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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Prom Dresses and Rolled Hem Frustrations

If you have a daughter, or have had a daughter in high school, then you know all about Prom and the importance of having the perfect dress.  It has to be perfect.  Oh, that was last year.  This year, of course, is different ...

It is the Senior Prom and this prom dress has to be perfect.  Did I say "Perfect?"  And, not just for Sarah - who I am taking on Friday to be fitted for her Prom dress.  In the meantime, Sarah has a girlfriend who has already purchased her dress and it was a bit too long for her.  So, she asked me if I would please hem her dress for her.  

"Sure I will, Maria, I'd be happy to."  Of course, there is more to this than meets the eye, because I have not done a rolled hem in ... at least a dozen years.  I trust, though, that if I practice on some scraps first, I'll be fine.  And, after ripping out the hem 3 times, and the seams twice, I assure you I now know what I am talking about.

PROMDRESS_4061

The original hem.  Sarah's friend, Maria, came over with her dress last week and put it on for me, with her shoes, of course, and it was about an inch too long and dragging on the floor.  So, I pinned it up to where it should be and Maria went on her merry way home.

I cut off the original hem 1/4" less than where it will be finished to leave enough for a rolled hem of 1/8" (3mm).  Remember that when you cut off a hem, to leave enough for the new hem.  

PROMDRESS_4065

Now this is where I learned a valuable lesson that I am going to share with you - NEVER attempt to use your rolled hem presser foot over a finished seam.  Unless, of course, you enjoy punishing yourself and ripping out seams.  Since I know that you don't like this anymore than I do, my best tip for creating a rolled hem is to first take out at least an inch of the seams like you see above.  

Why, you ask?  Because when your rolled hem presser foot gets to the seam, there will be too much bulk for it to feed through the presser foot, thereby creating one big mess with your thread, your dress, your hem, and yanking off your presser foot which is now almost permanently affixed to the dress.  Since Maria does not want to go to prom with my rolled hem presser foot attached to her hem, I suppose I should fix this ... and I did ... because I'm wonderful like that.

PROMDRESS_4067

This is the rolled hem presser foot I will be using on my Pfaff.  It looks intimidating, I know, but don't let it.  It really isn't that difficult.  You just have to have patience.

PROMDRESS_4069

This is the bottom side of the presser foot.  See the indentation?  That is going to be the width of the hem.  Teeny tiny hem.  In this case, this is a 3mm (approx. 1/8") rolled hem presser foot.  So, the next time you are shopping for a rolled hem foot and can't figure out how wide the hem will be that the foot creates, just look on the back of the foot.

PROMDRESS_4070

See the little curly-que on the front of the foot?  That is where you will feed the raw edge of the fabric and the foot will do the rest.

PROMDRESS_4072

Click on the image above to take a closer look here, but you'll notice that I have rolled a teeny-tiny hem and placed the needle down through the center of the hem - without the presser foot.  The reason I did this was so that I could see what I was doing.  Also, I have a Pfaff  machine which has presser feet that simply snap on.  

PROMDRESS_4073

Yours may be a little different, but if you have an easy snap-on presser foot mechanism like mine, then before you begin your rolled hem project, roll a tiny hem with your fingers and put the needle down through it to hold it in place - first.

PROMDRESS_4074

With your needle remaining "down" into the rolled hem, snap on your presser foot and stitch about 5 stitches.  Just enough to get the rolled hem started.  Then with your needle down (sometimes you can set your machine to stop sewing with the needle down), you will feed the raw edge into the curly-que on the front of the presser foot ...

PROMDRESS_4077

Just like this.

PROMDRESS_4078

When you start sewing - slowly - the raw edge of your fabric will feed through the presser foot, curl around, and give you a very nice rolled hem.

PROMDRESS_4084

While the fabric is feeding through the foot, use your fingers to coax it through correctly, as not to feed too much fabric.  You want the raw edge of the hem to align with the edge of your presser foot on the left, and the edge of the fold to align with the right side of the foot, just like the picture above.

NOTE: When you get to the end of a section where the seams have been opened about an inch, simply start the process again for the next section of the skirt or dress.  In this case, I had 4 sections of the hem to create the rolled hem.  I had to open the seams of 4 sections so that when I am using the rolled hem presser foot, I wouldn't have to feed a bulky section of seams into the presser foot.  

When you have completed the rolled hem on all the sections of your project, pin the seams back together and sew them closed.  Your rolled hem will look cleaner and more professional and your presser foot won't get stuck in the dress!!

PROMDRESS_4086

The result?  A professional rolled hem.

PROMDRESS_4088

And a beautiful dress waiting for prom memories to be made.

* * * * *

I have a friend who asked me a question that I thought I would share with you  ...

"What's the purpose of a rolled hem and why would I want to do this?"  

Well, If you try to create a 1/2" or wider hem on a dress like this, it would look bad.  First of all, the stitching (even if you hand stitch) would be visible to some extent, and secondly, and most importantly, you'd have puckering.  As you work your way around the bottom edge of the hem, you'll find that the hem has more fabric than where you are stitching it to the dress, creating puckers all the way around the hem.  The reason for this is because the dress is not a "straight skirt" but a "flared skirt" instead.  The smaller the hem on the dress, the less puckering you will have, because the finished hem is so narrow and so close to the raw edge of the skirt.  Got it?  I hope I explained that right.

Anyway, if you have a dress, skirt, or something else to hem requiring a narrow hem, don't be afraid of that curly presser foot.  The hardest part is getting started, after that it's a piece of cake.

Speaking of cake ... I think I'll go have a piece of chocolate cake.

Happy Sewing!

SusansThreadSignature

 


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