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Author Topic: Narrow Hem, No Cussing  (Read 9898 times)
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Elizabeth
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« on: January 17, 2007, 04:29:19 PM »

This is one of the techniques I often give in handsewing workshops.  It works like a charm for those who have a hard time "getting" rolled and whipped edges, and makes a very tidy, narrow hem on just about anything.

Press the raw edge to be hemmed to the wrong side about 1/4".  You can do this with an iron, or with your thumbnail.  The width isn't terribly vital--it does need to be an even fold, or you'll have a wavy hem.

With very sharp scissors, trim that raw edge to about 1/16" away from the fold--yes, cut off a good three-quarters of what you just folded over. 

Thread a needle, and knot one end very small and tidy, then bring the needle up through the fabric fold, burying the knot inside the fold.  OR, secure your thread with a tiny repeated backstitch in the fold.  You'll be working from the right to the left.

Your needle comes up through the fold, then bring it down to take a teeny "nip" out of the base fabric right beneath the trimmed portion.  Zag back up and take a "nip" out of the folded edge.  Back down to the base of the trimmed area, and take a nip.  Back up to the fold and take a nip.  (Anchoring the knot is the only part that comes up under the fold.)  The stitches will form little N shapes. 

Take stitches for about 1", then very gently, pull up your thread.  The fold will roll over, and the raw trimmed edge will be hidden inside a very narrow (1/32" wide!) rolled edge.  Adjust the tension so the rolled portion lays smooth--you don't want it pulled so tight it puckers.  Trim another inch or two, then start forward again: nip out of the base fabric at the edge of the trimmed portion, nip out of the fold, etc.

NNNNNNNNN  and away you go.

I'll try to get a sketch up later--it's a snap in person, and for those who do well with written instructions, going step by step will do the trick, but for many, an illustration helps. Smiley
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Elizabeth
BarbaraSmith
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« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2007, 04:59:17 PM »

One thing that might help you - Spray some starch on the fold and press. Don't HEAVY starch it, just a touch. That will keep the fabric pressed, if it wants to unfold on you (which happens to me constantly).

This will gum up your needle some. Do keep "wiping" it through an emery (the strawberry part of your tomato pin cushion is filled with emery powder which cleans your needles) to keep it sharp and clean.

And try to finish the hemming all at once. I never do seem to be able to finish a hem in one sitting. And I don't have kids! Sheesh....  If you have to put it down, you might have to re-press when you come back.

Cheers,
B.
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Veronica Carey
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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2007, 06:25:05 PM »

OK, Elizabeth, just to make sure I understand.  The narrow hem you taught at Westville last spring was different, right?  It was:
bury the thread knot inside the fold, come out at the top of the fold, come down and take your nip right below the folded fabric, THEN BACK UP UNDER THE FOLD with the needle to the top of the fold, come out at the top, then back down for your nip, etc.  I just got through doing this for a cap brim edge, and it came out very nicely.  I just folded with my fingers an inch or so, did my stitches, etc, pulled up gently, and it all rolled under, and continued all the way around (the corners were a little tricky).
 
So, explain again why you are suggesting a different way?  (Not that different is bad, I just wonder whether one is better for some applications, etc.)  The trimming to a really narrow amount seems a little nerve-wracking, but I will try anything if it works better!

Also, do you have any special advice for corners?
Thanks!
Veronica
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Mary Warren
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« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2007, 07:05:11 PM »

O K, I warned you, I have a tough time with this whole rolled hem business.  Could you explain "take a nip"?  When I think about taking a nip it usually doesn't have anything to do with sewing. Shocked

Mary Warren
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Mary Warren

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Elizabeth
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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2007, 07:21:16 PM »

Oh, brandy in a flask is likely a bit helpful. Smiley

More later on the different techniques, and a diagram.  I'm stealing the computer from a bronchitis-y David as soon as his codeine kicks in. Smiley
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2007, 07:22:46 PM »

I read "take a nip" as only catch one or two threads. Don't take a BIG BITE (like 20-30 threads).

Does that make sense? You are trying to make nearly invisible stitches.

Cheers,
B.
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Veronica Carey
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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2007, 07:48:19 PM »

Hi Mary:
Hi Mary:   Barb is right--the nip is just a few threads, taken up with the point of your needle.  It is then so easy to just angle the needle right back up to the top of the fold and take a "nip" there, too (if going up over the fold, as Elizabeth just described.)  Since I have been using the technique that she taught us here in Gawgia last spring, after I take my nip of a few threads just below the folded fabric, I angle the tip of the needle UNDER the fold and out the top of fold, then bring it back down and take another nip below the folded fabric, etc, moving along about 1/8" for each stitch (remember, this is usually done on very sheer or light weight fabric, so the stitches tend to be pretty darn small.)

