Monday, May 20, 2013

How Not to Hem a Dress

The following is obvious when viewed with 20-20 hindsight:
  1. Buy a dress made of a slippery fabric.
  2. Buy a dress with an overlay so you double the hems you need to alter.
  3. Procrastinate till the last moment to hem it.
  4. Use a specialty foot you have not used in years.
  5. Decide at the eleventh hour to add a scarf.
Friday morning, before I went to work, I began to hem a long dress to wear to a dance my husband and I were to attend Friday night. (Nothing like procrastination... ) It had a slippery under-layer and a sheer overlay so it was a double hem but I was doing it by machine and not by hand.

Boy, am I ever out of practice!  I have been sewing on cotton fabric for quilts for so long I have lost my knack for how to work with the slippery and sheer stuff.  Plus I was going to use my specialty foot that scrolls the fabric as you feed it through a spiral tube at the toe of the foot.

I cut off the length of fabric with my rotary cutter on my Olfa mat with relatively little difficulty- once I weighted down the dress with my heavy magnetic pin holder to keep it from sliding off the cutting table. I changed my needle to the size appropriate for sheers and light weight fabrics. I wound fresh bobbins of the royal blue thread color I planned to use. I found (alleluia) and installed my specialty pressure foot. I coiled the edge of the fabric into the inlet of the toe of the foot. The fabric would not cooperate. I could not it get to spiral into the toe of the foot for the life of me no matter how I prodded and coaxed that fabric edge into that funnel opening. I wound up running a stitch all around the edge with my trusty old quarter inch foot and then just turning the edge over twice by hand a couple inches at a time as I fed it under the normal pressure foot.  It was slow going but at least it was going and went well. The dress hem was not an item of beauty but luckily it was down there by my feet and not subject to close scrutiny.

Since I had to cut off about six inches of length I had this strip of pretty Monet-like sheer left over that I had discarded.  I looked at it in the trash and fished it out again to make a scarf. Besides, I was going to conquer that rolled hem foot and this was opportunity for practice. Then, and only then, did I remember the trick of running just a short length of stitching on the edge you want to hem, leaving the long trails of thread at the beginning.  You then feed those long strands through the spiral tube and tug gently from the back until the hem begins to feed and scroll on its own.  The scarf edge came out great - a nice fine rolled edge. Here is the dress hem on the left and the scarf edge on the right, both viewed from the wrong side.

The theme of the dance was spring flowers. I have no full length picture of me in the dress (drats) but here is a face view of Frank and me and a picture of the dress hanging on a hanger. Though the stitching may have been a bit untidy, at least the fabric was cut off at an even length. I changed my mind and never did wear the scarf.  But now I remember how to use that pressure foot! And all's well that ends well.  We had a good time at the dance. Several folks marveled at how my necklace matched my dress. This was purely coincidence, they were bought several years apart. Nobody noticed my hem.  Even I forgot about it. 


  1. Cute dress. It looks perfect to also wear on a cruise:-)

  2. Using it on our cruise is the plan.. how perceptive of you!