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Couture Sewing Samples: French Seam and Underlined Hong Kong Finish

Dear Friends,

I am taking the last course I need for my custom clothing certificate: a 1-credit/unit couture sewing class.  It meets for two hours once a week and the time just flies by!  Because it is a one credit class, most of our sewing is just making a sample instead of using the technique in a garment.  Some of the techniques are not unique to couture but doing the technique in a fine fabric is what makes it couture.  Our first set of samples were seam finishes:

French Seam I have been a big fan of French seams for–ev–er.  I think it gives a better seam finish than using the overlock/serger and it is really fast and easy.  For this class, we used silk chiffon.

French Seam in Silk Chiffon

Since in “industry” a 1/2″ seam allowance is used instead of 5/8″ that we use in home sewing, we created the seam by sewing a 1/4″ seam–wrong sides together–and then clipping the seam allowance down to 1/8″ so that thread “hairs” won’t stick out of the new seam and so the seam allowance doesn’t show and isn’t bulky on this sheer fabric.  Then we press and turn the pieces right sides together and sewed another 1/4″ seam.  Sarai at has created a beautiful step-by-step tutorial that shows how to create French seams.

Hong Kong Finish with Underlining Before I was taught how to do a Hong Kong Finish correctly, I spent hours doing what I thought was the finish.  Once I learned how to do it correctly, I was amazed at how easy and relatively quickly I could finish the seams of a garment.  Essentially, you take a strip of bias tape and sew it in a narrow seam to the top of seam allowance.  Wrap the tape around to the backside of the seam allowance and then stitch in the ditch on the top.  I thought I had to bind the seam allowance as if it were quilt binding (and, unfortunately, many sites call this kind of binding a Hong Kong Finish when it is accurately called a…wait for it…bias binding finish). This finish is perfect for a garment that won’t be lined but you still want a tailored look–such as an unlined blazer.  Gigi Sews has a quick tutorial on how it is done.

But…what about those times when you want a quasi-lining?  This is where the Hong Kong Finish with underlining comes into play. It creates a wonderful look.  We created it using lace and batiste.  My sample has white batiste with blue lace.  The shop didn’t have any batiste that matched my color scheme so I bought white with the intention of dying it.  My prof told me that I didn’t need to go to that much trouble just for the samples so underlining doesn’t match the lace like it should.


Hong Kong Finish with Underlining

Unlike a regular Hong Kong Finish, you apply the underlining first.  The underlining is a bit larger than the piece it will be sewn.  Make a 1/4″ seam then wrap the underlining around to the wrong side of the fashion fabric.  Then make the garment seams.  You have a seam finish and a quasi-lining in two easy steps.  Laura has a great tutorial on her Laura’s Sewing Room blog. Also, check on JulieB’s Sewing Tip on Pattern Review for her great photos (may have to click on the text to get the photos to show up).

I really like the idea of using Hong Kong with Underlining for a summer wardrobe.  It adds structure and wearability to a garment without having to fuss with a lining.  I can see me using it a lot in skirts using batiste.

Well friends, it is time for me to close this posting.  The Mister is calling to me and asking me if I plan on watching Daniel Boone with him before we head off to bed.

More samples next time!

Happy Sewing!

Dr. Julie-Ann



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