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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hong Kong Seams

Heather Dee asked on the recent pants post how I did Hong Kong seams. She had a general idea but I told her I would do a tute up the road and here it is. This is info that can be found in most sewing references but it always helps to see real pics.
  • First is the fabric choice for the seam "cover". You want something lightweight and in keeping with the garment you are sewing. If I were sewing a silk garment, I would not use a poly for the HK seams. I'd use a lightweight silk. Your fabric should be lightweight. Some use lining fabrics. I love prints for mine and find it a good way to use up those poly georgettes that seem to proliferate around here. I start by tearing the fabric and placing it on my cutting mat on grain. Slippery fabrics need to be kept still so therefore, the stones. On my acrylic ruler is a 45º angle which you can see if you click on the picture. This line is placed on the horizontal on the cutting mat. This gives me the proper angle to cut my strips at. As I continue cutting strips, I move the ruler to give me a one and a quarter inch width on each strip. If you are unable to make strips long enough for your project, you can overlap them on the garment seam allowance. If the strips are cut at right angles that cut will be on the bias and won't fray. So if my strip is not long enough, I just lay another on top, overlapping about a 1/4 inch. (I know there are other ways to cut long strips and I will do a tute on that some time. I don't know anyone who uses the method I do but that is for another day. ) I find strips cut from a 45 inch width at a 45º angle are long enough for most garment seams. You are dealing with mostly short lengths here.
If you have one put your edge stitching foot on the machine. I set it one click from the farthest left. Put the strip, right side down, on the right side of your garment seam allowance. Make sure the bulk of the garment is to the left so it won't get caught up in stitching here. Line the edges up with the edge stitching foot and stitch the strip to the SA. You can certainly use a regular foot for this, watching to keep your seam width even here.

Iron the strip away from the seam allowance.
Wrap the strip around the seam allowance to the back. Yes, the strip is wider than needed but this is where that extra comes in handy. It helps with the fiddling. Pin it close to the garment SA. Damp fingers help with the wrapping around.

Adjust your needle position so it is now in the center of the foot, right in line with the blade. Stitch in the ditch running the blade right in the ditch of the two seams. Your results will vary. If you are sewing a "hard" fabric" like this one, it is hard to get the stitches in the ditch. They seem to naturally want to go on the strip SA. That is fine. Many people do them this way intentionally. If you are stitching on a softer fabric with more oomph, the stitches will easily sink into the ditch. I suggest you do a few samples to see what kind of results you will get and what you like best.

Now cut the excess seam allowance from the strip, leaving no more than an 1/8th of an inch. Press the garment SA open and Voila! A Hong Kong seam finish!

This treatment will definitely increase the time involved in making your garment. It is a wonderful treatment for an unlined garment. Your seams will be beautifully finished and you will just love flashing them open when you can. When I was working, I would casually take my jacket off in a warm room and lay it on the chair or table so the seams were obvious. Not sure anyone else appreciated my finished seams, but I sure enjoyed seeing them looking back at me on a tedious work day.

Be careful that your color or print of the strips does not show thru your garment fabric. Don't want that! And also be real careful cutting the excess fabric from the back of the seam allowance. Pelican billed scissors help.

For you Heather Dee, and hopefully some others.....................Bunny


  1. Excellent tutorial! Thank you. I plan to use this finish on an upcoming silk charmeuse unlined blouse. Thank you again!

  2. Thanks for this tutorial! I wish you lived closer to Chicago so you could teach live!

    I am a newbie to your blog but I love that your postings and tutorials include so much more than photos and instructions. There is so much knowledge and experience that you add to it all.

  3. Thanks so much and welcome aboard to you both!

  4. Your tutorial is simply awesome, I have been following your blog for some time although I left no comments on it, so I granted you a nomination for Kreativ Blogger award. Please check in my blog (it is in spanish and I translated some parts to English!) Cheers!!

  5. WOW!!!! Thank you so much. This is so great :) It made my day when I saw you had a whole post dedicated to my question. Thanks again.

  6. ...and I thought I was the only one who would "casually" lay down a jacket just so everyone could see the pretty inside!

    I blogged your tutorial over at Craft Gossip Sewing Blog:

  7. Bunny .- this very interesting post. often use this system to polish the waists of their pants. I also did a long post on the use of such seams and I like to use for summer jackets, for example.

    thanks for showing. His posts are always very interesting. Wish I could visit more frequently, but my lack of time is a big problem, please excuse me. Today will be a good time here on his blog to enjoy his last posts that I have not yet read.

    Greetings from Spain and see you soon.


    Bunny.- muy interesante este post. suelo utilizar este sistema para pulir las cinturas de los pantalones. Yo también hice un post hace tiempo, sobre la utilización de este tipo de costuras y me gusta utilizar para chaquetas de verano, por ejemplo.

    gracias por mostrar. Sus posts son siempre muy interesantes. Me gustaría poder visitarla con más asiduidad, pero mi falta de tiempo es un gran problema, le ruego me disculpe. Hoy estaré un buen rato aquí en su blog disfrutando con sus últimos posts que todavía no he leído.

    Saludos desde España y hasta pronto.


  8. Oh, excellent tutorial! It is nice to see this technique shown as it is a beautiful seam finish.

  9. Thank you for this fabulous tutorial. I'm going to give it a go on my next project as part of the seam finish sew-a-long on

    I love that people are so friendly and sharing in the sewing world.

  10. Lol about shhowing off yoour seams. You sound a bit like me with other things. Thaks for the tutorial, I will save it for when am more experienced.

  11. Love love love your work!!! Stumbled across your site and yours is now my favourite! I like to learn new techniques and your descriptions are clear and concise.
    Lexley - Brisbane Australia
    P.s And did Paco Peralta really write to you? are good!!

  12. Thank for posting the info and pics! I am standing behind my 16 yr old daughter, as she sews a dress, step by step. It is a double breasted med weight denim dress with crystal looking buttons. The seams are fraying, so we are using this method with a lt wt red print silky fabric. It is worth the effort for a classic dress she will use for years.

  13. This is another technique I've been wanting to learn so thanks for posting this up. It's the last part when you fold the piece to the back, sew and then cut that I was curious to see.
    Now to try it in real life:))


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