Friday, August 19, 2011

Sewing Lessons 101~ How To Repair A Blind Hem

If you aren't familiar with the term 'blind hem' it is also known as an invisible hem or hand hem.  These days most of our clothing is factory made and hems that are made this way are typically done using a blind hemmer.  I have used these when I was working in a tailor shop and they are a dream.  A pant hem can be completed in under a minute.  That's FAST!  The stitches are made using a single thread and the completed process creates a chain stitch that is secure but invisible on the right side of the fabric.  If you possess a blind hemmer you don't need this tutorial, but for the rest of us here is how to repair a blind hem that has come out OR stitch an entire hem by hand if you don't want to topstitch your hem on a sewing machine.  

For the sake of practicality I will treat this as a repair.  *please note that the photos will follow the instructions.

To start, select the color of thread that is closest to the color of your garment.  That way should you make a stitch a bit bigger and it shows through to the right side it will be camouflaged in the fabric.  Select a sewing needle that is on the smaller side.  A smaller needle will make it easier for you to make a smaller stitch.  And lastly always, ALWAYS sew your hand hems using a single thread.  Most of us were taught to thread the needle and pull the tails even and make a knot.  If that is how you were taught to hem I want you to unlearn that system.  Why?  First, 2 threads, especially when knotted tend to twist as you are stitching and they can bunch up and knot.  Second, 2 threads are bulky and you want the stitch to be invisible.  Thread these days is very strong and yes, one thread will adequately hold your hem together.  Trust me on this.  I had a tailoring business for decades and have done hundreds of hems this way.  So thread up your needle and pull the thread through but leave one tail longer than the other.  And do NOT make a knot.  Why?  A knot can show through on the right side especially if the fabric is sheer or silky.

Here is how to secure your thread to your hem.  (If you are repairing a hem that is only partially open, make sure to secure your thread an inch or so into the area that is still hemmed so as to secure any stitching 'ends' of the original hem.  Once you sew the loose part, continue to stitch another 1" into the other side of the original hem.  Make sense?  If not, contact me.)  
Insert the needle into the hem from the underside of the hem allowance no more than a quarter of an inch down from the top.  Leave a tail of about 1".  Re-insert the needle into the same hole and pull ALMOST all the way through.  Before you tighten that stitch down, feed the needle into the loop you have created and THEN pull all the way through.  Repeat this once more and your thread will be secured to the hem allowance without a bulky knot.  You can trim the tail off or tuck it into the hem.  

After securing your thread, insert the needle about 1/2" to the right of the knot right below the serging.  *Most garments these days have serged edges but some skirts will have hem tape or some other kind of finishing edge.  If your hem has nothing or a wide hem tape etc, make your stitches no deeper than 1/2".  Insert your needle from right to left making a stitch no bigger than 1/4" and ONLY going through the hem allowance.  You don't want this stitch to go through to the front of the fabric. 

Next pull the thread all the way through so it lays flat on the hem.  To make the next stitch, insert the needle about 1/2" to the right immediately ABOVE the serging being careful to only pick up a couple of the threads of the fabric.  This is what will make the hem blind.  If you 'dig' too deep with the needle the thread will show through.  Picking up 2 or 3 threads on the back of the fabric Will secure the hem.  Pull the thread all the way through so the thread lays nice and flat on the hem.  Don't pull too tight or the hem will bunch.  Then repeat these stitches all the way across.  

Once you complete the stitching reinsert the needle into the last stitch to make a loop, without picking up the front of the fabric.  Insert your needle into the loop and pull tight to make a knot.  Do this a second time to secure and clip off the thread.  

Here is what your hem should look like.  Note that I used heavy weight black thread on my fabric and by just picking up 2 threads on the underside the hem barely shows.  Had I used the same color as the fabric it would have been totally undetectable.

This is a fast and easy repair.  It is secure and by using the "X stitch" configuration it allows the hem to have an 'ease' to it making it look smooth and professional.  

Hope this helps you out the next time one of your hems lets loose.  With just a few neatly made, well placed stitches you can be up and running.

I am thinking for my next tutorial I will show you a few different ways to repair tears and split seams.  There are so many things that can cause us to have 'wardrobe malfunctions' and I have repaired just about everything that can go wrong from T-shirt seam allowances, to corner tears in shirts, to snags/holes in knits.  I will compile some of the most common problems and let you know how I have repaired these things through the years. 

Til next time~  :)