Monday, October 10, 2011

HongKong seaming

(OK, so I wrote this post a while back, during self-stitched September, and then just got caught up in the whole outfit-documenting side of things and forgot about it... ! so it may seem a bit out of date since I made this skirt about a month ago, hehe.  But HongKong seaming is still something that is always relevant, never out of style right?  So, here goes...)
It may sound silly but I often like for the insides of my wardrobe to look as well constructed and as well finished as the outsides, like those of the upper end designer clothes that inspire me.  Beautiful finishes give me a lot of pleasure whenever I lay eyes upon them.  And it makes good common sense to give both your fabric as well as your own time invested in your handiwork the respect they deserve by finishing off as well as possible.  Why?  Because your time is valuable, and you're worth it!
HongKong seaming is a finish I sometimes like to add to the internal raw edges of unlined coats and jackets, and to those of my better skirts.  It is an especially good finish for high-fraying fabrics that are kinda special; such as silks, wools and blends of these; ie, fabrics that are worth it.  You know what I mean, right?
HongKong seaming may seem like too much hard work, but it is not really that much effort, honestly!  Big pluses; it only requires a very little fabric, looks pretty, and is the best way, bar none, to finish off the raw edges of thickish fabrics that fray easily. 
To finish off the seams of an ordinary little skirt plus enough for a wider bias binding strip to finish the hem, you only need about 40cm of a light or medium-weight woven fabric, ideally cotton or a polycotton.  Actually I only needed this much because I was cutting the pocket linings from the same fabric, you could easily get away with a lot less.  You can just use scraps if need be, no probs.  You can go with a matching fabric or a contrasting fabric for fun.  In the case of this burnt orange skirt I chose a contrasting burgundy for both the seaming and lining fabric.  (Yup, I know that no one but me will ever see the yumminess of these rich autumnal shades together, but this hidden colour punch still pleases me nonetheless!)  Wash a coupla times to remove the sizing and deal with all that pesky shrinkage.  Then cut a few strips on the bias; approximately 3.5cm (1 3/8 inch) in width.  I also measure the length of the lower skirt/jacket edge and cut a wider bias strip (approx width of 5cm, or 2 inch) for the hem binding.
Join together end on end like so, to get a continuous strip of bias binding...
Press the seam allowances open.
Lay against the raw edge of your fabric, and sew together in a narrow 6mm (1/4 inch) seam.
Fold the bias strip back over the seam and press the seam binding back over itself...  
Now fold the fabric back over underneath the seam allowances to enclose the raw edges within the bias strip.  I don't press at this stage, but just stitch in the ditch of the first stitching. holding the bias strip in place and smoothing it down as I sew.  Being bias cut; it should settle into place well, moulding itself smoothly around curves with the need for any ease stitching. (this is the inside pocket edge, and the pocket lining of the same fabric can be seen underneath)
For the hem binding, the raw edges are sewn in a narrow 6mm seam allowance the same way.  Probably the most difficult bit out of this whole procedure here is joining the two ends together in a perfect bias seam to meet up exactly at the stop/start sewing point.
The bias strip is pressed up, and a narrow 6mm seam allowance pressed down on the upper edge.  This pressed edge is simply slipstitched down invisibly in place.
Voila!  Now how easy was that?  No real biggie, right... once you've tried HongKong seaming I promise it is something you will want to incorporate into special projects again and again.

18 comments:

  1. I love hong kong seams and used them as well as french seams to give clean inner side. Now with the use of my overlocker, i do not use them as extensively i used them earlier.

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  2. Haven't commented in a while, but have kept up with your posts! :) Thanks so much for this. I've always wanted to do this (as I hate crappy seams inside clothes). Hopefully, I will master it!

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  3. What a lovely little tutorial! You are as pretty on the inside as on the outside;-)

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  4. I like Hong Kong seaming, such a vintage and lovely touch. those colors you chose are great.

