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Back 2 Basics - 6 ways to hem

This month I have started my Back 2 Basics collection. I am really excited about providing you all with the sewing basics. This is where I plan to keep it simple and start from the beginning.

Well as a lot of home sewers and parents are getting ready for the new school term, I thought it was a great opportunity to share some easy and practical tips on getting the most out of your uniforms (or the pretty new fabric you have just bought). Keep reading even if you are not in the “back to school” camp as the 6 ways to hem will be useful just the same.



 

Caring for your uniform


First of all, make sure you check the labels on your uniforms before you wash them. Different fabrics may have different washing instructions, such as water temperature, detergent type, or drying method. You don't want to ruin your uniforms by using the wrong settings on your washer or dryer. This is also true for any fabric that you have bought!! Make sure you get the care instructions before you leave the shop and wash when you get home!!


Top Tip: White vinegar instead of fabric softener is gentler on your items and helps prevent pilling – keeping them looking newer for longer!! (you just put it in the drawer instead of the softener)


Bonus tip: Washing items inside out also reduces pilling and can help minimise any dye transfer.


Extra Bonus tip: Even though a high spin helps cut down the drying time it could be damaging the fibres of your clothing which means they won’t last as long. If the weather is nice enough to dry your items outside, then consider reducing the spin speed and letting them dry outside.


OMG another tip: Lowering the spin speed also reduces the wrinkles and the need to iron things!!


Okay, let’s move on from laundry!!


 

Hems – It’s easy when you know how x

Check the length of trousers, shorts, skirts, and dresses. If they are too long, then we can totally fix them!! I am going to share 3 different hem methods. For each of these, you must make sure you have the correct length.


Length:

  • Decide on the length you would like – Iron the item at the new length. This will be the finished edge.

  • Seam allowance - Cut the item 3 inches (7.5cm) longer than the pressed line if you can – if you don’t have that much “extra” then unpick the original hem (don’t leave it as it will be too thick) check if you have enough now - if so cut to 3 inches, if not use what you have x

  • From the inside of the item, turn the bottom of the seam allowance up to the previously pressed finished edge and press the crease in.

  • Then turn up again and press again. This means you now have no raw edges visible.



Hand Sewing: Okey all you need is a needle and a matching thread, and you are good to go!!


Prep your needle and thread – you will use a single thread and tie a knot in the end. You want the thread to be long enough to sew the item without running out of thread. Measure the distance you need to sew and add 50% just to be on the safe side. Take your time when you sew as it might tangle. If you are sewing a skirt hem that is more than a meter of thread I would cut the thread to a length that will be enough to do from one side seam to the other and then repeat for the other half. You will now sew the hem using one of 3 stitches:



o Catch stitch = Which is invisible on the outside. You are working with the wrong side of the fabric (the inside of the item). You pick up stitches at 0.5-inch (1 cm) intervals a tiny stitch from the hem and the next from the actual fabric on the item of clothing – making sure it’s a little nibble that doesn’t go through to the front (although if your thread is a good match, you won’t see it anyway). It will create a wide zig-zag.


o Slip stitch = Which is almost invisible on the outside. You are working with the wrong side of the fabric (the inside of the item). You pick up a nibble on the main fabric avoiding going all the way through. Then slide the needle into the fold of the hem for about 0.5 inches (1cm) then bring the needle out the other side then a little nibble of the main fabric. Repeat all the way around.


o Hemming stitch = This is visible so a matching thread is required. You are working with the wrong side of the fabric (the inside of the item). These stitches are every 0.25 inches (0.5cm) You pick up a small stitch from the outside fabric and when the needle is visible on the inside again it should come through the fold of the hem. This is repeated all the way around.

Your hand-sewn hem is now done – And you have up to 3 inches of fabric for "growing" room!

(Hint: you repeat the above – just unpick the hem first)


 

Straight Stitch Machine sewing: You will need a sewing machine and matching thread.

  • Repeat all the steps above except the hand-sewing step.

  • Sew the hem using the straight stitch on your machine, making sure that you catch the top of the fold – it will be easier to do this with the hem folded side of the fabric as the fabric you see when you put it under the machine.

  • Please note that this method is not invisible but if the thread is a good match, it will do the job – especially on school dresses.


Blind Hem Machine sewing: You will need a sewing machine and matching thread and a blind (invisible) hem foot check if you have a blind hem stitch on your machine (it looks like the lines on a heart monitor)


This is a bit different but does give you an invisible finish. (Hand sewing can be quicker though!) It is worth doing this on a test piece first as you may need to tweak the settings of the needle/foot to get as blind a finish as possible)

  • Repeat as above without sewing!

  • Flip the item so that the wrong side is facing up.

  • Fold the hem under the item so that 0.25 inches (0.5cm) is visible.

  • Put the fabric under the blind hem foot – the main item of clothing should be on the left and fold in the hem should be butted up against the left-hand side of the bar of the blind hem foot.

  • Manually turn the wheel to make the needle enter the fabric – you want it to just and no more hit the left side of the folded fabric to create the smallest stitch possible!

  • Stitch round.

  • Fold the hem back into its correct position and press.


 

Even better news is that I have done a video showing you how to do all of the above hems. Check it out below if you are a visual learner.


 

Iron-on hem tape AKA wonderweb: great to have in your mending basket.

If you need to use this, then don’t double fold the hem just iron it on where the bottom edge of the clothing item meets the inside of the item. That way you still have “growing room”. Double folding will be too heavy, and it won’t sit flat. It’s worth pointing out that this does become unstuck the more it's washed.


 

Lengthening !! – bonus share xx

To make them last as long as possible you might need to let down the hems on skirts, dresses, and trousers. To do this you simply unpick and on the wrong side of the fabric press out the crease using a damp cloth, steam, water spray, or all three for stubborn creases. Once the crease is removed start again. If trousers are okay in the waist but you can’t lengthen them anymore then cut them into shorts!!


 

Terminology:

Press = Put the iron on the crease and don’t move it for a few seconds, then lift it off and repeat as necessary.

Iron = Move the iron over the fabric in a continuous sweeping motion – best done with the grain of the fabric to avoid damaging it.

Wrong side = back of the fabric, non-patterned side of the fabric, inside of an item of clothing.


By following these simple tips, you can keep your uniforms in good shape and save yourself some hassle. I hope this was useful and will make your mending more manageable.


Happy Hemming xx


Fiona,



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