Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hong Kong Seam Binding My Way

I'm sure there are a thousand tutorials on the net explaining how to do this - but I thought 'hey, whats one more!'.  So here is my way of doing Hong Kong Seam Binding.  I treat this process as 'sewing preparation' just like cutting out, marking things, and sewing darts.  I get it over and done with before I start construction.

1. Cut out all the pattern pieces required for your pattern
Pretty obvious really, I know.  Cut them all out and mark whatever you need to mark.

2. Cut the bias tape to length
Take the first pattern piece off your pile and measure the bias tape against the edge you want to bind.  I cut mine so I have about an inch extra on each end just in case...

3. Iron one fold of the bias tape open
I would buy single fold bias tape if I could, but I can't.  If you can, go for it, and skip this step!

4. Sew ironed flat side of bias tape to wrong side of fabric
Line up the bias tape and the fabric, and then sew a line of stitching half way between the edge of the bias tape and the fold line you just flattened.  Don't forget to leave a piece overhanging at the start!

5. Iron the bias tape over to the right side
With the fabric right side down on the ironing board, iron the bias tape so it folds over the line of stitching you just did, and protrudes past the edge of your fabric piece

6. Turn the fabric over so its ride side up, and iron the bias tape down
With the fabric right side up, fold the bias tape over so it snuggly covers the edge of the fabric, and iron it down to make a crease.

7. Sew the bias tape to the fabric
Run a line of stitching down the bias tape near the edge of the tape, encasing the raw edge of the fabric.  Cut off the bits of bias tape that protrude from each end.  You don't need them now.

8. Celebrate, cause you've bound one edge
Repeat ad nauseum until you've bound all the edges that need binding

When you've bound all the edges, then you can start constructing your garment.  And when you iron the seams open, they will look like this:

NOTE: I've been thinking about darts - should I bind the edge before or after I do the darts?  And I've decided I should do it after.  And on thick fabrics like this wool in the pictures, I will be trimming the dart to reduce the bulk.

Any questions?  Ask away!



  1. Hi Beccie, why do you iron out one side of the tape before starting, and then re-iron the tape over your line of stitching? Thanks

    1. Hi Charlotte - I'll do my best to answer your question - I hope you check back to see it :)

      1. I iron the fold out for two reasons - a) cause it makes it easier to sew it on, and b) cause that fold is in the wrong place to neatly wrap the the bias tape around the edge of the fabric.

      2. I iron the bias tape over my line of stitching to get a clean finish and help the tape fold around the edge of the fabric.

      To see the difference, if I was you I'd get a few scraps out and do it missing those two steps and then do it with those two steps and you'll see how much easier it is :)


  2. Great - I will give it a shot. Thanks for the really useful tutorial!

  3. Hello there,

    I've been following so thought I'd drop a line. I have only recently learned of these "Hong Kong" seams and like the concept. This tut is a good one too so thanks for sharing.

    The only thing I hesitate about them is . . . get this . . . I keep thinking "one day I'm going to lose weight" and I think of the techniques I am learning now that I've gotten into retro sewing that seem, how can I say, well, to do all that to a seam that I'll have to tear up due to weight loss. Then I think, "Who am I kidding?" Hong Kong it up and keep it moving (probably won't lose weight anyway), LOL.

    Seriously I love your spirit and your blog.

    1. Hi Lyric - thank you so much for your kind words :)

      I say don't wait to lose weight, get sewing and have a go at Hong Kong Seam Binding! If you do lose weight, all you need to do is take in the seam and remove the old one - you'll still have Hong Kong Seam Binding, with just a bigger seam allowance - no biggy!!!!

    2. lyric's question echoes mine and i see you answered it more or less already.
      i was wondering about how you can pull in or ease out at seam allowances for a better fit and was wondering about sewing the bias bidning already before i know where my seams will be for good and trim them up neat.
      also, how would this work for those tricky little pesky things i hate called notches so the waist seam or other curvy places lay flat.
      and finally, how is this method on the bulk level (liek a tight pencil skirt out of a medium weight cotton?
      thanks as usual for such a wonderful post

    3. Rebecca - to deal with the fitting issues I would suggest making a muslin of the pattern and testing the fit and changing the pattern BEFORE doing anything like this - that way you will have worked out where all your seams will be and you will have an even seam allowance to display your pretty Hong Kong Seams :)

      And you can still cut your notches where you need to - because this is bias tape it will not fray.

      Bulk level is not bad! However, for a tight pencil skirt I would be looking at minimising bulk and pinking the seams or do either of the techniques I show in this blog post:

      (and ignore the bit where I say you can't do it on curves. You can, it just takes a bit of patience :)

    4. thanks for your response
      off to read referenced post