Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hemming Stitch

Wednesday Tip of the Week

As a sewing instructor I am continually amazed at how many of my students abhor the prospect of doing any hand stitching (the same can be said for ironing). Granted, most of my students are beginner sewers so any and every new sewing technique is greeted with some hesitation. I expect that, but if you want to sew, some hand sewing is going to be necessary.  Learning how to do just a few simple hand stitches is all one needs to handle a wide variety of applications.

There is one stitch I consider my 'go-to' hand stitch that I believe any sewer must learn. I use it almost exclusively for hemming, but it is also the stitch I use to attach linings around a zipper or kick pleat or facing. It's a particularly good one because the stitches (if done carefully) are hardly visible, both on the right side and underside which makes any garment look professionally done. 

The technical name of this stitch is a slip stitch. When done to join one fabric to another or to add an applique where the underside will not be visible, it's called a fell stitch. The difference of the two is their appearance on the underside of the project. Both look exactly the same on the right side - a small, simple pick stitch is all you should see. On the wrong side, or underside, the slip stitch produces a very small, hardly visible pick stitch.  For the underside of the fell stitch, a longer diagonal stitch is visible. In either case, the process of producing the 2 stitches is very similar. 

Here is how you sew each of them:
Slip Stitch -- my default stitch for hemming

 1.  Pin the hem in place. Position the garment so the hem is turned up (north) and facing you. You are going to sew from right to left. Begin at a seam. Thread a needle with a fairly long length of thread.

To strengthen the thread and prevent it from knotting up, I run it through some beeswax. Now knot one end of a single thread. 

2. Begin the stitch by running the needle from the backside of a seam allowance, as shown in the photo, up through the top of the hem edge (6 o'clock).  Notice the needle placement is roughly 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the hem edge. 

3. Now take a tiny -no more than a thread- stitch directly above (12 o'clock) into the garment base. The resulting stitch should be quick small and perfectly vertical. 

4. Next, angle the needle to enter the hem edge approximately 1/2 inch from the first stitch. (The space between each stitch will depend on the nature of the application and the fabric) Bring up the needle at the 6 o'clock position and repeat the process described in steps 2 and 3. 

5. Continue this process throughout the hem making sure only a thread or two is captured of the garment fabric. Also make sure the spaces between the stitches is consistent.  On the underside or right side of the garment, only small, evenly spaced pick stitches should be visible. If applying on lofty or dense fabrics, the stitches will most likely not be visible at all. 

The Fell Stitch- used for securing one piece to another where the underside will not be visible. The directions are based on attaching lining to a zipper on the inside of a garment.

1. Begin in the same fashion as the slip stitch - in this example start at the top of the zipper. From the 6 o'clock position direct the needle to enter the zipper tape at 12 o'clock as in the slip stitch. The difference is instead of just capturing a thread of zipper tape, the needle is inserted into the zipper tape, and while under the tape angles 45 degrees and comes out into the folded edge of the connecting lining.  Repeat.

2. Only the small vertical stitches going from the 6 to 12 o'clock positions should be visible. Nothing should be visible on the underside or right side of the garment. All of the stitches should be contained between the zipper tape and the garment fabric. 

3. Here again, the stitches should be evenly spaced, but closer together -  1/8 to 1/4 inch apart. 

1 comment:

  1. Great post - one remark - please add to iron the thread after putting it through beewax. It is very important - specially for beginners - and often forgotten addition.