I love sewing with woven fabric. However, sometimes the exposed seams on the garments can look unfinished. While an easy way to finish these edges is with a serger, sometimes I find myself wanting an even more polished seam allowance. Today I am going to show you two alternative methods for finishing a woven seam allowance. The first is a French Seam and the second is a Hong Kong Seam. While the examples are using squares of fabric, you can use the same methodology for any exposed seam including skirt pieces and sleeves. Read along for how to master French Seams and Hong Kong Seams!
For the French seam, you do not require any other materials other than your fabric pattern pieces.
Place your main fabric pieces next to each other, one right side up and one wrong side up.
Place your main fabric pieces on top of each other, WRONG sides together. Sew along the edge of your fabrics (where indicated in your pattern instructions) with a 1/8” (3 mm) seam allowance.
Open your fabric pieces and place them right side up. Press the seam allowance to one side.
Fold your fabric pieces back in half, this time RIGHT sides touching. Press the folded edge well. Sew with a ¼” (6 mm) seam allowance along the already stitched and folded edge.
You are finished! The raw edge of the seam allowance is now enclosed.
HONG KONG SEAM
For the Honk Kong Seam, you will need ½” or 5/8” premade single fold bias tape. For this example, I have used 5/8” single fold bias tape.
Place your main fabric pieces RIGHT sides together and sew with the seam allowance as mentioned in the pattern you are sewing.
With the pieces facing WRONG side up, press the seam allowance open.
Take your premade bias tape and cut it the same length as your seam. Gently press it open (do not use steam or a very hot iron as you still want to be able to see the fold lines on the bias tape). Place the bias tape on top of one side of the seam allowance raw edge. The RIGHT side of the bias tape will be touching the RIGHT side of the seam allowance. Pin/clip in place.
Flip the fabric pieces out of the way of the seam allowance, so the pinned/clipped seam allowance and bias tape edges are independent of the main fabric. Sew along the memory crease of the bias tape.
Press the bias tape away from the seam allowance.
Finger press the same bias tape and seam allowance as shown, so the bias tape is underneath the seam allowance.
Fold the bias tape edge only over to cover the raw edge of the seam allowance. Press.
Flip your main fabric pieces out of the way of the seam allowance, so the folded edge of the seam allowance and bias tape are independent of the main fabric.
Turn your piece over so the other side is facing up. Stitch in the ditch along the bias tape seamline.
Trim the bias tape raw edge ONLY, as close as possible to the stitch line from step 9.
Press the seam open
Repeat all steps for the other side of the seam allowance
And that is it! I hope you enjoy these two easy and clean alternative ways to finish your woven seam allowances. Have questions? Make sure to join our Facebook community where we can answer all your questions about French Seams and Hong Kong Seams. If you sew a Boo and Lu pattern using one of these techniques, we would love to see! Share on Instagram tagging @booandlupatterns or share in the Facebook group!