Post #2057: Experiments in dressmaking (seam edition)

As I mentioned in my last post about the Cappuccino Dress I’m working on, I was thinking about doing more than just zig-zagging the interior seams to finish them (I have no serger so that is never an option). For the initial dress seams, I used the french seam technique – which I use whenever possible because it makes a garment as beautiful inside as it is out – but this dress has some unusual construction elements that make french seams not possible in some places. So I’ve decided to try a Bias Bound Seam instead.

Using 1/4 inch double-fold bias tape (in bulk I bought 10 metres of it at Dress Sew for $2.29), I started tacking it down with pins last night while watching an episode of Midsomer Murders – but quickly realized that with that little room to play, any shifting of the tape while sewing would cause a terrible mess – and my pinning skills aren’t the best. So instead, I switched to hand-basting the tape down, and am midway through the process – as pictured above. It’s taken me about an hour so far, so I anticipate that with another hour I will be done – and the final machine-sewing won’t take more than twenty minutes.

I used to really resist hand-basting in this fashion, even though it’s recommended for all sorts of things – hems, zippers, bindings – because I had a rush approach to garment-making. While I don’t pretend that using more hand techniques is turning out couture garments on my end – taking a step back and giving time to each step definitely does cut down on the frustration. And it also turns out a nicer product.

What I notice right away while hand-basting the seam-binding is how much it gives the inside of the dress a vintage garment feel; this used to be a very common way for home sewists to do finishes. I once went to an estate sale for a very elderly woman who had sewn all her life, and had racks of handmade garments and vintage fabric for sale (that’s where I bought the wool used in the Woodland Stroll Cape). Every one of her garments had bound or French seams – even the housedresses and aprons.

In any case, I’ve got a busy weekend ahead and I probably won’t get this stage finished until Monday. My husband leaves town for ten days tomorrow morning, and while I’ve got a full schedule for the week – I’m pretty sure his absence will allow me a little more time on the sewing machine (and knitting needles, and so forth).

One Comment on “Post #2057: Experiments in dressmaking (seam edition)

  1. As a fellow sewist I too love to use french seams whenever I can. I’ve also found the ‘hong kong’ seam (bound seam) finish is not nearly as difficult as I once thought. I use this method for bags as well. Have you tried clips instead of pins to hold binding in place? Less troublesome for me. Thanks Megan for sharing your experience and knowledge.

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