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Teach Yourself to Sew

Video: Two Great Seam Finishes

Sep 26, 2011

Victoria North and Judith Neukam

Learn two great ways to finish a seam allowance with this episode from Teach Yourself to Sew: Season 2, the video series for beginning sewers or anyone who wants to brush up on their skills. Learn basic sewing techniques and gain the confidence you need to get started creating gorgeous garments.

Visit TeachYourselftoSew.com to see previews from Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

You can buy all five seasons in our store.

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  1. tzipi October 1st

    Excellent vido clicp. But I have a few questions:

    I own a serger- so isn't it easier to jsut finish the edges with the serger?

    If I finish the seams as I go along ,then what happens if I have to make alterations? Even if I have perfected the fit of a pattern, there still may be changes to be done in fitting.

    Or- can we just finsih the seam edges before sewing the seam together?

    What about sewing the two sides of the seam allowance together as is done in many ready to wear garments?

    Thank you for any responses!

    tzipi

  2. Voet October 1st

    Because the silk used on the Hong Kong finish is cut on the bias, it will not ravel like fabric that is cut on grain. Also the stitching would prevent raveling beyond that point even for on grain cuts.

  3. PointPatou September 30th

    regal80:

    You leave it unfinished. If you turned and folded it under again it would be a bound (double bound?) finish, which is another type of seam finish. That one introduces bulk and is not always desirable. Because the strips are cut on the true bias they tend not to ravel.

    I like to cut bias strips with a rotary cutter when possible because I get a much cleaner edge when I do.

  4. PointPatou September 30th

    ZippyLady:


    Seam finishes are left for uh, the finish because seam allowances may change over the course of constructing a garment. A little extra room may be needed for fitting, the sewer may have gone over by a 1/16 of an inch here and there. At the end, the seam allowances can be checked and trimmed to conform to each other if they're no longer identical.

    WhiteDiamond:

    I prefer enclosed seams, too, but they can't always be used, for example, on an unlined wool jacket. For that I'd use a Hong Kong finish.

  5. User avater Zippylady September 28th

    delovleo - The excess bias in the back of the seam allowance is trimmed after the second sewing is done. Folding it over would add additional bulk which on some fabrics would show on the fashion fabric when ironed. I leave a 1/4" past the second stitching line. It won't be seen so it doesn't even have to be neat.

    Another thing to think about is adding the Hong Kong finish to the seam allowances before constructing the garment. It is easier.

  6. User avater Zippylady September 28th

    delovleo - The excess bias in the back of the seam allowance is trimmed after the second sewing is done. Folding it over would add additional bulk which on some fabrics would show on the fashion fabric when ironed. I leave a 1/4" past the second stitching line. It won't be seen so it doesn't even have to be neat.

    Another thing to think about is adding the Hong Kong finish to the seam allowances before constructing the garment. It is easier.

  7. MerrySunshine September 28th

    I agree with Delovleo. I noticed too that a step is missing: pressing under the back edge 1/4 inch before sewing it down. If that is not the case, a raw edge would be exposed to wear and tear.

  8. User avater Zippylady September 28th

    The Hong Kong finish has been my favorite seam finish for several years. I like using a contrasting color or print for a fun look particularly on unlined jackets. Yes the underside is left raw. It is bias so it won't ravel.

  9. Sewandsews September 28th

    Has everyone forgotten about "Hug Snug" Seam Binding by Lawrence Schiff Silk Mills? It's available in a multitude of colors, and is far superior to Seams Great in my book. Granted I wouldn't put it on a quilt for a binding, too narrow and fine, but it works wonderfully as a seam finish, and is very affordable. Most fine fashion fabric stores carry it.

  10. sewsherry September 28th

    Do you need to prewash the bias?

  11. delovleo September 28th

    It strikes me that with 3 of the first 6 comments being on the subject of whether the back side of the Hong Kong seam finish is a raw or a finished edge that, assuming anyone's paying attention, those who make the video series would address the point. Here's my take:

    Another comment about the video instructions for a Hong Kong seam finish: When the bias strip is cut at 1" wide and attached to the raw edge of the seam by a 1/4" seam, which is then pressed back on itself and the bias strip turned to the back side of the seam, the front side has only taken up 1/2" of the bias strip, leaving 1/2" for the back side of the seam.

    Even though it's never stated as such, looking at the video there are two points where it seems fairly clear the raw edge at the back side has in fact been folded under. For one, looking back at the start of the second pass of stitching, the surplus end of the bias strip appears folded, not flat, where the second pass begins, implying what is not stated in the video, that the back edge is not left with a raw edge but rather is a folded-over finish.

    Secondly, in the shot at the end of the video that shows front and back of the Hong Kong seam finish, the dimensions of the seam finish on front and back sides certainly look equal, and we already know the front was finished at 1/4".

    What say you?

  12. WhiteDiamond September 28th

    I've never quite understood Hong Kong finish--you still have a raw edge of the binding on the other side of the seam allowance, so, even if it doesn't show, there's still a risk it will pull out of the stitching at some point. I use French, false French, or flat-felled seams for pretty much everything.

  13. dreamlady September 28th

    Very useful information and very clear instruction thanks

  14. appis September 27th

    The second side is left as-is. Since it between the seam allowance and the garment it is seldom seen and it is on the bias.

  15. regal80 September 27th

    On the Hong Kong finish, on the second side do you turn under the raw edge or leave it as is?

  16. User avater Daryl_Lancaster September 27th

    Sadly "Seams Great" wider than 5/8" is no longer available. It hasn't been for a number of years. The 5/8" width is too narrow for any fabric other than fine cottons and quilt fabrics. It is my favorite seam finish for anything other than unlined jackets (where I use the Hong Kong seam finish) so I have resorted to cutting my own bias 15 denier nylon tricot to get the knit strips wide enough for wools and other thicker fabrics.

  17. User avater msewwhat September 27th

    There's something about seeing the techniques on video that makes the "light bulb" switch on for me. I won the first season of "Teach Yourself to Sew" and it is used a lot by me. I love the chapter indexes that allow me to go right to the subject I need immediately without watching the whole thing. Thank you "Threads and to Judith Neukam who makes it all look so easy.

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