Anyway, don't feel bad.  At 57, having been sewing all my life, I only just learned a rolled hem from Elizabeth last year.  I had tried to learn it from a book, but all I had were old texts that assumed you had learned all this stuff by the time your were four.  And they just told you to roll the fabric in your fingers and stitch.  How helpful.  Instead, learning it from Elizabeth, it was like magic!  Really cool when after about an inch of stitches, you tug lightly and the whole thing just rolls under and looks so tidy!

I do want to know what the difference between the two techniques is, though. 
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BarbaraSmith
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2007, 10:25:33 PM »

Gawgia? Is that anywhere east of Alabama?  Grin

Hee hee,
B.
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Veronica Carey
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« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2007, 07:16:56 AM »

Sorry I misspelled that.  Its "Jawjuh". 
Veronica
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2007, 09:03:50 AM »

Okay--the variance in technique: it's not a big one.  Both methods (up under the fold, or nip through the fold) will give a tidy, narrow roll.  For not-in-person situations, it seems to be easier for many to visualize the little N formation of the stitches.  The shape is the same even coming up through the fold, but you don't *see* the N, and that throws folks if they're just reading, and not seeing it in person.

It is easier than many find a rolled and whipped hem... this one is just rolled, not whipped.  Corners are more difficult.  I tend to blunt them off on the diagonal, and roll around them for a small, "round the corner" finish.  It's a good idea to start at least 2" from any corner, if possible. Smiley

Sketches later.
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Elizabeth
Veronica Carey
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« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2007, 10:46:07 AM »

Thanks Liz!
Veronica
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RizziOskoui
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« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2007, 02:22:05 PM »

I guess this might be more geared towards those of you with access to originals...is/was this the preferred hemming stitch for fine personal linens, like linen handkerchiefs?

I've been hemming practice poly-thingy linen (NEVER AGAIN!!!) for random hankies to use as basket covers and for wrapping things in, but I've been using a simple basting stitch - single thread, eight-ten to the inch - and the fabric is still fraying. Is that just a result of the fiber material? I need something femenine to wave at those darling solidiers marching past....and accidentely drop at dances, but beside the point entirely  Cheesy
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BarbaraSmith
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« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2007, 02:57:00 PM »

Hey! This might help. Not sure, I didn't actually view it yet (blocked at work):

http://www.stonemountainfabric.com/pages/videos.html

There's a "baby hem" video that might help.

Check out the other freebies, too!

Thanks for the link, Amanda!
B.
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Cisa
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« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2007, 10:07:15 PM »

I just attempted my very first rolled hem after reading this thread and I'm happy to say that it worked!  I figured it out and it doesn't look half bad, if I do say so myself!  It's definately wider than it should have been, but not in a bad way.  It looks quite nice and where a little of the stitching is visible from the outside, the lace that I'm going to trim it with will completely cover it up.

Squee!  You ladies are so wonderfully helpful! Cheesy
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Veronica Carey
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« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2007, 08:50:45 AM »

Good girl!  You get a gold star!
Veronica
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2007, 09:04:30 AM »

Good job!  You'll find your "bites" get smaller and more regular with additional practice.  And, I like to use a delicate needle (#10 sharp is about the biggest), and match the thread as closely as possible to the thread weight of the fabric.  For nice batiste, a regular 50wt sewing cotton (normal machine weight) is a bit heavy.  Move to an 80wt or 100wt thread, and it blends very, very well.  Usually you'll find 80wt and 100wt threads in independent quilt shops and heirloom sewing shops.

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Elizabeth
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« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2007, 09:05:57 AM »

Elizabeth, thanks for that tip on thread weight. I've been having fits with my narrow hems. No doubt a finer thread will make me happier on my finer cottons.

Cheers,
Barbara
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« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2007, 09:18:21 AM »

It will.  Sorry for the delay in recommending it.  Brain like a seive most days, you know.
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2007, 09:19:19 AM »

Oh gosh no! I never asked!  Grin I'm thinking of a narrow hemmed 18thC kerchief I made out of sheer windowpane cotton and how unhappy I was with the stitches looking so big and clunky.

Cheers,
B.
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« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2007, 09:32:35 AM »

I agree - the finer weight threads and needles makes a huge difference. However, I couldn't find any needles finer than 9s or thread finer than 50 here locally (I have a JoAnn and a JoAnn Superstore, as well as a quilt shop). I ordered 10 and 12 needles as well as 80 and 100 wt thread from Lacis. It was a thrill to fell the seams of my drawers - the smaller needle made it easier to take the right sized bite and the finer thread blends near perfectly with the threads of the material. I also recommend Virginia Mescher's article on workbaskets - very informative!
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Regards,
Denise
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