Blind hem tutorial

So many different ways to make a hem. For knits, it is important that the stitch stretches with the fabric.  I love being able to take the time and enjoy the zen in a hand stitched hem, but sometimes I just want to get it done, so I can move on to the next project.  This is where a machine made blind hem comes into play.

First step is to try on the garment and check side, front and back views to be sure the hemline is even.  Now is the time to adjust and straighten.

Once that is done, overlock the raw edge.  Then fold up and press the hem.  In a hurry, I am pretty good at eyeballing a 3/4 or 1 inch hem, and baste with the longest stitch your machine can make.

Hem serged and basted into place. Notice the length and  placement of the basting stitches in tan.

Some clips come with markings that will make this job a breeze.

Make this seam along the needle thread of your overlocked seam.  This will give you a ledge to stitch on in the next step.

Fold the hem back up to the right side of your garment (like the cuff on pants).

Pull the quarter inch of serged/overlocked edge to the right.  It is just a tiny bit. Everything else goes to the left.


Serged edge to the right and the hem is folded up underneath and moved to the left.  If you look closely you may be able to tell that this picture was taken after the hem was sewn, making the serging look wobbly.


Attach a blind hem foot to your machine.  Mine looks like this.  The actual stitch is a modified zig zag and looks like this.  Several straight stitches on the right, then a zag to the left.

Blind hem foot and blind hem stitch selection

Set it up so that the guide/blade is nestled up against the fold of the fabric, and that the straight stitches are on the tiny strip of serging, and the one stitch that goes to the left goes into just a few threads of the fold.  This is called the bite. This zigged stitch is what gives the blind hem some stretch.

It may take some adjusting in either moving the needle position left or right, or widening or narrowing the stitch width to get your positioning just right.  Roll a few stitches by hand by turning the fly wheel manually.  When you are satisfied with your bite, you can just sew around the circle of your hem maintaining the relationship between the blade and the fold of your fabric.  I go round and overlap my previous stitches by several inches.  Back tacking with this foot is problematic.  The overlap will keep it from unraveling.

Straight stitches on the right and one zag to the left.

If the bite is too big, it will show on the right side of your garment.  If it is too small, there will be no hem.

If you missed catching the fold on more than a couple stitches, it would be wise to stitch over that section, or go in with a hand stitch or two.  If the bite is too wide, it is best to remove those stitches.


Can you see the huge stitch that was too big of a bite?  This was at the beginning of my hem, and will be removed, since I overlapped and the newest stitches will take over.


Inspect your hem.  If it looks good (nearly invisible on the right side) you are ready to remove the basting stitches and give it one more press.


The stitches should look like a tiny dimple in the fabric.  Matching thread is a good idea here.

It is always a good idea to test for stretchiness of stitches on scraps, and with practice, the blind stitch just may become one of your favorites!

I am thinking that this dress may need pockets.  Stay tuned!

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Reversible Mobius Swim Bra Top

100 years before I was born, a genius mathematician came up with the idea of a Mobius strip.  August Ferdinand Mobius created it, but M.C. Escher made it more famous in his picture of ants crawling on the one side of a strip, infinitely marching Red Ants.  You may remember this from art class, perhaps.

I am a great fan of reversible items, especially garments.  So many fun combinations of color can be used.  In this case, I used the same color for both sides, and changed the order of sewing, so that there is no inside or outside.  For the next one, I plan to use two different colors.

This is Stitch Upon A Time’s Brazi pattern.  I used a wonderful wicking fabric from Phee.


Lay out your pieces, so that your back-strap edges match up to the front-strap edges, and that the center front crossover of the Brazi is facing outwards.  I had to think about this several times as it looks wrong, but once the straps are crossed to form the famous keyhole back, all will be well. Sew the short shoulder seams right sides together on main and lining fabric.


For seams that cross, I like to borrow a tip from our quilting sisters.  Nestle the two seams together so one seam goes left and the other goes right.  It may be good to clip, fabric glue or pin those in place along the edge, and prepare to go slowly over the seam or lift the presser foot a little to get it over the hump.

With right sides together, I serged the front crossover to back under arm in one long seam simultaneously adding ¼ inch clear elastic, repeated for the other side, and center, from underarm to underarm.  A note about serging elastic, do not stretch the elastic other than to keep it straight on the fabric.


I love that the elastic can thread like dental floss through this opening on top of the foot, and feed under it.  I learned at Albuquerque Fashion Incubators to hold my sewing in two hands independently.  For example, the elastic in my left hand to keep it far from the blade and the fabric in my left hand to keep it close to the blade.

