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Information and tutorials for folks interested in antique Italian lacework, nouveau fashion, sewing techniques and much much more!

Tutorial: Vintage Finishing Techniques

September 12, 2013 by Lilacs & Lace 4 comment(s)

Hello everyone!  I am back with a tutorial on finishing edges with Hug Snug Rayon Seam Binding from Britex Fabrics, and will be using this rose strewn soft and sheer cotton/silk voile fabric from Britex Fabrics.


Different fabrics require different finishing techniques, but this is my absolute favorite.  And best of all, it requires only a straight stitch from a basic machine!

First, you will need to make sure you have the right materials.  I use Hug Snug Rayon Seam Binding, but any other rayon binding (vintage or otherwise!) will do.  This is not twill tape, polyester hem tape, or single/double fold bias tape.  Hug Snug Rayon Seam Binding is available on Britex Fabrics’ 2nd floor, via email at service@britexfabrics.com, or by phone at 415-392-2910.  Britex carries over 60 colors of Hug Snug Rayon Seam Binding at 40¢ per yard. It presses beautifully and will not add bulk to the seam.


Although I sometimes skip this step, checking how any finishing technique is going to work with a specific fabric is always a good idea!  To check how the seam binding is going to look, I apply the binding to a scrap and fold the edge under.  This yummy silk/cotton blend is very delicate, and even with a bemberg underlining, quite sheer.  But when the seam is folded, all that is seen is a clean and neat edge.


Whenever possible, I like to sew my seam before applying the hem tape to the raw edges of my fabric.  This way, if any stretching occurs, your piecing will not be affected.


 Here is my favorite method for applying rayon seam binding:

1.  Pin and sew your seam as you normally would.

2.  Iron your seam open.

3.  Go back to your sewing machine.  Push all of the fabric to the left of the needle except for one raw edge (you should have the wrong side of your fabric facing you).  I like to keep a spool of seam binding at my feet and unwind it as needed.

For my first seam I do not use pins, but you certainly could.  The seam binding is a bit sheer and very delicate, so you should be able to see/feel where the edge of your material is.  I like to place the binding so a bit more than half of the binding hangs over the edge (if your fabric if thick, you may want to have even more hang over the edge to accommodate the thickness).  Stitch this in place and continue unwinding from the spool at your feet until you reach the bottom of your seam.


4.  Cut the binding about an inch from the edge of your fabric.

5.  Back at the ironing board, fold the hang over to encase the raw edge.  At this point, depending on the length of the seam, you may want to use a few pins to hold the folded over edge in place.  You may not need to, however, this stuff irons beautifully!


 6.  Now you need to go back to the sewing machine and stitch that binding down.  I usually complete the first seam on all of my lengthwise seams at once before heading to the ironing board, iron a bunch of them down, and then head back to the machine to be more efficient.


 7.  Another quick press, and you have a beautifully finished edge.


 After I finish both edges, I like to baste the ends in place and trim off any extra binding.


 If you have perpendicular seams, make sure to finish all of your seams traveling in the same direction before sewing up cross seams.  For instance, each lengthwise skirt seam should be bound before the skirt gets stitched to the bodice along the waist seam.  This will catch all of the ends of the seam binding in that waist seam, which, in turn, gets finished with the binding.

And yes, rayon binding can be used on curved edges like an armhole!  The binding is woven on the straight of grain, but because it is made of lightweight rayon, it will press and steam into place around curves.



 Just make sure to trim any excess seam allowance off of the piece before stitching the binding in place.


 This will create a clean edge to apply the binding.



 I also love to use it to finish the edges of facing pieces, curved or otherwise.


 Zipper seams are also a possibility.  Originally, I would trim the fabric flush with the zipper edge and grab the zipper tape up within the seam binding.  However, I have changed my mind after constructing numerous projects in this manner.  I now prefer to keep the zipper tape free.  This eliminates the chance of puckering.  (A zipper foot will be very helpful for applying the binding to this particular seam.)


 Rayon binding can also be used as hem tape.  I have come across quite a few vintage pieces that include rayon seam binding along the hemline.  It can be applied flat as a standard hem tape, or used to enclose the raw hem edge which will keep any frayed bits from peeking out.



 I hope you enjoy working with this finish.  Not only is it useful, but best of all, it really is pretty!



4 Response to Tutorial: Vintage Finishing Techniques

  • Britex Fabrics says:

    We love this blouse too! We do not teach sewing classes at Britex, however we do have some class information by the front register. You're welcome to come in an jot down a few numbers.

    September 16, 2013 at 11:33 am

  • Diane Walker says:

    You inspire me to try this technique, well done ilustrations. Elegantly simple and beautiful blouse!

    September 13, 2013 at 8:09 pm

  • cara hirschberg says:

    Im wanting to begin a clothing business. Its been some time since I have done sewing. Do you teach at Britex? I could use some warm up classes. Your blouse here is beautiful. Thank you, Cara Hirschberg.

    September 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

  • Andrea says:

    Thank you for this tutorial.

    May 10, 2015 at 2:23 am