Monday, March 9, 2015

Blind Hem Tutorial

This is the real reason I brought out that blind hem foot last week: at 5'1", it's hard to find clothes that fit me properly, and I end up having to shorten things a lot. A standard hem isn't too hard, but for certain garments, a blind hem is just the ticket. 

In this post, I've documented my process for hemming pants, but you can do a blind hem for skirts and shirts, too. You could probably even do them for sleeves, though I don't know if I've seen that done. You don't even need to have a height problem to need to hem things–maybe you just want ankle-length pants, or a shorter skirt.

For a proper hem adjustment, you'll want to get a hemming ruler and some chalk. A sewing gauge* is particularly valuable here, because that marker will do a lot of the length memorizing. I've also started using this Chaco "chalk pen"* which I'm liking very much–enough that I've ordered another! Having another larger ruler around is good, but not completely necessary.
*Note: links are Amazon affiliate links. I receive a whopping 4% of your associated purchase as Amazon credit.

Here is something I never thought I'd write, but check out my feet:

These pants are actually petite-sized already, meaning the crotch isn't too long and the shaping is in the right place, but I think they are better sized for heels. In this picture, you can kind of see how baggy they look around my calves. It's especially pronounced at the top, where I'm not wearing shoes, and less so at the bottom, when I'm in flats. In heels (these are about 2" high), they're still a little bit long, but acceptably so.

However, flats are almost always what I'm wearing, so some shortening is definitely required. This is my process.

Step 1: Determine new length
Put your garment on, and figure out roughly where you want it to fall. Use your chalk marker and gently make a mark or place a pin. Measure the distance from the hem to that line. You don't have to be too exact, and definitely err on the side of having too much fabric. You can trim it down if it's too long, but you can't grow it back.

Step 2: Remove original stitching
If there is at least an inch of fabric between the hem stitching line and the mark you just made, you don't have to do this step, since we'll just cut it all off later. If not, look carefully at the existing stitches and pick them out.

Step 3: Mark the new hem
Using your sewing gauge place the end of the ruler against the mark you made, and move the slider to sit just snugly against the fold of the hem. Turn your garment right-side in, and mark along the bottom using the gauge. The slider will ensure a consistent length.

Do the same for both legs, if you're working on pants or shorts.

Step 4: Mark cutting line
That line we just made is where the garment will end. But we need seam allowance!

Move the slider on the sewing gauge to about 1", and mark another line below the first.

Step 5: Cut
Next, cut along that lower line. Be careful not to catch the other layer of your garment!

Step 6: Edge finish & pin
It's best to finish your edges now, either by zig-zagging or serging. Once you've done that, fold the hem up along that first line we drew, and using the sewing gauge to insure that it's even. Pin the hem up.

It's best to try this on to make sure the length is correct, so you may want to hand-baste first, to avoid poking yourself. Machine basting may not be appropriate in this case, depending on your fabric.

Step 7: Blind hem
If everything looks OK, then fold the entire hem inwards, so that the right sides are together, but some excess fabric sticks out. For an example, check out last week's post on blind hemming.

Every fabric reacts differently, so you may need to adjust using the dial.

Step 8: Wear!
After hemming, remove any remaining basting stitches and press the hem down.

The stitches should be nearly invisible!

Here are my feet again: 

The bagginess is gone when I'm barefoot, and I'm no longer stepping on the hem in my flats. It's hard to tell with my heels, since they're dark also, but everything is looking pretty good! These pants and my blue silk camisole make a pretty cute work outfit.

Like many things, hemming takes a little bit of patience and practice, but once you understand it, it's very easy. Happy sewing!

1 comment:

  1. Great post, great technique -- and I like your feet, too.