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seam finishes for velvet

CareEare | Posted in General Discussion on

Hoping that there are some bright ideas out there.  Just finished making three silk velvet outfits and am not happy with the seam finish by serging.  It’s messy and doesn’t look professional.  I hate the idea of sewing Seams Great, you know the old problem of sewing a plain fabric to the pile of the velvet.  What is done in the commercial world?  Any ideas for next time around would be greatly appreciated!


  1. FitnessNut | | #1

    Good question. I have to make a velvet dress and jacket for a mother of the bride. The wedding is in early December, so I should be cutting it fairly soon. I was planning on serging, even though that isn't the prettiest finish, because both garments are lined. Normally I wouldn't serge a lined garment, but it will help keep the mess to a minimum.

    I'm looking forward to hearing anything anybody has to offer!

    1. mem1 | | #2

      How about binding the seams in silk cut on the cross and applied with a walking foot?

      1. HeartFire | | #3

        I have never tried this on velvet, and it would work for a lined skirt but I'm not sure you could really do it for a jacket, there is a technique called "flat lining" it looks like a hong kong finish, but its different, its in a book by Taunton called (I think) Beyond The Pattern - I can't find my book unfortunately.

        the lining will NOT hang free, its more like an underlining and will stabilize the fabric - you cut the lining piece 1/2 inch WIDER (not longer) than the pattern piece, Sew the pieces with the raw (side ) edges meeting in 1/4 in seam, then turn the piece right side out (you don't sew the top and bottom)the lining will then wrap around the right side of the fashion fabric by 1/4 in on each side encasing the raw edge. You fashion fabric is still the same size, and you now construct the skirt.

        Like I said, I've never done this on velvet, but it works great on wool

        1. Michelle | | #7


          I think that Sandra Betzina demonstrates this technique in her 'Power Sewing' book.


          Shelly in Jerusalem

        2. CareEare | | #9

          Wow, what a great idea, only thing is that it then creates the problem of having to sew a non-pile fabric to a pile fabric.  I'm tempted to purchase the velvet foot that Clotidle sells.  It has a "v" in the foot.  Thanks for offering this though, and will keep this idea in the back of my head!

          Edited 10/27/2004 2:48 pm ET by CareEare

        3. mem1 | | #14

          I wonderedabout that technique too. It is actually deatiled in a threads mag from within the last 2 years.It was an article about different methods of lineing things.

          1. HeartFire | | #15


            I've used this on a few skirts I"ve made, came out beautiful, also, the hem gets sewn to the lining, so nothing to show.


          2. CareEare | | #18

            You wouldn't happen to know which issue it was in, would you?

          3. mem1 | | #23

            No but you could look it up on the website . It was a piece on interlining and Hong Kong Seam finishes.For all those threatening to wash silk velvet you arent serious are you? I really thik that just sometimes one should resist the urge to chuck it is the washing machine.

    2. CareEare | | #8

      Thank you for responding!  I, too, serged the edges, and used the widest one needle three thread seam finish stitch on my Pfaff 4872 Coverlock.  Experiment with running it through the machine with the pile up and pile down, it feeds through differently.  Perhaps using a two needle four thread stitch would walk less.  Haven't tried it yet.

      Good luck on the jacket, lining will definitely hide the "sins".  Also make sure when you sew the velvet together you smash the two pieces together.  It goes a lot easier!

      Edited 10/27/2004 2:54 pm ET by CareEare

  2. MegVT | | #4

    Oooo, I love silk velvet! 

    Do your seams really Need a finishing treatment?  With the pile of the velvet, most treatments will add bulk.  What about pinking the edges?  Or one of those wavy rotary cutter blades to 'finish' the edges? 

    Adventures in sewing to you !


    1. ShannonG4d | | #5

      The commercial garments I have seen have mostly been lined, eliminating the need for seam finishes.  For an unlined garment, I have seen bindings, but I think that would be really tricky to do neatly without their professional equipment.

      Hand-overcasting would be a high-end finish.  On a cotton velvet, you could possibly do a mock-fell seam. 


    2. CareEare | | #10

      I definitely want to finish the edges.  The silk velvet is being used for high end boutique clothing, as one of a kind piece.  The customer is going to expect that it be lined in gold, kind of thing, you know!  Because we have prewashed the fabric, these garments will be machine washable and am afraid that in time the seams will fray too far.