I started and finished about ½ inch from the edge of each arm pit, and let it go over a little bit on the center fronts.  No over locker/serger, no problem!  Just use a good wide stretch stitch that will go through the elastic and give you a stretchy seam that does not pop.  Practice on scraps so you know for sure.

Here you can pull the center fronts through the strap seams to turn your Brazi right side out.  Depending on your skill and fabric, it could be a good idea to press with a low iron at this point.  We will be crossing those straps to form the famous keyhole back, then sewing our side seams.


Brazi turned right side out.  To press or not to press?

Next, we will be nestling seams together, one pointing left and the other pointing right,


Seam allowances pinned together so that they face opposite directions, and reduce bulk.

Sew right and left side seams from bottom of main fabric bra across the previously sewn seam then to the bottom of the lining.  Opened up, it looks like the picture below.


Configure your Brazi so that it looks like this.


Can you see the infinity symbol yet?

Next, I used a triple stitch to top stitch the edges of the Brazi.  A regular or triple zig zag, serpentine or lightening stitch or your favorite stretch stitch works here.  Check it to be sure it stretches without popping the seam.  The three parallel straight stitch icon is really two forward and one back.  Not fun to remove, but oh so stretchy!


Some of my favorite stitches in this photo!


 #20 Bernina foot with the needle to the left is one of my favorites for top stitching.  The inside of the toes of the foot give me a nice wall to guide the edge of my fabric against.  Starting at one front edge,  you will surprisingly find yourself finishing at the other front edge in one infinite seam.  Or at least it seems infinite.  This is where the Mobius reference is coming from.


You can see the triple stitch in action behind the foot. Other brands may have an open toed embroidery foot that will work.

I used a safety pin to pin the actual center fronts together, by matching up the notches.  Try it on now, and make sure you have the coverage you like.  As well as the crossover.  Try right over left and left over right.  I have read that it makes a difference.   Once you get it how you like it, make a nice wide zig zag baste around the raw edges at the bottom of your bra.  Make this on the very edge, so that it will be included in the seam allowance, and you will not need to remove it later.  I used 3 wide and 3 long on my machine.  This will stretch and should not pop.


Brazi ready to be tried on, then basted around the raw edges with a 3 wide 3 long zig zag.

I have learned after decades of fast sewing and skipping the basting steps, that it is more efficient to baste, than to take out stitches and sew again.  I am currently a bigger fan of basting than I am of ripping.


Mark the center point of your band by folding it in half.  Here I used a black sharpie.  Don’t use ball point pens they can run and ruin your garment.


Band folded in half ready for marking.

Also mark the center point of your short edge.  Make a first partial seam that is back tacked on either end and is about ½ inch long.  Second portion of that seam on the short edge starts at the center dot and goes to the other end.  Back tack at beginning and end.

IMG_8832 (1)

Stop and go stitches leaves an opening to insert elastic later.

Here comes that zig zag basting stitch again.  On one long edge, fold the band to the wrong side about 3/8 inch and zig zag that down with a 3 wide and 3 long seam (that can be removed easily later).  Alternatively, if you are a fan of wash away wonder tape, that could be used here.


Band that has been folded up 3/8 and zig zag basted to stay in place.


With right sides together, pin or clip the center front and center backs of the band and bra together, pin or clip again at the quarter marks and perhaps at the 1/8 marks.  Sew this seam with a triple stitch, or your favorite stretch stitch, all round the circle.


Stitch the band to the bra. here we are just getting to the crossover.  Line up the edges as you sew.

Next, fold up the band so that the edge of it just covers the stitching in the previous step.


Pin at halves, quarters, eighths, as you like, and top stitch the edge down.  Here I used my favorite foot, moved the needle to the left, and sewed all round with a 2 wide 2 long zig zag so that the edge is firmly sewed down.  This time I am using the other toe as my guide.  I really love this foot.  Here I sewed up to (but not over) the pins.   Go slowly, you are almost done!


Top stitching the band and sewing right up to a pin.

Pull out that last zig zag baste if you are planning to wear this for swim or want to show off either side.   If you feel like you need more support, or want a tighter band than just the fabric alone provides, thread some non-roll elastic through the opening we left in the band, try on, sew together, and hand stitch the opening closed.


Here is the band with the opening we made earlier. Easy to add elastic later if needed.


This color is really close to my  sun kissed shoulders (thank you garden) I could wear it to swim in public, and will be fantastic under my light colored Spoxxy!  The wicking nature of the fabric will make it comfortable to wear as either a bra or swim top.   I plan on making more that have different colored front and backs!  If your fabric needs a bit more recovery,  or you want more support, consider sandwiching power mesh or techsheen in between the layers.


