Perfect Hong Kong Seams: Use your foot!

I like gadgets that free me to include the sewing in my design process, while saving me time.

Check out my new bling:

Behold a binding foot.  It is among the priciest foot I own- AUD$30.  Worth it.

The original pattern calls for the edges of the facings to be serged and sewn on like normal.  This is acceptable, indeed I used it for his brown shorts.  I feared that with the funny color facings any thread I used would appear tawdry.  So I bound them.

The package says to use pre-fab binding.  Which I did at first, when I was learning to use the foot.

{A side note: I never fail to be shocked at how many sewers don’t practice a new technique ad nauseum until they could do it perfectly in their sleep.  Or practice at all.  It seems they just break out the new foot and bind the hell out of a poor defenseless pair of pants.  It is not a waste of time to practice, even if you bind little squares of hemp fabric all night.  You will gain knowledge and skill and consistency.  No more hiding the weak sewing on a garment.  No more UFO’s because you don’t have a skill down pat and you’re afraid to try it and potentially ruin the project.  Good sewing, technically perfect sewing is hard work, practice and nothing more.  No fairies visited my bedside and bequeathed me sewing skills.  I work for them.}

Anyway, I used some boring pre-fab single fold 1″ bias tape until I figured I knew how to use the foot.  I am cutting husband’s shorts lining from a pair of fetching blue checked fat quarters, as per his request.  I thought to chop up the leftovers into 1″ bias strips.

I took each 1″ bias strip and folded each raw edge into the middle and pressed it hard.  Pressing does not involve moving your iron back and forth, which can often warp the grain.  Pressing is an up-down motion.  I repeat that to myself as I press.  The application of steam followed by a clapper helps sharpen the edges of your tape.

Then I inserted the bias strip into the wide cone-shaped end of the foot.  I found it irritating and a little fiddly, and asked around at work how to ease that.  Someone told me to take the foot off and insert the binding, then put it on the machine.  Of course!  *ammended to add: if I cut the end of the tape at an angle, then use my unpicker to ease it through the foot, I have less problem with insertion.

Then you put it on your machine.  Our camera is still very much on the fritz, so I’ll show you how it looks when you insert the fabric edge.  Imagine it is on the machine.  Trial and error told me that wrong side facing up works best.

Then you use your left middle and ring fingers to keep the fabric in the foot properly.  I keep it jammed up against the inside of the little cone.  At the same time, your right hand controls the tape.  I found it best to keep the middle of the tape (where the raw edges meet) in the middle of the cone, all set to get wrapped around the raw edge of my fabric.

I decided to Hong Kong my husband’s hemp shorts.  His favorite pants have HK seam finishes, and they have worn like nails.

I want to bias-bind everything now.  I’ll settle for doing his pants, and probably any unlined skirts I made in the future.  And I might tackle another Walkaway Dress, just to prove to myself that I can make it look like something I’d actually wear in public.

Incidentally, sewists in the industry use a binding foot.


  1. I have one! I've never tried it on curved seams though. Hummm, I must see if it works on those as well. Or, if you try it, you can tell me!

  2. I LOVE my binding foot! I didn't even realize it was a quilting tool. Another quilting tool that I can't live without is the ditch quilting foot. It's great for ditch stitching, but also amazing for lining up edgestitching and topstitching. LOVE!

  3. OMG. I have a binding foot that I never thought to use for Hong Kong binding. I now have to go over and see what size it is. By the way, another 'cheat', there is a tool, and someone should step in here with the name, that you run you bias through and iron it as it comes out and voila, it is pressed and folded into single fold bias tape.

  4. You know, Nancy, I never realized why such a tool would be necessary until now. Oh dear, what a bad time for me to want to take a side trip into playing with all kinds of bias bindings. I must finish these shorts first.

  5. It's funny you should post this, I unpacked my binding foot recently and have been hoping to learn to use it finally! I have never heard of it being used for quilting, actually, just for garment sewing (mine is vintage with its instructions). I want to learn to use all my feet and notions.Nancy, you're thinking of the Clover bias tape maker tools I think? I love them!Have you seen the Sewing Machine Attachment book? It's new, small (doesn't cover all the feet I would have liked it to) but has good clear photos of how to use a load of attachments. I got it from the library and must own a copy! Previously I only had my original Greist attachment book, good but no photos.

  6. I just looked more closely at your instructions — my instructions say that prefold goes into the little slots, and that the center is for bias strips that are unfolded. I'll see if I can scan them tomorrow!

  7. After I read this I pulled out thefoot for my Viking and read the directions which say that you can use a flat, 1" bias strip without folding it, or you can use pre made which would be folded. In other words you don't have to fold and press your bindings before using the foot. I like saving time, and I'm going to try this foot since I want to Hong Kong finish the seams of a dress I am planning.

  8. Pressing does not involve moving your iron back and forth, which can often warp the grain. Pressing is an up-down motion. I repeat that to myself as I press.I…didn't know that. And I've been sewing for how long now? Nearly 1.5 years? Thanks for the lesson of the day! (although probably not the one you planned, with this post)I just got myself that little metal thinger that folds 1" bias tape, although I haven't tried it yet. I adore how things look when binded with bias tape (the plaid looks so cool!), but I hate attaching it. Maybe once I'm no longer a student, it may be worth looking into that presser foot.

  9. Thank you for the reminder and reward for discipline! Practice IS important!!! You said it so well. That's why I get so discouraged with my binding foot–not enough practice. That also explains why I got such good results from my old mechanical machine–1 million hours of practice–and I am still on, um, semiformal terms with my new computerized machine. You have energized me. Bless you. I like your new dress, too! Kristina in Ohio

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  14. Wonderful!! I printed out your instructions for handy reference and page 3 will not print. Halp!! Is there anything you can do to make page three co-operate?? (damn American printers!) :) Thanks!!

      • I tried printing page 3 by it self. No go. Then re-printed page 1, 2 & 3. No page 3. I will look and see if my printer is being cranky.

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