Mastering the Narrow Hemmer, Part Two
by Carol Laflin Ahles
from Threads #98, pp. 36-40
I learned how to manage my narrow hemmer when circumstances placed a huge edge-finishing project in my lap. After 150 yd. of hemming, I had it down! But if I’d had the information I needed at the start, it wouldn’t have taken even a fraction of that effort to master this essential tool. In fact, I’ve taught literally thousands of people to narrow-hem successfully just by sharing the same rarely provided information offered here. But there’s no question that a little time spent practicing hemming before you tackle your project will pay off, so give yourself every advantage; your results will show it. Just cut a long, narrow strip of your garment fabric, start away from a corner, and stitch until it feels comfortable. You can just trim away your mistakes with a rotary cutter. To get more useful tips like this one, order a subscription of Threads magazine which comes with FREE access to our tablet editions.
Starting a narrow hem
Begin away from a corner if possible.
1. Trim edge; a rotary cutter is ideal for this.
2. Form a hem (with the fabric wrong side up) the same width as the channel on the underside of the narrow hemmer by folding the fabric edge over twice where the narrow hem is to begin. Pin parallel to the edge.
3. Position the pinned hem under the hemmer with the outer edge against the toe and lower the presser foot.
4. Take two to three stitches, turning the flywheel toward you by hand, near the inside folded hem edge and just left of the pin. Stop with the needle down, lift the presser foot, and remove the pin.
5. Feed the fabric edge into the curl of the hemmer, pulling gently on the fabric in front of the foot.
6. Lower the presser foot and begin to stitch slowly, pulling the thread tails gently toward the back for the first few stitches.
Always guide the fabric with two hands
Use your left hand to control the width and position of the fabric in the foot. Use your right hand to guide the edge into the foot. Keep the fabric slightly raised against the curl.
Common left-handed feeding problems
If necessary, remove stitches to the last correct section and start again.
Gap between the fabric and the toe: The hem won’t form, or the raw edge will not be folded under.
Fabric slipping under the toe: The hem won’t form, or the raw edge will not be folded under.
Not enough fabric being fed for the hem: The raw edge will not be folded under.
Too much fabric being fed into the curl: The hem will be too thick, and excess fabric will protrude from the hem.
Mastering the Narrow Hemmer, Part One
Mastering the Narrow Hemmer, Part Three
Basic and advanced techniques
Carol Laflin Ahles writes and sews in Houston, Texas. She is the author of Fine Machine Sewing.
Photos: David Page Coffin; drawings: Karen Meyer
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