mini-tutorial: invisible hems

8 Dec

let me preface by saying that i LOVE a good invisible hem. not that horrible weak shit provided by the “blindstitch” hem a sewing machine does (i had to put that in quotes because they aren’t even blind and they look horrible and tacky and ugh ugh ugh h8 machine-sewn hems ALL OF THEM), but a dainty hand-sewn invisible/blind hem ♥ so classic and clean, the mark of true craftsmanship.

don’t even get me started on machine-stitched VISIBLE hems ew ew ew

anyway, this process mystified me for a long time:
first it was “LOL WHY I AM GONNA DO THAT, THE MACHINE IS GOOD ENOUGH AND IT IS FASTER” (yeah, if you want your finished piece to look extra suzy homemaker. gross, i bet you used quilting cotton to make that, too).

i don’t think hand sewing is boring anymore, not even after putting hours of padstitching into my lady grey. i guess i see it as the difference between “homeade” and “handmade.”

i’m hemming a gorgeous black 50s cocktail dress (another spoil from closet case vintage ehehehe), so i took some pictures to maybe de-mystify the process for some of y’all.
and also to point out why, when someone asks me “oh, can you hem this, i know it’ll be quick bc you have a sewing machine!” i tend to snarl and spit and spout profanities.

these pictures are bad bc i am hemming a black dress, with black hem tape and black thread.
oh, and this tutorial is only good for hems that do not need to be eased in, so flared ppl need to look elsewhere, sry.
once again, deal with it.

you want to start by sewing your hem tape along the bottom edge on the right side of the fabric, leaving about 1/8″ of overhang on the hem tape side:
this is the top. i stitched close to the edge.

the back, and the overhang.

fold the hem up as normal, and pin into place. check with a hem gauge to make sure everything is nice and even:
my hem is 2″ all the way around.

and then onto the stitching!

start by taking the tiniest tiny bb stitch from the shell fabric – you really only want to grab, like, 1 or 2 threads. TINY.

bring it forward to make a stitch in the hem tape

and pull the whole thing through!

keep stitching until you get the entire way around

view from the front – see the stitches?

some tips:
– don’t pull the thread completely taunt, let it have a minuscule amount of slack. you don’t want puckers on the front of your hem!
– if you are having problems with tangly thread, beewax will help smooth things out. i don’t use wax because i like to live(sew) on the edge.
– don’t make the mistake i did with my lady grey and buy fusible hem tape. it doesn’t fuse (not that i wanted it to anyway, fusing = lazy sewing) and it is hard to stitch through GROSSSS

hand-hemming isn’t difficult, just time-consuming.
the dress in question has a FOUR YARD HEM. wish me luck!

in the meantime, my roommate and i – with the help of our AMAZING AWESOME FRIEND RAF – put up our christmas trees:
the cutest little pine tree, it is shorter than me (and i’m 5’2″!) and smells amazing. it was also difficult to get to stand straight/sturdy, so it is tied to the wall with mardi gras beads. oh, and raf did all the lights, because neither of us wanted to bother with putting them on. ha!

and my pride and joy, my silver tinsel tree from the 60s.

of course they are both in the same room. we are classy ladies.

3 Responses to “mini-tutorial: invisible hems”

  1. Rachael June 1, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    Thanks for this post! Really helpful and I’ll have to give it a shot soon. :)

  2. Lou Ann Bremers April 22, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    I’ve been working with woven blends with 3% spandex for pencil skirts and the hems are driving me crazy. I just can make them invisible! At first I was serging the edge but found that left a hump on the right side. I added bias cut woven tricot knit interfacing under the hem, removed the serged edge and tried again. It still showed and looked horrible. I’m hand sewing as well. Any tips? Thanks

    • LLADYBIRD April 22, 2013 at 10:20 am #

      Oooh, you know, it’s hard to tell without actually being there to look at it. Have you tried just pinking the edges, and then applying a strip of thin seam binding to the edge before hand-sewing the hem? The pinking sometimes helps the fabrics “blend” better. If that doesn’t work, you may just consider going with the visible hems (instead of fighting them) and topstitching.

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