I have a confession to make. I am really LAZY when I sew. I mean it. If there is a faster/cheaper/easier way, I will always take that route.
Circle skirt hems are a great example. First of all, I usually steer clear of circular hems. I have suffered some emotional trauma at the hands of the curving skirt hem, and I generally avoid them. But, when I can't escape it, I just slap some bias tape on there and move on with my life. Unfortunately, I didn't have coordinating bias tape for my most recent gift for the 7-year-old-fashionista, so I had to take the tough road.
Have you searched online for narrow hem tutorials lately? Abysmal number of offerings. Which is why I decided to put together the options here.
There are several ways to to sew a narrow hem on a circle skirt. One of the most common techniques involves the rolled hem foot on your sewing machine. I know I own one of these, but I neglected to take a picture. You can check your machine manual, or do an online search. If you have never used this attachment, feel free to go try it out. This tutorial will still be here when you come back. Because, yes, the rolled hem foot is THAT terrible.
If you have tried to hem a curved skirt already, then you know all about the evil wrinkles and you are looking for a solution. I hope you find the following techniques less stressful than what you have already attempted.
Option #1 - for those without a serger:
On the right side of your fabric, stitch a scant 1/4" (meaning just less than 1/4") from the raw edge of your hem all the way around.
Clip the curve close to your stitching if you want to (I do).
On the wrong side of your fabric, fold the raw edge over just past the stitched line. Press.
Fold again - appx. 1/4" more. Press.
TOPSTITCH a scant 1/4" (or less) around the hem.
Notes on option 1:
-The reason for stitching along that raw edge is so that you get a more uniform measurement when you fold. Also, it helps to prevent your curve from stretching while you fold.
-I know you may prefer to have the folded side up when you stitch the hem, but you need to accept that the feed dogs (those jagged tracks that move your fabric along) are your friends. By top-stitching, you are allowing the machine to gently stretch the folded fabric and prevent wrinkling.
-You may still get an errant wrinkle or two with this method, but it will not be nearly as bad (or noticeable) as it would be without this technique.
Option #2 - Or, why you should acquire a serger immediately.
Stitch a narrow overlock stitch along the raw edge of the fabric.
On the wrong side of your fabric, fold the raw edge appx. 1/4". Press.
TOPSTITCH a scant 1/4" (or less) around the hem.
Notes on option 2:
-This method results in a slightly longer hem, so pay attention to your garment measurements.
-For as much grief as my serger gives me, this is why I keep it around. The finished result using this method is flawless.
- You could probably use a zig-zag stitch if you don't have a serger, but several launderings could start to produce fray.
And, there you have it. I hope these techniques help you to get a nearly flawless hem with very little effort. Please feel free to leave feedback about how these tips work for you!
I'm so glad it was helpful to you, Cathy! It always frustrates me when I can't find a straightforward tutorial for a technique that gives me trouble. I'm not a pro, by any means, but when I find something that works I can't help but share it.
Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have sewn for years and never knew how to do a narrow hem and like you I just avoided them. Am looking forward to sewing a curved hem real soon.
Thank you for recommending Fine Machine Sewing, Karen. I will definitely check my library for it. I truly do hate that rolled hem foot! :)
Thanks for that, I'm fortunate enough to own a serger (overlocker) but not a narrow hemmer foot!
By coincidence I just bought myself "Fine Machine Sewing" by Carol Laflin Ahles (the Completly Revised and Updated version) as I am interested in using my machine to try Heirloom Sewing. I have also discovered it's a fabulous resource for improving all my machine sewing!
Chapter 9 is on "Narrow Hemming" and I quote "Like many sewers, I was frustrated and disappointed with my first attempts at using these accessories - until I was asked to hem the sides of floor-to-ceiling fabric panels....... After narrow hemming more than 150 yards of Broadcloth I knew exactly how to use narrow hemmers! Since then I have taught more than 6,000 people how to narrow hem successfully by sharing a few critical tips that are rarely included in instructions. A little practice definitely helps, but I promise you won't need to hem 150 yards to be able to use your hemmers for quick and neat hems!"
I bought the book from The Book Depository for £11.33 ($18.80 US) and it's free shipping worldwide. You might want to get it from the library and check it out if you have had a bad experience with a Narrow Hemming foot and want to get over it!
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