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Deborah Moebes always has some fabulous new sewing at Whipstitch, and she keeps us smiling… We all totally want to be in the League of Adventurous Dressmakers! Deborah is a skilled sewist and instructor, with comprehensive classes like Design & Sew an A-Line Skirt. The author of Stitch by Stitch: Learning to Sew One Project at a Time, Deborah continuously offers a variety of helpful and comprehensive e-courses through Whipstitch.

Deborah’s latest excitement is The League of Adventurous Dressmakers. Here’s what Deborah says about the year-long course:

    It’s careful, thoughtful instruction in core garment sewing techniques, designed intentionally and deliberately to lead you to better clothing construction. Monthly up-close video lessons give you hi-def views of techniques and their variations, and a practice pattern with each lesson gives you a chance to apply what you’ve learned. A printable technique guide (which can also be read on your tablet) gives you a permanent reference for each skill, and the private Facebook group provides a familiar space for connecting with other League members. I’ll be there alongside you, researching and discovering and exulting in the joy of making garments we can be excited about and proud of…

In the league you’ll cover topics like seams and finishes (this month), shirt collars (last month), pleats and gathers, making a muslin, installing zippers and so much more. You’ll have ongoing access to a dozen garment-sewing topics in all, with full video guidance and a printable technique guide for each one. Learn more about the background behind the club at Whipstitch, and sign up here.

Deborah is offering up a giveaway for one spot for the year. (Open to anyone, worldwide!) Just comment below for a chance to WIN! Also, anyone can use the code SEWMAMA to get one month free for anyone who registers by February 29, 2016. Content from the League remains accessible to all members forever; the code will waive January’s fee so you’ll get one month free and still have access to all the lessons.

Looking for more fun from Deborah and Whipstitch? Try out her other club for 2016, the Murder Mystery Quilt. Sew a quilt to solve the crime!

Deborah shows you how to sew a professional Hong Kong seam finish below, one way you can show off your adventurous dressmaking skills!

What sets high-end garments apart from quickie, off-the-rack fast fashion? More often than not, it’s all in the details. While I don’t think it’s essential that all our handmade garments be flawlessly finished on the interior– there are times when, even in handmade clothing, we want the immediate gratification of a quick-sew project– there can be no argument that clothing that has a fine finish on the interior looks more expensive and of higher quality than garments finished in any other way.

Specialty seam finishes are a great way to achieve this. Along with techniques for sewing better seams overall, this month the League of Adventurous Dressmakers is diving deep on how to spruce up our seams in ways that make our handmade clothing as beautiful as it can be. The Hong Kong seam is an ideal way to cover raw edges on seam allowances in heavy fabrics, like many of us are working with in the colder months. It can also be applied to lighter-weight garments where you don’t want a lining but still want to avoid bulk.

I should take the time to point out the difference between a Hong Kong seam finish and a bias-bound seam. Both techniques use bias tape, but where the bias-bound seam applies double-fold bias tape to the seam and encloses it like a clamshell, the Hong Kong finish applies flat bias tape to the seam and leaves one raw edge of the bias tape exposed. This allows the seam allowances to lie flatter after binding, and to reduce bulk along the seamline in the garment. Additionally, bound seams are typically topstitched in place, with the stitches visible, while Hong Kong seams are stitched in the ditch, with the final stitches concealed from the right side of the seam allowance.

To complete the Hong Kong seam, begin by sewing the garment seam and pressing the seam allowances open. You’ll be sewing one seam allowance at a time, through only that thickness of fabric. With the seam allowance extended, place a bias strip at least 1.25″ wide and at least 2″ longer than the seam to be finished right sides together with one seam allowance.

Sew a seam along the length of the bias tape, taking up half the seam allowance as you do. For example, for a 1/2″ seam, use a 1/4″ seam allowance; for a 5/8″ seam, use a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Press the seam allowances toward the bias tape without trimming. Leave the opposite raw edge of the bias tape open and unfolded; the real strength of the Hong Kong finish on a seam allowance, particularly with bulky fabrics, is that it creates the effect of grading along the seamline. The thickness is gradually eased out to prevent lumps and bumps that make a garment hang poorly.

Fold the bias tape around to the wrong side of the seam allowance, extending the flat raw edge until it extends past the seam line by between 1/8″ and 1/4″. Pin in place if desired.

From the RIGHT side of the bias tape, stitch the ditch along the original seamline, catching the raw edge on the opposite side as you do. Using a sharp needle can help in gaining accuracy as you place these new stitches directly in the gutter produced by the initial seam.

In the final version, any remaining bias tape that extends far beyond the stitch line can be trimmed away, close to the stitches. Press the entire seam allowance flat while extended away from the garment, then press the seamline once both seam allowances are finished. You’ll find that on thicker garments, you reduce any visible seamline from the exterior of the garment, and with summer clothing, you get a smooth seam without lining.

Have fun sewing, y’all, and come join us at the League for Adventurous Dressmakers to learn more and meet a community of folks looking to make the best clothing they can sew.