      1. Elisabeth | | #16

        I think serging the edges is your best bet on garments that are to be sold as machine washable. The customer will probably expect something durable looking like a serged edge or seam anyway on a machine washable item even if it is silk. Serging the seam might work well since pressed open seam edges like to choose new places to lie when they get machine washed. Those customers might try to iron the seams then.

        1. CareEare | | #17

          That's a great point.  You never know what the seams will do after you press them open and then machine wash them. 

          Would you suggest that I even use a serged seam on a princess seam?  I know that the grain likes to pull in different directions with a princess seam and seems to lay better if you keep the two seam allowances separate.

          1. Elisabeth | | #19

            Give it a try on a test piece. Considering all the RTW garments with serged princess seams out in the world it probably will be just fine. A little practice with which direction to sew in and how the velvet behaves in the curve should give you a nice technique.

            Maybe you will post a picture of one of your creations?

  3. SewNancy | | #6

    Sandra Betzina shows this technique in her sewing book.  But, I would really hesitate to do this in silk velvet.  Even with hand basting is is a pain to sew plain, slippery fabric to velvet.  Kenneth King underlines and lines velvet jackets.  He says it gives them depth, whatever that means.


    1. CareEare | | #11

      Do you know where I can get more information on Kenneth King's technique?

      1. SewNancy | | #13

        I have his book, Designer Techniques


  4. louise | | #12

    Dear CareEare

    If it were me, I would carefully press the nap down  on the outer edge of the seam allowance about 3/8", and then do a Hong Kong finish.  It looks great.

    It seems to me that just recently I read something about finishing silk velvet and traditionally it would be pinked because the way the nap is added is like the Turkey Work stitch in needlepoint, which is surprisingly durable!  Me, I'm really partial to the Hong Kong finish.

    When I did a skirt for a friend who had bought all her fabric in Paris (France!) rather than a Hong Kong, I sewed a 1/4" satin ribbon to the seam allowance and used a smaller stitch on the outside (but not too small), then I trimmed close to the ribbon - great finish and it supported the silk moire!  She was as impressed as all get out with it!

    I may be the only one of us who thought that interline and sew all in one jacket looked like it came out of the bottom of a bag, but I wouldn't be inclined to use it on silk velvet

    Just my two cents


    Edited 10/27/2004 4:13 pm ET by Louise

    1. CareEare | | #20

      You have provided some wonderful alternatives to finishing velvet.  I need a little clarification on how to add the ribbon on the seam allowance.  Is the ribbon covering the seam allownace and you stitch on each side, so that the seam has been reduced to 1/8" each side? Can you explain it to me, please?  I would like to try it!

      1. melanie | | #21

        Is it possible that no one is using Seams Great for binding seams, even velvet? For all seams it's magic and absolutely no bulk. It's nylon and practically wraps itself around seams, can be stitched with either a straight stitch or zig-zag, and is available in several colours and two widths. I write from the other side of the Atlantic so have to order it from the U.S. - worth the trouble as it's a great finish and time saver. The card says Seams Great Products, Del Mar, CA 92014, but I'm sure it is available in notions departments. Neans

        1. SewNancy | | #22

          I have used this product and the only problem is that the melting pt is so low for putting it on anything you'd iron at a higher setting.  Like almost everything!


          1. mem1 | | #24

            If you used bias cut fine haitue silk and cut it with a rotary cvtter you can sew it on as you would normal bias binding and then because it is cut on the cross you just sew in the ditch to turn it under. It is a very fine beautiful finish and because you are using the same fiber there will be no problems with irons etc.

          2. SewNancy | | #25

            I use this finish a lot.  When I was in India last time I bought ends of light weight silk dirt cheap not knowing what  I'd use them for.  They have been perfect for Hong Kong finishs.  We are going again in about 2 weeks and I will definitely hit the yard end bins. 


          3. mem1 | | #26

            Have a wonderful time . Do you go often?

          4. SewNancy | | #27

            Thanks.  We went 3 years ago for business and pleasure.  This time we are invited for a wedding and then we will travel.


          5. melanie | | #28

            Granted, the "Seams Great" has a low melting point being nylon but this has never been a problem since all the fabrics that benefit from it, indeed demand it, are all in the low-heat iron group - silks polyesters, viscose/rayons and of course velvet which shouldn't actually touch the iron at all. If ever apprehensive about a result I would play safe and use a pressing cloth but I really never have experienced any difficulty. I have bound velvet with Seams Great and it has always worked perfectly.

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