Three Blind Mice, Hemming Trousers.

25 Jun

Hemming is something I get asked about the most. It is usually a fairly simple straight forward double turn and then a straight stitch. However some fabrics and cuts make life a bit more difficult. I think blind hemming is the most technically difficult hem I have came across. This is because there is a particular way to fold the fabric, there is a different foot, and there is a lot of ironing involved. However it is so worth it when you nail it. I have taught this technique a million times but I usually ask my students to use their imagination as having 8 pairs of dress trousers available to work on was never feasible. So perhaps this blog will also help some of them get their head full round it. So here is how it’s done:

Put your trousers on inside out and get someone to turn them up to the right length and stick a wee pin in it to keep it secure. You only need to do this on one leg and using one pin. Now take the trousers off and keep them inside out. Instead of measuring the inside leg, measure the length you are turning up as shown below.

At this point I would like to apologise for the STATE of my nails in this. I wasn’t really expecting to do this tutorial tonight! Anyway, measure the length you are turning the trousers up by and use this measurement to ensure both trouser legs are taken up by the same amount. Now iron a firm crease in the trousers.

This crease is very important as it will stop you accidently taking your trousers up too little or too much later. Now to cut off the excess fabric. Leave about 3 or 4 cm of extra fabric.

 Now for the tricky bit. You have to fold that creased edge inside the trousers so that the edge you have just cut is now the outermost edge. Hard to explain but have a look at the pictures.

Don’t fold the raw edge away under the other layer of fabric, you need to leave at least 5mm of the raw edge sticking out like so.

Now use the iron again to create another crease. Make sure the first crease you made is still in place, otherwise you will end up with trousers that are not the desired length! Use a couple of pins to keep everything in place.

Now to the sewing machine! If your machine has a removable arm, now is the time to remove it. This part comes off to allow you to sew trousers legs, sleeves and anything else with a restricted space for you to get the machine into. Thread your machine with a colour that is as close as possible to the trouser fabric. Ideally I think a grey thread probably would have been more suited to my trousers, but could I find any grey thread? Of course not.

You now need to locate(or buy!) your blind hemming foot. You can blind hem without it but this would be a nightmare of Freddie Kruger proportions so best to buy yourself one of these.

Goodness, excuse my awful photography here! On the left you can see the normal presser foot and on the right is my blind hemming foot. These are positioned here as they would attach to the machine.

Next you want to select the blind hemming stitch. It looks like ‘E’ in the photograph above. I usually set my stitch length to 2 and my stitch width to anything over 3.

Place your pressed and pinned trouser leg underneath the needle. The blind hem foot has a white guide that you can adjust using the metal wheel(see below). You can see here that it is a fairly straight forward nut and bolt setup. Move the wheel/nut in and it moves the white guide in. Place the folded edge against the guide(not under it!).

The guide ensures you sew in a straight line which is very important. If you look at the diagram of the stitch you will see a few small zig zags followed by one large zig zag that jumps across to the left. When you are sewing a blind hem you want to ensure that all the small zig zags are to the right of the fold and the big zig zag just clips the edge of the fold. The best way to do this is to initially use the wheel at the end of the machine to ‘walk’ the machine through. Watch as the machine does the small zig zags on the right hand side of the fold and then allow the big zig zag to clip the edge of the fold. This is where you need to use the wheel to adjust the guide as it is very unlikely that you have everything lined up correctly!

If the big zig zag misses the fold completely firstly remove the needle by turning the wheel clockwise(or into reverse). You don’t want that stitch to be permanent until everything is lined up properly. Secondly lift your presser foot, move your fabric to the right slightly (i’m talking millimetres here), move your guide to the right slightly and put the presser foot back down.

If you find the big zig zag has jumped in too far(more than 1mm is too far) then follow the above steps substituting ‘right’ for ‘left’.

I don’t bother back-tacking when I am using this stitch instead I overlap them slightly at the end. So If I start sewing at the inside seam I will finish a cm or two after the inside seam. Now you can turn your trousers out and press the hem.

This is what your trousers should now look like. You should only be able to see the tiniest dots on the outside, or nothing at all if you could locate your bloody grey thread! :p

I hope this photograph heavy tutorial is useful to you and I promise I’ll paint my nails next time!

Jenny x

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