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Fat Quarter Bags

Looking for a fun and useful project for my beginning sewing students, I found a bag similar to this online, and decided to create a set of instructions that allowed for creative fun and interfacing/batting options. Make some as part of a holiday gift, or party favor.  School colors for a lunch bag would be fun too!

Ingredients:                           Makes two

Two coordinating fat quarters, two yards coordinating ribbon or twill tape for handles, and 12 to 14 inches of narrow ribbon, button and 6.5 x 7.5 scrap for optional pocket.  Optional interfacing/fleece/insulbright 9 x 21 inch for each bag.

First, trim off those selvages (look for selvage projects and keep them in your stash for later).   Cut your fat quarters in half to make two rectangles that are 9 x 21 inches.  Fat quarters are  cut into 22 x 18 inch rectangles, and you will want to start with fabric that does not have an up and down direction.  Or do not mind if your people are all on their sides 🙂 What is most critical here is that your bag and bag lining are cut the same size as each other.

Choose an interior.  Add interfacing/fleece/insulbright to your bag.  They all have wonderful and different qualities that will help the ultimate purpose of your bag.  Want to keep a baby bottle (or your water bottle/lunch/snack)  cool or warm, choose insulbright, it is amazing. First time project, fusible fleece is a little easier to handle once it has been fused to your fabric.  Just a bag for books, a few diapers/wipes/change of clothes, makeup to take you into evening, perhaps a nice interfacing will do the trick.  Experiment and have fun with it!

Cut your interior. InsulBright the same size as one of your bag rectangles.  Any fusible can be cut 1/2 inch smaller, and centered before fusing.  This will eliminate bulk in the seams.

Mark the strap placement.  On the short ends of one rectangle, measure in 2 inches and mark that spot on both sides.  Then mark the center line on one end.  This is where your straps will go.

Optional pocket.  I was lucky to have a nice sized scrap of a coordinating fabric.  Start with a rectangle 6.5 x 7.5 inches.  Fold down the top 6.5 inch across edge 1/4 inch and again 3/4 inches and press, then top stitch on the edge. Then press in 1/4 inch on the remaining three sides.

Center the pocket on the body of the bag with the fusible, and top stitch a line on the very edge and another a presserfoot’s width inside of that one.  The two lines of stitching will keep the top from pulling out.

Optional double ribbon.  place one yard of ribbon against another yard of the same width of ribbon wrong sides t and edge stitch both long sides.  Makes for a sturdier strap.  Cut into two 18 inch lengths and pin two inches in from each side of the top of either end of the bag. Baste this with a 1/4 inch seam.

On the other side, add the 6-7 inch narrow ribbon to the center of the bag and baste across the raw edge.

Place the rights sides of the interfaced bag and the bag lining together and stitch across the side with the ribbon in the center with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. On the other side, stitch from the edge to just past the first strap, and then pivot and stitch off the edge of the bag making an “L” shaped seam.  Make a similar seam on the other side, starting from the edge, and coming into the bag to the 1/2 inch seam allowance and pivoting to finish off the seam.  This leaves a nice opening for turning the bag right side out later.

Open the bag so that the seams you just made are in the middle and the interfaced bag is on one side, and the lining on the other.  Pin the seams together so that one goes left and the other right, and the actual seam nestles into the other seam.

Box Bottom measure up from the bottom fold 1.25 inch and in from the raw edge on the side 1.75 inches on all four corners of the bag.  Clip these lines. This made my bag bottom 3×5 inches.  If you want a more slender but wider bag, try cutting out the bottom squares one inch from the bottom fold and side seam line instead of one and a quarter inches.

On either long side of the bag, make a seam with a 1/2 inch allowance.   Then on each corner, bring the bottom fold to meet the center of the seam, closing off the corners.

Make a seam to close this opening with a 1/4 inch allowance.  Your bag will look like this when you are done.

Turn the bag right side out.  Pull the bag lining through first.

Then the remainder of the bag.  Slip the interfaced part of the bag inside the lined part and edge stitch all the way around to fully close off the opening.  The “L” seam you made earlier makes this job go more smoothly.

Hand sew a button on to either  side opposite the area where the center ribbon is, so that you can close your bag.  Snaps would also be fun here too.  It is always a good idea to prewash, or use Color Catchers the first wash!

Now go forth and make the second bag.  They make great gifts!   Think small essentials bag.   Perhaps a project in progress bag.  Consider bags in different sizes.