Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sew along, day 22: hem your dress!

Dress before hemming, but otherwise finished
You're finally almost finished! You need to hem your dress and lining. We'll start with the lining so you're not tempted to wear the dress out without hemming the lining.

You can hem the lining one of two ways. Since it's not visible, you don't really need a really pretty hem, you just need to finish the edge so it doesn't fray. I go back to my handy overlock stitch--the same one we used for the reusable grocery bag and to finish the edges of the ruffle. I just sew around the bottom of the lining (which is shorter than the dress, so it won't show). Alternatively, you could hem the lining like you'll hem the dress, which I'll describe below.
Finished lining edge
Lining side of the dress (this is after I hemmed
both the lining and the dress), the front is a little
bunched because the ruffle is on the inside--
the important part is that there are no visible
seams inside! 
Zipper from the inside--it's a little less invisible
than it is on the outside, but it still looks clean,
and there are no threads or anything sticking out
for the zipper to get stuck on.
Finished lining from the back
There are a number of ways you could hem the dress. The official instructions for the coffee date dress pattern say to use a blind hem. My machine has a blind hem stitch, but it never ends up being quite so blind because I apparently cannot sew in a straight line. Sewing a blind hem by hand is not trivial, not super difficult either, so that's an option. You could also just fold the fabric up ~1/2 inch, stitch, and fold up again, stitching near the edge of the fabric, not the fold. This doesn't require too much precision or cutting. 

However, since the skirt is curved at the bottom, it's easiest to sew a very narrow hem. I think this type of hem has a name, but I can't think of it, so I'll just list the instructions. It's pretty similar to a rolled hem, but I don't have a special rolled hem foot for my sewing machine.

1) Trim your skirt to ~5/8" longer than you want the finished product to be. Mine was about the right length, so I didn't worry about this.
2) Fold up the bottom of the skirt ~3/8" and press it. Use a few pins to keep it in place.
3) Sew very close to the fold--about 1/8-1/4"--I use the line on my presser foot to guide me. Make sure to press this hem to get rid of any wrinkles before moving on!
After I pressed up the bottom ~3/8" and sewed very close
to the fold--see my stitching line?
4) Trim off the excess as close to your stitching line as possible.
I really need to get tinier sewing scissors so I can get closer,
but this is my trimming as close the the stitching line as I can.
5) Fold ~right at the stitching line (a tiny bit past it so it doesn't show), encasing the raw edge. Press and pin.
6) Sew along this fold. Press over the seam to get rid of any wrinkles.
Finished hem from the outside
Finished hem from the inside
Congratulations! Your dress is finished!
Finished dress, more pics to come tomorrow!
Finished dress, more pics to come tomorrow
I have one final piece of advice: run your dress through the washing machine before really wearing it. This will not only remove any marks you made with your fabric pen, but it will also draw attention to any flaws in your sewing. For example, one time I basted below the zipper of a dress (I wasn't doing an invisible zipper, so there was basting involved to put in the zipper itself) and never sewed over it with a regular stitch. I bent down at a miniature golf course and bam! Dress split down the back! I've told this story before, but this seems like a good point to remind you. The washing machine would probably have pulled out some of the basting. After it comes out of the wash, give it a good ironing, and check all the seams to make sure they've held up. Then it's ready to wear!

I'll post pictures of my final dress tomorrow. I'd love to see yours! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE post them on the flickr group page. You don't need to include any identifying info, but I'd love to see all your dresses!

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