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12/24/2009

Two Ways to Tame T-Shirt Hems

Hemming the knit garments that we sew can often be a frustrating experience. 
Wavy, stretched-out, lumpy, and uneven hems are all too common. 
Here are 2 easy ways to get great looking hems on knit garments every time!



The first way to hem knit garments and the one I use most often is by "Crowding the Needle".  

As you can see in the photo above, as the un-stitched part of the hem of this knit top approaches the needle, I push it towards the needle. This lets the feed dogs do all the work while I gently guide the fabric,  deliberately "pushing" it towards the needle with one hand...while I keep the garment straight by guiding it gently with the other hand behind the presser-foot.  "Crowding the Needle" this way acts like the differential feed of a serger, producing a nice smooth hem with no puckers or waves.  This method works best when there is very light pressure on the foot, and when you stitch slowly.  Just FYI...Sometimes "Crowding the Needle" is referred to as "Feeding the Dogs" :)


The second way to tame knit fabric hems is by using any of the various brands of 
Clear "Water Soluble" embroidery stabilizers...such as the brand-name product, "Solvy" 
(easily available at chain fabric stores).

As pictured below, first cut about a 10-inch length of the stabilizer. Then roll it up into a tube. Next, as shown below, cut off a "slice" of the tube the depth of the hem. I usually cut several 1-inch "slices", as that is the hem depth I use on most knit garments.





Now you have several nice uniform strips of stabilizer ready to FUSE your hem.

Fuse?


Yes, that's right, you will be using the stabilizer to temporarily "fuse" the hem into place before stitching. Here's how:


Just as you would use regular fusible web to permanently fuse a hem, place your strip of "clear wash-away stabilizer" between the hem allowance and the garment ("inside" the hem). Then thoroughly steam-press the hem. This melts the water-soluble stabilizer strip, temporarily holding the hem in place while also making the hem area firm and completely stable.  If the "Clear wash-away stabilizer" doesn't melt enough to hold the hem in place, steam again from the other side, or lightly spray the hem area with water and steam again.

Now stitch your totally stabilized hem. A twin-needle hem works especially well, because the hem area is so stable that the stitches will not "tunnel".
Once your hem is stitched, the stabilizer is easily and completely removed from the garment by a quick trip through the rinse cycle of the washing machine. After drying, your hem will be soft, flexible, and beautiful...with no puckers or waves!




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