How to Sew Tiny Hems
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Supplies for Sewing Tiny Hems
- Sewing Machine in good working order
- Default Zig-Zag Presser Foot
- Needle appropriate to your fabric (Microtex work wonderfully for many delicate fabrics)
- Small Scissors or snips (Zede’s Favorite Scissors work wonders)
- Duckbill Scissors
- Embroidery Thread that matches your fabric (both in top, bobbin, and on the serger, if applicable)
- Cotton Organdy Press Cloth
- Optional- Water soluble or Tear Away Stabilizer
General Instructions and Considerations
Leave a 1/2″ hem allowance for all of the techniques listed below. We DO NOT recommend pressing the hem in place before sewing. You may steam or press your fabric flat before beginning to sew, but pressing the hem in ahead of time can stretch out and distort your hems.
Test your hemming technique on a scrap, if possible, and cut a piece on the straight of grain and the curve, so that you can practice and see the result of your hemming on the bias of the fabric.
All hems are sewn from the right or top side of your hem. The upper thread of your straight stitch always looks a little nicer than your bobbin thread. Choosing accurate landmarks while sewing will sure you catch all layers of your hem. Never watch your needle while you sew. Establish a hem/seam allowance and watch a stationary landmark or guide.
Pressing or steaming your hem after sewing it will give you a nice finish. Make sure to press, don’t rub the iron back and forth over the work.
Bridesmaid’s Hem 1
Set your machine to a 2mm straight stitch and stitch all the way around your hem 1/4″ away from your raw edge. You can achieve this stitching line however you like. Feel free to move your needle within your stitching area and use the edge of your presser foot as a guide, or whatever works for you. Just remember, set yourself up with a landmark that does not move. Always watch a stationery guide as you sew, don’t watch your needle- it’s moving up and down pretty fast! No need to backstitch, simply sew in the round and stitch over previous stitching to secure.
Change your straight stitch to 3mm. Fold your fabric at the stitching line (the 2mm stitch has given you an almost “perforated folding line) and fold once agin to enclose the raw edge. Stitch in the round, once again, making sure that your needle pierces and secures all layers. You might need to adjust your needle position or change the landmark you use, because this line of stitching will be slightly inside 1/4” away from the folded hem.
Stitch over previous stitching to secure and trim threads.
Bridesmaid’s Hem 2
If folding the fabric twice to enclose the raw edge is too difficult for you (either because of the nature of your fabric or lack of practice), do the hem in 3 steps, instead of 2.
With a 2mm straight stitch, stitch 1/4″ away from the raw edge of your fabric all the way around your hem, as described in the first Bridesmaid’s Hem. Stitch over previous stitching to secure and trim thread tails.
Change to a 3mm straight stitch and fold your raw edge up once at your first stitching line. Stitch all the way around the hem, piercing both layers. Fold up one more time and repeat. You’ll have one line of stitching on the right side of your garment, and two lines of stitching on the underside. Stitch over previous stitching to secure, and trim threads.
Serger Tiny Hem
Use a 3-Thread Overlock Narrow to finish the raw edge of your hem, cutting off 1/4″ as you serge with the right side of the garment facing up toward you. Use the longest stitch length you can, while still keeping the edge of your fabric neat. You can use machine embroidery thread in the needle and loopers of your serger to reduce bulk.
At the sewing machine, turn your serged hem under, use a 3mm straight stitch to topstitch it down. Stitch over previous stitching to secure and trim threads.
Sheer Tiny Hem
Use a 2mm straight stitch to stitch 1/2″ away from the raw edge of your fabric. Stitch over previous stitching to secure.
Next, set your machine to a tiny zig-zag: approximately 1.5mm width and 1.5mm length.
Fold up your fabric along your stitching line and then line up your fabric so that the big bag encases the folded edge of the fabric. When your needle swings to the right, it should just miss the edge of the fabric and enclose the folded edge. Zig-zag in the round, and secure by stitching over previous stitching. Trim away excess fabric with sharp duckbill scissors.
If your machine’s feed dogs will not support such delicate work, use a water soluble or tear-away stabilizer under your hem on the zig-zag step of the process. After stitching, gently tear away the stabilizer while supporting your stitches and be careful not to stretch out your hem or distort your stitching. The tiny zig-zag should help perforate the stabilizer, so that it’s easy to remove.
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