This is a tutorial I’ve been meaning to post for a while, since I had some requests after instagramming the in-progress guts of my Sophia dress. Bias bound seams are a beautiful, couture quality finish you can easily achieve on garments with exposed seams (think jackets or unlined skirts and dresses). They protect the raw edge of the seam and also give a little pop of colour in an unexpected place. Obviously they’re a little more time intensive then just serging those suckers, but the secret beauty is totally worth it! If you need more convincing, peep the pretty guts of any number of Oonaballoona’s inspired makes. Write a love letter to yourself with some seam witchcraft.
There are a few methods for sewing these seams; I’m going to show you three. Your choice will be determined by whether you’re using regular or double fold bias tape. See this tutorial if you need help making your own.
HONG KONG SEAMS
Hong Kong seams use regular bias tape and wrap around the raw edges of your seam before being “stitched in the ditch” into place. Since there is no visible stitching, they’re an elegant and pretty finish. Your seams should be moderately straight – a curved seam that needs to be notched will not be bound nicely. If you’re feeling extra fancy, use silk fabric for your bias tape.
To get started, make long strips of continuous bias 1 – 1 1/4″ wide. The wider tape is a little easier to sew since it gives you more wiggle room on the wrong side of the seam, but you may need to trim it down later.
Press your seam open and line up your bias tape with the seam on the side that will be visible when the garment is finished, right sides together. Pin into place.
Sew the bias to your seam using a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Fold the bias over and press flat.
Fold the bias around the raw edge of the seam and press again.
From the right side of the seam, stitch in the ditch along the bias seam (with your needle hitting precisely between bias tape and garment fabric) to stitch the underside of the bias tape into place. You shouldn’t really see your stitches.
On the wrong side of the seam the bias edge will be raw. You can trim down the bias tape to 1/8″ if necessary.
Hong Kong seams are fairly easy to sew although they do take some time. However, they add a lot of polish to your makes and it’s a good technique to refine and practice your precision sewing skills.
Looking for something a little less fussy? Try…..
SIMPLE BIAS BOUND SEAMS WITH DOUBLE FOLD BIAS TAPE (OPTION 1)
A shortcut version of Hong Kong seams, you can also use double fold bias tape to wrap around the raw edge of your seam, sewing it all together in one step. I think this works best for straight, non-fraying seams. It can be tricky to sew really precisely, but it’s probably the fastest option of the bunch.
To start, wrap the bias tape around the seam and pin into place.
If you’re using commercially available tape, one side of it will be slightly narrower than the other. The narrow edge should go on the right side of the seam to ensure you’re catching the bottom layer of the tape while you’re sewing.
On the right side of the seam, sew along the length of the tape, about 1/16″ from the edge, ensuring the folded edge of the bias is hugging the raw edge of the fabric.
I’m not super fond of this method because it can be hard to evenly capture the seam below, but it works in a pinch.
Since you’re trying to capture all the layers in one swoop, the final results may not be as perfect as you’d like. If you’re not getting perfectly even seams, try the following method.
BIAS BOUND SEAMS WITH DOUBLE FOLD BIAS TAPE (OPTION #2)
While the finished product looks remarkably similar to the above method, I find it easier to sew. You’re sewing two lines of stitching instead of one, guaranteeing that all the bias tape edges are caught in the stitch. It’s closer to a Hong Kong seam but it’s a good option if you’re using double fold instead of regular bias tape.
To start, press your seam open. Unfold the double folded bias tape and align the edge with the wrong side of the seam. Pin into place.
Sew the bias tape to the seam along the first folded line.
Fold the bias tape over so that the center crease of the tape is hugging the raw seam edge, and press into place.
Sew along the right side of the seam, 1/16″ from the edge.
In the end, your method will vary depending on the bias tape you’re using. Each of these technqiues have their time and place.
MORE TIPS FOR SEWING BIAS BOUND SEAMS
- Store bought double sided bias tape is easier to sew in since it’s more precisely made.
- If you’re making homemade double fold bias tape, try to minimize your seams by using a longer piece of fabric to make your bias tape.
- When using commercial available tape, the narrow side of the tape should go on the right side of the seam.
- If the beginning of your stitch lines gets pulled down into the machine as you start sewing, use a seam ripper behind the foot to stabilize and “pull”the seam through.
- Use an edge stitch foot to make your stitch line as even as possible.
- Use lightweight fabrics for your bias tape to reduce seam bulk.
Hopefully you’ll find this info helpful if you’d like to make some pretty guts in your next make. Have you experimented with bias bound seams in the past? Any more tips for making them work?