Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hand Hemmed

I'm getting my things packed and ready. After a nice long break I'm heading off to work again. I expect I will be away for four months. I'm in the thick of weeding through my clothes and I have built up a whole big pile of mending and alterations. I've been wearing this vintage Lee skirt around with its frayed edge flying in the breeze. I decide it's time to do justice to its cuteness and finish it properly.

Frequently, when I do alterations for myself I do it down and dirty... "It's just for me, it dosent need to be perfect. Who else is going to know that I cut corners? It will be faster this way," I tell my self. Then I spend twice as long fussing with corrections that would not have been necessary if I had just taken the time to go through the right steps. Inspired by the craftsmanship of my vintage clothes I vow to give myself the pleasure of finishing my own things right.

To hem a skirt yourself, try it on and mark the length you desire with a safety pin.

Measure up from the original hem and transfer this measurement all the way around the inside of your skirt, with pins or a light pencil mark. Add one and a quarter inch to this length for hem allowance, which will be folded inside and stitched into place.

Cut a piece of twill tape slightly longer than the circumference of the hem. The twill tape or hem tape reduces the bulk of the hem along it to lie more smoothly. Lay the twill tape over the cut edge of your skirt on the outside (or right side of the skirt) so that it overlaps the edge by one-quarter inch. Stitch the tape in place by machine close to the top edge of the tape. Press the hem allowance under one and a half inches, towards the inside (or wrong side of the skirt.)

Thread a needle and knot your thread. Start your stitch at a side seam, hiding the knot behind your twill tape. Move your needle to the right to take your first stitch (reverse these directions if you are left handed.) Your stitches should be between one quarter and one half inches in length. Although your stitch is moving from left to right your needle will prick from right to left. This serves to strengthen your stitches and "knot" each one in place.

To make a tiny even stitch, follow the edge of your twill tape and prick through just a few threads of your skirt fabric at the exact line where it meets the twill tape then prick through the twill tape at the same point. This keeps your thread in line with the edge of your tape making it less noticeable and less likely to snag as you wear it. Be sure you only catch a few threads on the back of the skirt fabric and do not bring your needle all the way through to the front. This makes your hem invisible from the right side of the skirt. It is as if your skirt magically ends with out a machine stitch line.

This technique takes longer than machine stitching the edge under, but it looks so much nicer and I always find hand-stitching to be peaceful.


Anonymous said...

Great tutorial!

Just think of all the billions of people in the world who only know how to do Frankenstein stitches.

Clear directions.
Simply inviting photo's.
Makes me think... I can do this!

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm you've got me wondering....
Is there a right way to sew a button?!

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