Friday, 2 August 2013

The Blind Hemmer Foot - A Saga

My daring boyfriend started a new job a couple weeks ago.  And, as with all new jobs, this required a new wardrobe. (Ok, not all new jobs need a new wardrobe, but the best ones do!)  One new pair of dress pants came home a solid three inches too long, and after a quick “Darling would you please?” I had agreed to hem his pants...

Ladies and gentlemen, this should not have taken me anywhere near three and a half to four hours.  But, it did.  To this point, I had never used the blind hem foot.  So a part of this exorbitant amount of time was spent with the machine’s manual, and looking at YouTube tutorials.  But an embarrassing amount of time was spent staring at the machine, willing the stitches to line up. 

As a monument to my struggles, and an inspiration to others (so that you can say ‘at least I wasn’t as bad as Angie was’ when you try), I thought I’d document my painful process. 

Step One:
Pour over the manual and identify the blind hem stitch.  It’s a straight stitch with an occasional zigzag.  Then, watch at least a few YouTube tutorials. This one was fairly helpful.

Step Two:
I measured up 3.5 inches, which was the ‘tiny bit’ that his pants needed shortening, then turned the pants and ironed in the new hem to get a good crease.  (Pro Tip: Follow the iron’s guidelines for the type of fabric you’re working with.  Yes, I have learned that the hard way.)  I put a few pins just above the hem to hold the crease while I did the next couple steps.

Step Three:
Unpick the old hem.  Fun Fact: Dress pants have a single turn hem, not the double that I was taught to use for everything.  My guess is that this helps them hang nicely.  Fun Fact #2: I double turned his pants anyway.  Yes, I realize now it would have been very easy to adjust the tutorial methods.  No, I didn’t realize that at the time.  Once the old hem was unpicked, I cut the pants at the crease of where they were originally hemmed.  That left me 3.5” to make the new hem.

Step Four:
Fold that 3.5” so that the raw edge is tucked away.  And, iron again.  Generally, I kind of like the ironing part of sewing.  But, with my current dining room table set up, and no ironing board, switching between sewing and ironing was a bit of a trail...

Step Five:
Creative folding.  The idea is to have the pants inside out, then fold the hem so most of it is inside the pant leg, leaving about 3/8ths of an inch sticking out, and then you have a fold of the pant leg on top.  The straight stitches will be on the hem allowance while the zigzag will sneak out and catch a tiny bit of pant leg.  You might need to adjust your stitch width so that you only catch a tiny bit.  To do this, I walked my machine until the zigzag stitch, lowered the needle half way and then adjusted until the needle was in the right spot.

Step Six:
Sew.  Yes, it sounds just that easy.  It’s unfortunately harder than it sounds.  If you don’t sew in a perfectly straight line, you either don’t catch the pant leg, or you catch too much and the stitch is visible on the right side.  I did both.  Personally, I think I’d need to walk the whole hem to actually have one that is perfectly invisible.  Luckily, my honey didn’t mind having just a mostly-invisible hem.

So, I hope that you enjoyed hearing about my struggles.  If I ever find an easier way to do this, I promise to share with all of you!

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