RAY-STITCH WORKSHOP 2/5

Sewing a blind hem

INTERMEDIATE STEPS – DRESSMAKING TECHNIQUES FOR THE PROFICIENT SEAMSTRESS 2/5

I learned so much from the Ray-Stitch workshop today. I’ve always wondered what some of the mysterious stitch styles were on my home sewing machine. Being able to sew a blind hem has always baffled me and I’m not one for hand sewing (who has time for that!) so finding out about the mystery of the blind hem was a real joy.

SEWING A BLIND HEM (ON A SEWING MACHINE)

First of all you’ll need to know if your machine has the settings for a blind hem stitch. At the Ray-Stitch workshop we were using Janome SMD5018 sewing machines and I have a basic Janome (disguised as a John Lewis machine at home) which has the blind hem stitch function. The stitch style looks similar to a heart beat (see picture further down which illustrates this), with good machines they may already come with a blind hem foot similar to this one:

Blind hem foot

Blind hem foot. Image courtesy of coatsandclarksewingsecrets.com

On our Janome machines the stitch style looks like this setting (helpfully it also has a picture of the foot needed), see G in this example:

Blind hem foot picture

G shows the blind hem stitch style and matching foot you should use for it.

If not you’ll need to buy a blind hem foot that suits your machine, plenty of those here.
An adjustable foot is useful (see the screw and plastic guide in the previous photo) to help you guide the stitches into the hem as you sew. Every third stitch goes into the hem creating the single ‘invisible’ stitch on the facing side.

Blind hems are perfect for cotton fabrics and trouser and skirt hem lines. Blind hems (with a sewing machine) do not work so great with man-made fibres as the stitches tend to bunch up, so cottons or linens are ideal.

INSTRUCTIONS

In the workshop we were using a 3cm seam allowance, so we measured and pressed that. Turning the fabric (calico) to front facing, fold the flap back up so 1cm peeps over the top like this photo shows, the 1cm is peeping out on the right:

Pressed blind hem

The first fold and press is the 3m seam allowance. Fold it back up 1cm, so 1cm of fabric peeps over the top reverse facing.

To start sewing you’ll need to adjust your blind hem foot so that the first two stitches only stitch the right side of the fabric and the third stitch connects with the fabric on the left. I found it useful to use the sewing machine’s handwheel to see where the first two stitches are going to hit the fabric. A little bit of adjustment of the screw to align the plastic guide will be needed to start you off. When I was sewing the plastic guide helpfully sat directly opposite the needle, but may not always be the case for you.

In this photo you can see the example of where the two stitches hits the right side of the fabric and then the single stitch (bigger zig-zag) on the left:

Blind hem stitching on the reverse

See where the two stitches hit the right side of the fabric and the single stitch hits the left. This is what creates the invisible stitch on the front facing fabric.

Turn your fabric over and press. In the example below (front facing) you can barely see the single stitches  showing through (sorry calico and cream thread doesn’t show up so well in photos) but you can see where the fabric is pulled about two inches apart. It’s quite difficult to see in this photo which I’d say that was a success!

Blind hem front facing

You can barely see the stitches on the front facing side of the fabric.

It was really useful to keep these examples as reminders after the workshop to know how to do them again. All three of us took notes throughout! I’ll definitely be using the blind hem on future projects. How about you?

RAY-STITCH WORKSHOP 1/5

Ray-Stitch workshop: invisible zip

INTERMEDIATE STEPS – DRESSMAKING TECHNIQUES FOR THE PROFICIENT SEAMSTRESS 1/5

Having already attended the Make do and mend workshop at Walthamstow’s Cheekyhandmades and wanting to do more selfish sewing (hate that term) I signed up for Ray-Stitch’s bit-of-a-mouth-full titled ‘Intermediate Steps – Dressmaking Techniques for the Proficient Seamstress’.

Here we learned techniques that would turn your hand made garments into professional looking clothes with a number of finishes that can help beginner sewists gain confidence in zips, hems and stitch styles. The class covered invisible zips, lapped zips, french seams, flat felled seam, blind hem, pin hem and button holes.

My personal fear is zips and have avoided any patterns so far with zips so today I faced my fear and in this blog post I walk you through what we learned for a great invisible zip finish.

Sewing an invisible zip

One thing to note about invisible zips is that the process is back-to-front (if you’re already familiar with ordinary zips – which I’m not!) You’ll need a regular zipper foot and an invisible zip foot. Check that they fit your sewing machine brand.

