Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blind Hem Domination

I spent most of yesterday afternoon working on making a blind hem. Maybe this is an old trick for most of you, but for me it is new. It has always been one of those intimidating aspects of sewing I thought I would never learn. The instructions might has well have been in Italian at home since reading them always produced a scratching of the head and decision to hem by hand. Now I can share my knowledge with you all, so you don't have to spend two and a half hours figuring it out :)

So, first: why do I need to know how to do a blind hem? Besides trying to advance my sewing techniques, a faculty member asked if I could hem some pants for him.  I said sure and then realized I may have to employ this process. For those who are not in the know, the blind hem is when you hem from the inside and it is barely noticable form the outside. Look at some of your RTW (ready-to-wear) skirts and you will see this method; it looks very professional and clean in the end. How is works is you stich a couple of straight stitches abutting a folded part of the upper fabric (which is the wrong side of fabric) and then every so often a zig zag stitch will go a take a little nip of the folded fabric, securing them together. This little zig zag will look like a little stitch every so often on the front, but barely visible. Hence, the name blind hem stitch.

First I found a couple tutorials online, which were very helpful, especially since my instructions for my machine are in Italian (but normally pointless anyway). And I do possess a blind hem foot, which I thought would be helpful, which in the end was not. Here are the two tutorials I found most helpful: Grosgrain and Threadbangers. Okay, on to what I discovered.

the failed attempts at blind hems

I won't go into detail because the tutorials I listed above are great, and they will show you exactly what you need to know. For me during the first two hours I couldn't understand why mine were not looking like theirs (and I am speaking about the above: the many, *many* samples.) I tried first to change the stitch length, no good. Then the upper tension on the machine, which a commenter had mentioned in one of the tutorials — also no good. This is what my first samples looked like, sorry it is black fabric with dark red thread (not the best pic situation):

the hem is all puckered and ugly

The tutorial on Threadbangers has you expose just an eighth of an inch of the folded fabric and I finally realized that was where my problem was. My zig-zag stitch, which I can't change the width, was too long and was catching the fabric too far into the material, creating an actual sewn seam or something too tight to lay flat without pulling and forcing, which is not the look I was going for. This was especially true when I was using the foot with the guide up against the fold. I finally realized that if I started the hem further away, so I now used a quarter inch exposed, I would only manage to catch just the bottom of the material at the fold. And viola— a blind hem!

I didn't iron it after, so please excuse the fold

Now this may all sound perfectly logical to you and think that I am an idiot, but I was completely stumped. Like I said, I spent two and a half hours on this. The last half hour (or maybe even forty-five minutes) was spent trying to perfect the hem after I figured it out. I was so caught up with the guide having to be next to the fold and the needle right next to it, that I wouldn't let my mind figure out the problem. I eventually used my regular all-purpose foot and as long as I go slow, it produces a much better hem. So even if you don't have a blind hem foot, this hem is still possible...well assuming you have the stitch on your machine.

So, hopefully I may have helped some poor soul out there that has attempted the blind hem with the same results and thrown in the towel. Man, I was determined to get this yesterday and I am so excited that I finally did! Hemming is one my least favorite parts of sewing and it is exciting to have another way of handling it. Now that I gave the blind hem a smack down, I feel like I should use it for everything!  Conquering sewing one hem at a time :)

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