Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Hemmer Foot Experience

Do you ever need to give yourself a BIG, visible reminder?

Today was time for tiers, and luckily no tears were involved. I wanted to share my technique for hemming what was basically the equivalent of sewing on kleenex. Organza or chiffon, a fabric of any other name would still be as frustrating (with apologies to Shakespeare).

I'm using my hemmer foot, and, while I've used it before, I wanted a refresher so I watched a couple of videos. First up, Bernina has great videos for all there presser feet, and this one was helpful. No search for "how to" videos is done without a stop at You Tube.

I really loved how she ran out of bobbin thread at the end. Don't you just hate that?!

OK, here we go...First, I practiced on scraps, but not too many because I just wanted to get on with it. In the process of sewing the side seams (I used a French seam, and now wish I had done it narrower... too late), and the staystitching, and perhaps just in the cutting process itself, I discovered the bottom was completely uneven. So, I folded it in quarters, made the raw edges at the top even, pinned and checked.
This one isn't too bad, so I left it alone. Several were way off, and I just took the rotary cutter, and carefully evened it up, without obsessing. Then I sprayed the bottom edge pretty liberally with starch, let it soak in a minute, and then pressed. I had pre-washed the fabric, so it's pretty soft and drapey now and the starch gave me just a teeny bit more control of the edge. Then it was time. How about an action shot?
I got better with each one, or at least knew what to expect. It was best to start in the middle where it was on the straight grain. I just folded it over twice, plopped the foot down, and took several stitches. Slowly. As I approached the bias edge, I held a single fold and eased it into the spiral on the foot. That went pretty well. Not surprisingly, it was easiest to feed and maintain when I was at the bias places, and hardest as it went from bias to straight and back again. And those silly seams, you're wondering? Well, I took Claire Kennedy's advice from the video and stopped about an inch before the seam, needle in, pulled the hem from the foot and continued manually until I was just past the seam. Then I just eased it back in like I did at the start.

These examples are from the same hem, just different areas. I didn't do any ripping out or stressing, but just let it all go. I can be a perfectionist, but this time ok is good enough. I did trim off any odd bits like you can see in the not so good example. Once pressed, it looked even better.

I did get even further, attaching two tiers to the inner skirt, but this post is getting kind of long so I think I'll keep y'all in suspense...


  1. Thanks so much for this great post. I have got some beautiful silk chiffon in my stash and when I work up enough courage to sew it I'm definitely going to refer back to your advice here.

  2. Starching before hemming - that sounds like a good idea. I am going to give it a try since using the hemming foot can be so tricky.



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