Instructions

Lay your zip on top of your fabric (reverse) with the top part of the zip at the top part of your fabric or garment and mark with chalk or washable pen just above where the teeth of the zip joins at the base (on invisible zips the teeth are merged together, on a regular zip this is the metal square tab at the bottom).

Press your fabric however your seam allowance specifies (here we were using 1.5cm).

Turning the iron down for nylons, not to melt the zip carefully iron the front facing of the zip teasing out the teeth. This helps get a closer finish when sewing the zip into the fabric. Repeat on the other facing side.

With your fabric facing right side up, open the zip fully and place on top of your fabric with the teeth lining up with where you’ve pressed, pin this vertically like so:

Pinning an invisible zip

Fabric right side facing up, invisible zip facing down. Pin close to the pressed seam.

The invisible zip foot  has two settings (left and right) to ensure you have the zip ‘channel’ set to the right side. In this case the majority of the zip foot should sit on the right of the zip, this image below from website Husqvarna shows this in better detail:

Close up of invisible foot

Image credit: Husqvarna.com

 

Stitch all the way to the bottom of the zip and as close to the base and backstitch.

Turning the fabric and zip right side facing up, twist the second side of the zip forwards on to the right side of the other half of your fabric, so the second part of the zip sits reverse side down on your pressed seam like so (excuse the finger!):

Twist zip

Right side facing up, twist over and pin zip to pressed seam.

Pin in place.

Swapping sides of your zipper foot making sure the opposite channel now can ‘accept’ the zipper teeth, sew all the way down to the base (where you previously marked where the zip ends) backstitch.

To finish off, swap to the regular zipper foot and start stitching from your chalk line past the base of the zip and continue until the end of your garment/project requires keeping an eye on your seam allowance (our was 1.5cm throughout).

Sewing the zipper

Sew as close as you can to the zipper.

Here are the results of the finished zip!

Invisible zip closed. Front facing

Invisible zip closed. Nearly perfect!

Inviszip5

Invisible zip closed. Reverse facing. You can’t see the stitches but they’re there!

Inviszip6

Ironing the zip first helps you get close to the teeth and a neat finish.

I hope this helped you, I’m certainly going to try an invisible zip on my next project! More blogs to come from this workshop.

SEWING NOVICE TIPS: SEWING A STRAIGHT LINE WITH WASHI TAPE

Sewing_tips_straight_lineThis may seem a silly place to start but as a novice sewist one of the hardest parts of sewing I find is accuracy and sewing a straight line. I’m an impatient sewist and want my project to be completed as quick as possible so I’m not the most neatest of sewists!

As a an avid craftsperson I have a stash of craft goodies, so when I started on my first clothing makes (a simple elasticated skirt) I had some Washi tape at hand to aid me in sewing a simple straight line.

Sewing_tips_straight_line2

Washi tape originates from Japan (a fairly new invention from 2006). Washi tape has boomed over the years and has been used all for so many creative projects, just check out the hundreds of ideas on Pinterest.

The best thing about washi tape (apart from the stunning colours and patterns) is the glue, it sticks well to paper  but easy to peel off) and also rough surfaces, but not so much on anything else, so washi will not leave a sticky residue behind on your sewing machine or fabrics.

Using washi tape (compared to using the guide on your machine) gives you a bit more flexibility when sewing. For example I find it useful using a length of washi to help me guide in my fabric to help gain a straight sewing line. It’s also useful as a guide when your seam allowance is larger than your sewing machine’s allowance guides. Here’s some examples:

Sewing_tips_straight_line1

Here I’m using the tape to help me guide in the fabric, and I’m also using (roughly) an 8mm seam allowance, so slightly less than the 10mm on the sewing machine’s guide.

 

Sewing_tips_straight_line3

Here (this is on a skirt hem) I’m using quite a wide allowance so have created my own guide with my washi tape.

After writing this post it seems I’m not the only one, Heather here from the Sewing Loft uses it for quilt cutting guides and keeping small pieces of fabric in place, she has a whole list of uses here.

And this How to Sew blog also has some good uses for it too, from organising your supplies to displaying your work on the wall.

You can buy washi from most high street stationers like Paperchase , but you can get them from online stores such as Hobbycraft, huge selections on Etsy and of course Amazon.

Do you use washi tape other than sewing a straight line? I’d love to hear your washi tape tips and ideas!