Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Advice for Using a Rolled Hem Foot

I mentioned in the post about my La Sylphide Dress that I'd had trouble perfecting my rolled hem at the points where you need to hem across the side seam. Reading the comments on this post I noticed that a fair few of you also suffer from similar issues when using this wonderful but at times tricky and frustrating sewing machine foot. I've been doing a bit of detective work on the internet to see if I could find any tips to improve my rolled hems and thought it might be interested in what I found.

I uncovered a few different tips and approaches. One of which was just to accept that those areas of your hem were never going to be perfect and move on! Well, this may just be me, but I'm way too much of a perfectionist to go with that technique!

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 I found the Threads Magazine tutorial the most thorough and useful, it can be found here in parts one, two and three. Part three shares some really interesting information about the fiddly aspects of a rolled hem, such as including a facing and special hemming effects. As a couple of you actually shared in the comments on my original post the tip given here is to grade the side seam allowances at the hem so there's less bulk to feed through that little loop on the foot. They even suggest using a glue stick to keep the seam allowances flat as you hem! I think this technique would work out great if you were using quite a stable fabric which is fairly easy to manage, maybe like a cotton voile. If your fabric is more temperamental when it comes to doing what you want and staying in place (e.g. a silk crepe de chine or chiffon) you may have some trouble getting those graded seam allowances to feed through neatly, even with the glue!

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If this is you you may benefit from a tip I came across a few times, explained with photographs in this tutorial from Sew4Home. This is to stop using the rolled hem foot a short way before the point where you are about to intersect a seam and sew a few inches turning the hem by hand and using the foot as a standard presser foot. Once you've passed the seam you can start feeding the hem through the foot again. You may benefit from pressing these areas up before you begin your hem to help you manually turn under these areas when you get to it. Or you could skip over these areas and return to hand stitch them to finish off.

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My favourite discovery and I think the least fiddly way is described in this tutorial from Raisin Toast. Susan has you unpick the side seams by a couple of inches and do a rolled hem on each panel individually, thus avoiding the issue of sewing over side seams altogether! Then you simple sew up those few last inches to achieve a nice clean finish. I did think 'well why not hem each pattern piece before you attach them together rather than unpicking?' when I first read it but I think it's wisest to construct the garment as usual, finishing with the hem so you can ensure that it is nice and level when worn .

Jen from Grainline Studio has also done a great tutorial on how to achieve a tiny rolled hem without even using the foot! I've tried a similar method to create slightly wider hems on a couple of garments and pressing along the line of stitching really does work brilliantly.

I think each method will have positives and negatives depending on the particular fabric you are using. I'll keep you updated with how I get on trying them out. I hope some of those tips may provide a happier relationship with your rolled hem feet and those tricky fabrics!

10 comments:

  1. This is so so helpful - thanks for posting, I've had a rolled hem foot in my amazon basket for ages and I've been putting off buying as I had no idea how I might use it. Will come back to this post when I finally do.

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    1. O get one! I do think they're worth it, they're just a little tricky to master!

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  2. I can't seem to master my rolled-hem foot even on a plain piece of cotton lawn!

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    1. I'm sure you can! They just need patience and a bit of practice to get right. The first time I tried I thought it was impossible!

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  3. This is a really helpful post, thanks Fiona! I got a rolled hem foot for Christmas, but haven't tried using it yet, so I will folow your guidance!

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    1. Great Christmas present! There are some really great tips and photos if you follow through that Threads tutorial I linked. Think it would be really helpful for a first try

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  4. Interesting! I've liked your post for when I feel brave enough to try it again. Last time didn't work out so well.. Luckily it's wool season now here!

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    1. Same here! I still can't seem to resist sewing lightweight fabrics though! Give it another go! I think it just takes A LOT of practice

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  5. Loving the blog, you've made some gorgeous items :)

    Hannah.
    http://surfjewels.tumblr.com/

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!