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  5. Nice tutorial, and lovely color contrast. But you'd be more convincing if you showed the really quick method of making bias.. continuously! http://quilting.about.com/od/bindingaquilt/ss/binding_strips_5.htm

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  6. I think it might have been your blog where I first saw this finish done, and I've since added it to a few of my garments. I'm learning to slow down and enjoy the process, of good workmanship everywhere. That being said I won't always do it, but it is soooo lovely - and really makes your garment look well-made. Yours are always lovely!!

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  7. Your skirt looks superbly finished and I love your colour choices. Thanks so much for the brilliant, very clear tutorial. I really like the idea of clothes looking as good on the inside as on the outside - it does make a garment very special!

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  8. A wonderful tutorial. You're amazing - putting the effort into Hong Kong finishing on a skirt that has a lining. I am, therefore, ashamed to admit that I use my serger for finishing off garments with linings, and generally on anything that will not show in public. Hong Kong finishing I reserve for things like unlined jackets.

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  9. In reply to MC; "more convincing"...?
    I guess it wasn't clear that I am not binding a quilt but just the seams of a little skirt here, and I am just using a very small quantity of fabric, the scraps from a 40cm piece of fabric from which I had already cut out the pocket lining pieces which would have been very awkward to sew into a tube and then try to cut out an even width bias strip.... Making HongKong binding from the scraps was a way of economically making good use of my leftovers as well as getting a seam finish of a quality that I am proud of.
    I'm sorry you weren't "convinced" that this was good enough.

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  10. This is a really clear tutorial - I have seen some not so clear ones! The seams look great. I would like to use this for a jacket...one day...x

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  11. No, no, it's not that I'm not convinced :-). It's just that when you're pushing a technique, even if the result is very pretty, it's much more effective to do so with a quick method that cranks out the bias by the yard in a blink. None of these fiddly mini-seams, just one seam and you're done. For some reason, even seamstresses who're into bias finishes haven't noticed the way quilters do it, but let me tell you, even a small quilt will eat up enough bias to make you dizzy..

    This doesn't take any more fabric than your method, it just goes, oh say 6 times faster? In fact here's a way to estimate how much you get http://sew-whats-new.com/profiles/blog/show?id=2031451%3ABlogPost%3A67344&page=1 Suffocating, eh? I go by 20cm square gives me a bit less than a yard and a half of 1cm binding, and grope from there.

    Don't be blinded by the superficially different audience, after all quilts are fabric too ;-). And sorry if you thought I was dissing your Hong-Kong finish, I was just trying to point out it could be less tedious for you too..

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  12. MC; you must be new to my blog, otherwise you would know that I have done quilting, and am well aware of the method you are taking the trouble to acquaint me with, thank you. However I still make an individual choice of the most appropriate method to make my bias binding based on my quantity of fabric and other factors. I chose in this instance to use the method I outlined in this post. For another project I might choose a different one.
    Thank you for your kind comments; and will just add that there is nothing about dressmaking I find tedious. I enjoy the whole process. If fiddly mini-seams bothered a person, dressmaking and for that matter quilting also, would not be a suitable hobby at all.

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  13. Sure I know you quilt, but it doesn't follow that you know all about every single technique :-). This isn't a quilting blog on the whole, although it's always good to see people be a bit diverse in their interests, imho. And of course you're welcome to be as fiddly as you like, whenever you like. As long as you're clear that it's the goal :-).

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  14. It's nice to know I'm not alone when it comes to obsessing over the interior of a garment looking as nice as the exterior! I just enjoy wearing a garment more knowing the interior looks finished and pretty. I love the complimentary colours. Very inspiring!

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  15. I've never hong konged any of my seams, but it sure does look nice.

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  16. Hi Carolyn!

    I'm a regular reader of your blog and I came back to this post because I'm thinking about using this method on a wool skirt that I'm working on. I was wondering if you also finished the zipper seam this way. Would the finishing get in the way of the zipper teeth, or were you just really careful about how far you stitched? I hope that makes sense!

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  17. Hi Carolyn, I have always admired Hong Kong seams, but I assumed that they would be really difficult. Thanks for explaining it so well. I like to use quality fabric on my garments which I make, so I am happy to take the time to make them well so that I enjoy wearing them.

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