A Hong Kong seam is made when you finish the edges of a seam by covering them with bias tape. It sounds simple enough to do, but there are always new sewing lessons to be learned every time you try something new and this time was no different.
But first a note to myself, make sure and cut the skirt pieces with a larger seam allowance to accommodate the bias tape. This gives you room to sew the bias tape on and not affect the circumference of the top of the skirt.
Two lessons that I learned about applying bias tape from the construction of this dress were to make sure and watch which side of the bias tape you’re working on and to watch which side of the fabric the bias tape is going to fold to.
Lesson one, remember the advise about making one side of the bias tape longer than the other while ironing the bias tape? And remember being careful to do just that as you ironed? Well, use that to your advantage when you’re sewing the bias tape on. When I started to sew the bias tape to my first seam allowance, I did not think to make sure I was sewing the shorter side of the bias tape first. By making sure that shorter side of the bias tape is sewn down first , that gives you the longer side to fold over. This gives you the little extra fabric on the back side, making it easier to catch the bias tape as you stitch in the ditch on the top side. When you stitch the longer side first and then fold the shorter side over, not only is there not the extra fabric but you are short fabric from folding over the longer side. Once I figured this out and sewed the short side first and then folding over the long side, the sewing on of the bias tape became much easier.
The second lesson of watching which side of the fabric the bias tape is folded to came when I added the the bias tape to the hem. When I sewed the bias tape to the seam allowances, I sewed it to the top of the fabric and then folded it to the back. After stitching in the ditch on the top, I had a nice clean finish on top and it did not matter if my seam was a little wavy on the back side. After binding the seam allowances of the two seams of the skirt, I had plenty of bias tape left over so I decided to use the remaining bias tape to finish off the hem of the skirt too.
But, since I did not remember to think a couple of steps ahead and see what was going to fold where, I sewed the short side of the bias tape to the inside of the hem. This meant I would be folding the longer side of the bias tape to the front of the skirt. Even though I had remembered to sew the short end first, I had not thought about what side the bias tape would be folding to. At this point when I stitched in the ditch on the inside of the skirt, the wavy part of the seam from catching the bias tape would be on the top side of the skirt in plain view. And the nice clean finish would be on the inside where no one could see it.
To fix this I could unpick the bias tape and sew it again, this time to the outside of the skirt and fold the bias tape to the inside. Rolling my eyes at the thought of unpicking all that bias tape, I thought of another plan. I would not finish the bias tape with a stitch in the ditch seam but sew a nice even edge on the top of the folded over bias tape. This way I would have a seam on the bias tape but it would not be wavy like the one I had sewn from the opposite side. The inside part would have the wavy seam instead. This worked out just great! My seam on the bias tape side is nice and smooth and even, but if you look inside you will see a seam that hits and misses the ditch between the bias tape and skirt. This is fine with me. It looks great on the outside and it still looks acceptable from the inside, and I did not have to unpick a single stitch.
Because I had attached the buttons and button holes while completing the bodice of this dress, the last step was to attach the skirt to the bodice. At this point I still had plenty of bias tape left so I decided to use it to finish this last seam attaching the skirt to the bodice too. Because this seam is inside the dress, I did not care which side had the clean finish and which side had the wavy seam, and using the bias tape did give the seam a nice beautiful finish. Note to myself – keep bias tape and Hong Kong seams in mind for finishing seams where a serged seam would be exposed.
This dress turned out so adorable once it was completed. I love the true camp collar and how much easier it was to sew than the collar the original pattern called for. With the changes that I made to this pattern, I will definitely be using this pattern again for future projects. I also love the Hong Kong seam of the skirt as well as the bias tape hem. I learned many sewing lessons from the construction of this dress, especially regarding the making of and the applying of bias tape. I hope some little girl will enjoy wearing it.
Until next time, sew forth and sew on.