for sharing. Good timing for me. I’m just earning to sew my own clothes. I have pattern I’ve made 4 times and now want to make it with a lining. Plan to figure out how on my own and a lot of research/reading. I never would have thought of this.

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