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Friday, January 27, 2017

How to Hem a Curved Edge with a Sewing Machine

One of the first sewing skills I learned was how to hem.  A little ironing and pinning and patience, and voila!  I have a beautiful hem.  It didn't take me long into my first curved skirt, though, to realize that the regular hemming method wasn't going to cut it.  If you've ever tried to straight-hem a circle skirt or A-line dress, you know what I mean!  But there's good news -- a very simple technique will help solve that! 

Today I will show you how I hem on a curve -- it's a very precise method and takes only one step more than you're used to with straight hemming.  Today's tutorial works for both rolled hems and folded hems.  It's good on subtle curves such as the bottom of an A-line dress, or more dramatic curves like a circle skirt, and even the most round-and-small projects like those cute pockets in the photo above. No matter what curve you're trying to hem, this tutorial should help you get it done! 

For today, I'm going to use Jillian's A-Line Snap Dress as our example. The instructions for curve hemming are already in the pattern, and today you kind of get a sneak peek on the technique so you can use it on all your projects.  Let's get started! 

First, sew your dress/skirt/project up to the point where it is ready to hem.

Then use a long gathering stitch, with the tension set at 5 (halfway), to sew along the bottom raw edge of the fabric, 1/4” from the edge. Be sure not to backstitch at the beginning or end -- you need the threads to be loose at both ends. 

When you’re done, you want the bottom edge to be only slightly gathered. (Maybe even a little less than in the photo!)   If your fabric didn't gather (bunch up) at all, grab the end threads and slide the fabric onto them more to gather it slightly. Do not over-gather though!

Turn the fabric so the wrong side is facing up. Fold the bottom gathered edge to the wrong side of the fabric and use an iron to set the fold.  As you do so, you will use the gathered thread to “round” the fold so it can be ironed evenly on a curve. As you iron all around the curve, loosen or tighten the gathers as necessary. There should not be any puckers or gathers on the actual folded edge.

Note: The amount you fold will depend on the type of hem you're doing.  For a rolled hem, fold it 1/4".  For a folded hem, fold it the amount instructed in the pattern; it may be 1/4", 3/8", 1/2" etc.) 

Next, fold the bottom edge up to the wrong side of the fabric again.  Loosen the stitches more if necessary and use an iron to set the curved fold, pinning as you go. Notice in the photo above that there should be no puckers at the bottom folded edge. 

 (Note: Again, the amount you fold will depend on the type of hem you're doing. For a rolled hem, fold it 1/4" for the second time too. For a folded hem, it may be 1/2", 3/4", 1", etc. for the second fold. Whichever you do, be sure to pin as you go!)

After the edges are all folded twice and pinned, sew the bottom hem in place near the upper fold, all around the curved edges, removing the pins as you go.  

On the right side of the fabric, the stitching should look something like the photo above. 

And you're done!  That wasn't bad at all, was it?  Like I said, it was just one extra step.  Now there are no limits to what you can neatly hem with your sewing machine!  Even if your skirt, dress, pocket, or other project has a curved edge, you can hem it like a pro.  

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 

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