Sewing Basics # 11 – The Hong Kong Seam

Another seam finish we tried at college this week was the Hong Kong seam. This is slightly different to the bias bound seams over on the Colette Patterns blog recently. I really like this one, but it is a little trickier than other seam finishes I’ve tried. I had to slow my machine right down for this and really concentrate on the sewing part. But well worth it as it’s a truly classy finish. As ever(!), press the stitching line

then press seams open…

Cut a strip of very lightweight silky fabric on the bias. This is a lining type fabric. Opaque but floaty like silk (not very technical that, ha ha! Sorry. I just nabbed it out of the remnants bin at college so don’t know the exact fabric content)….

Lay one edge of this bias strip along the raw edge of your seam allowance. If your bias strip has a definite RS  (mine doesn’t) then lay it RS down…..

Straight stitch along the edge a few mm in from the edge…

“Roll” the bias strip to the back creating a kind of narrow tube around the raw edge. Do not press….

Stitch “in the ditch” gently pulling the bias to one side as you go so you don’t catch it with the needle (this is where I had to slow my machine right down as I still find stitching in the ditch really tricky!)….

This is where the stitching should end up, without catching any of the bias strip….

Trim the excess bias strip close to the stitching on the WS….

So you now have this narrow little silky tube around the raw edge of your seam allowance…

which when you press it flat, totally covers the row of “in the ditch” stitching…

This shows the RS and WS of the seam allowance. The WS would ultimately be tacked down so you wouldn’t see it anyway. But still pretty neat, huh?

Not sure why this is called a Hong Kong seam. (It may in fact have other names) but I’m guessing it either originated there or was very widely used on tailoring in that area. Anyone know?

I’m very much enjoying “playing” with different seam finishes. Do you have a favourite? Is it ease and speed that dictates this or is it the aesthetic? Or maybe durability?
Would love to hear your views!
Pxxx

NB: For anyone not familiar with the term “stitch in the ditch” it’s used alot in quilting. But it basically means stitching in the crease of a seam. In this case the seam crease created by the bias strip and the raw edge of the seam allowance, once the bias had been rolled back on itself.

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Sewing Basics # 10 – The Strap Seam

Here’s a nifty little seam finish I learnt at college this week. Press the stitching line….

Press seam allowances open…

Trim seam allowances to within about 5mm of seam ….

Repeat on both sides and press open again…

Lay hemming/cotton tape or similar along the seam, covering the seam and the allowances. Make sure it’s central over the seam line by folding the tape in half lengthwise, placing the fold line of the tape along the seam line of the garment. Allow the tape to fall open and pin in place….

Sew a straight stitch close to the edge of the tape along both sides….

This is the finish on the inside….

and on the right side…

I really like this seam finish. It seems to me to have alot of scope for variation. In terms of colour you could have everything matching for a subtle finish. You could have contrasting tape (as in this example) or contrasting thread so the double row of stitching on the outside becomes a design detail. I like the idea of using velvet or satin ribbon. A friend of mine has scarring on her hips that is often aggravated by seams rubbing on them. This would remedy that for her! My tutor tells me that ribbon is not designed for lots of wear though so worth bearing in mind. Perhaps I could use it on a more special occasion garment. The whole finish could also be flipped to the outside by sewing the garment seams WS together and having the ribbon/tape as a design feature on the outside.(As seen on my tutor in class the other week)
Oops, sorry, I’m rambling. I keep thinking of the design possibilities of this one, so just thought I’d share!

Pxxx

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Sewing Basics # 9 – Pressing the stitching line

Just a very very quick tip. I was doing some seam samples for college today and I remembered this little nugget of sewing wisdom. As a beginner I would read the instructions “press seam allowances open” or “press seam allowances to one side” and do just that. What they usually fail to tell you is to press the stitching line first….

Then press seams open (or to one side, whichever) ….

The first press, I was informed,”sets” the stitching smoothly, uniformly and flat. This creates a cleaner and sharper seam when you press the seam allowances open. It’s all these “little” details, that you only pick up over time, that make a difference to your finish. Who knew?? Back then, I sure as heck didn’t!

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Ode to a Seam Ripper

Oh seam ripper, Oh seam ripper
How wonderful thou art
To rescue me so deftly
From another dodgy dart
Oh seam ripper, oh seam ripper
When I sucumb to messy stitching
You sort out all my cock ups
Without laughing,without bitching
Oh seam ripper, oh seam ripper
You remain suprisingly chipper
When faced with yet another
Of my dodgy, bodged up zippers
Oh seam ripper, oh seam ripper
As I make do and mend
What would I do without you
My trusty, pointy friend?!

(Anyone would think I had loads of time on my hands huh?! I am just LOVING my seam ripper, that’s all….Px)
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