Saturday, July 3, 2010

Quick and dirty rolled hems. No serger required!

Rolled hems are infinitely useful in costumes. They're light, flexible and quick. They're also a pain in the behind if you don't own a serger or have a serger that requires everything short of standing on your head to change functions.

So lets say that you only have a sewing machine available, or you don't like standing on your head. What's a costumer to do?

Today I'll show you a "quick and dirty" method for creating a rolled hem using the zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine!

Here We Go!

We'll start by setting your sewing machine to the widest zig-zag stitch available, and crank the wheel once around to be sure your needle isn't going to hit the presser foot.

Your stitch length will be very short. A length of 1 or 1.5 gives a nice, lightweight hem. Every machine is different, so once you try this you'll need to play with this setting to find a length that you're happy with.

Rotate your needle into the down position on the RIGHT HAND side of the zig-zag.

Place your fabric on a firm surface, and fold the raw edge in roughly 1/8 of an inch. Crease lightly being careful not to stretch the fabric. If you're more disciplined than I am, you can pre-fold and press these edges...but again, this is the quick and dirty version.

Place the folded edge under the presser foot, with the crease pushed up against the side of the needle, and drop your presser foot. It's best to start on a wide section of fabric. Starting on a narrow little tip will cause your fabric to push down into the needle plate.

Be sure to hold your top and bottom threads out the back as you take your first few stitches. This saves your thread from becoming 'nested' under the needle plate, or making an unsightly tangle in your pretty hem.

Start slowly! As you sew, the needle should fall into the fabric on the left side of the stitch and JUST off of the fabric on the right hand side of the stitch.

If you're in a hurry and didn't press your fold in place (or lazy, like me) you'll need to keep folding the edge as it comes under your foot.

Your finished product is a tidy rolled hem with a lovely uniform edge.
The left side of this photo shows a stitch length of 1.5 and the right side is a length of 1.

A Few Tips
~* Stretching or pulling gently on your fabric as you stitch will produce a gentle wave in your hem.
~* Stretching or pulling HARD on a knit fabric will produce a frilly "lettuce" edge. A very short stitch length is required, and you need to steam the hem when you're finished to make it contract and ruffle.
~* If you are working on the bias (diagonal) and you DON'T want a wavy edge, pre-fold and press your fold into place. Be VERY CAREFUL not to tug, pull or drag on the fabric as it passes under the needle.

What Else Can I Use It For?
~* Table Linens
~* Sashes and Ribbon edges
~* Scarves and Handkerchiefs
~* Pre-finishing raw fabric edges before laundering.
~* A tidy edge for ruffles!

I hope this how-to is useful for you.

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