Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Kenneth King Hem

A recent visit to the Threads website had contributing editor and sewist extraordinaire, Kenneth King, offering a tutorial on how to hem a curved, lamé hem. First, lamé is the fabric from hell. But to sew a tiny hem on a curved piece of lamé is work only intended for the deepest depths of Hades. I was really intrigued with his technique and anxious to give it a try.  The Sand Dollar top gave me the perfect opportunity. I tweaked the process a teeny bit  but have to say it is brilliant.

I needed a tiny hem on the front skirt of this smocked top, per the directions from AS&E. I have a tute on the right for baby hems that has worked for me quite well, particularly with sheers but this method is so fast and easy. Here's how I did it on the Sand Dollar top:



The first thing you do is find the right stabilizer. He suggested adding machine tape or Solvy for sheers. What I used is a roll of paper stabilizer I bought at least 20 years ago that is thinner than adding machine tape and I felt it worked perfectly. I would love to be able to tell you exactly what it is but I haven't a clue. I just know that it is like manna from heaven in that I never run out. I have used miles of this stuff. Anyhoo, get your strips of stabilizer and line them up and pin them with a perfectly sharp edge on the garment fabric. This is a tweak. He sewed his first and then cut back the stabilizer. My hem was a straight line so I cut the garment edge fresh with the rotary cutter and then lined up the edge of the stabilizer and pinned. Now to the machine.



I adjusted the stitch length to 2.0. The smaller the stitch the easier to rip out the stabilizer. Then I put on my trusty edge stitching foot and clicked it 6 clicks to the left (Pfaff). I did a trial run on some stabilizer and you can see above the measurement is right at 1/8 inch. Gotta remember that. Six clicks is exactly one eighth!I stitched the hem  SLOWLY making sure the blade butted right up to the edge.

Next it was to the ironing board. I found it easier to make the next step happen if I first pressed the tiny seam toward the garment away from the paper. (Tweak) Now you roll the hem over so the tiny hem is tucked behind the rolled edge. Press flat like you see above.

   Back to the machine! Place the blade of your edge stitching foot in the ditch between the paper and the rolled hem. Click your  needle two clicks to right of center if you have a Pfaff. This will give you the specified 1/16th inch edge stitch. Now stitch the hem in this ditch, S L O W L Y. This is not rush time.
Back to the ironing board! Just press it all nice and flat on both sides. Lookin' good, heh? Now pull your paper stabilizer and watch it magically come off with no effort or fibers left behind, easy easy peasy.
Here is your hem on the wrong side.

 And here is your hem from the right side. Not too shabby,  huh?  I think it is slightly perfect if I may say so myself! But here's the best part:  Truth be told I put the hem in and forgot that I hadn't measured the skirt length yet. So this perfect little hem went in 3 1/2 inches beyond where it was needed. I cut my hem again and redid the whole process but for the heck of it I timed myself from start to finish. 11 minutes!!!! That's all it took to get this great little hem beautifully done on sixty inches, yup, of fabric. THIS IS FAST. I love it. I can't thank Mr. King enough for continually sharing his expertise with all of his adoring fans.  Check out his tute on the Threads site. We are so lucky to have him feeding our passion.....Bunny

35 comments:

  1. 11 minutes to perfection - fantastic!!!!!

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  2. Love this technique. Smooth and perfect! Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Beckie in Brentwood, TN

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  3. You're hem does look perfect, but I'm not understanding. Don't you end up with a tiny 1/8" strip of paper trapped in your hem? Maybe I'm missing something.

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  4. Yes, you sort of do. I find that's fine with me. King suggests if you don't like that to use the Solvy which is water soluble. Remember, There is 1/8 inch of paper in the first hem but you then sew a 1/16th inch hem on top so only 1/16th of an inch is left in the hem. You would never know it is in there.

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  5. That is one beautiful teeny weeny hem.

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  6. Thanks for replying. I guess that the tiny bit of paper probably provides a little support for the hem. That might be a plus for some fabrics.

    I'm about to start working on a blouse for my DD out of some silk georgette (guessing at the name - thin silk but not totally transparent - Italian silk bought on vacation from Mood in LA). I'm trying to figure out the best way to hem it. I wonder if this technique would work. I might try the Solvy because it is so thin that any paper might show.

    BTW, I do enjoy reading your blog!

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    1. Thanks, Becky and welcome aboard! Just do a couple of samples first to see how it works. If you are not pleased with the results try the Baby Hem tute you can find on the right of this blog. That has worked well for me with sheers.

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  7. KK is awesome - I have taken a couple of classes from him - and he is always entertaining and his techniques are great. Thanks for showing this one, Bunny!

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  8. I love it when you share tips and techniques. This looks great. 11 minutes is impressive.

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  9. that is a great way to doing such a narrow hem - I do find myself using my embroidery stabiliser for different things - I can now add this to the list thanks.

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  10. It's perfect! I'm a great fan of Kenneth King's book and tutorials. Like you I sometimes adapt a little thing to work for me, but his techniques in general are wonderful. I'll remember this one now I've seen your beautiful version.

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  11. Aw I love all your tips. Am just a beginner but I love coming across tips and saving them. They will help me so much in the future. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  12. Thanks for lovely tutorial.. It's now bookmarked for reference

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  13. Nice! I'll try this on my next shirt-tail hem. I agree--love that Kenneth King!

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  14. I recently had to shorten my dress by 3" for my daughter's wedding - there were 7 chiffon layers that had to be shortened! I saw this article and this was the method I used, and it was perfect! I did use ultra-solvy strips (leftover from making applique patches) and was concerned about removing the tiny bit left in the hem. The dress was "Dry Clean Only", and no matter of spraying with water was getting it out on my sample. Finally, I submerged the sample in water for 1/2 hour. It dissolved, and the hem was soft and supple. So, since the chiffon was polyester, I figured it would work on the dress. Once I finished all the hemming, I hung the dress on the shower rod over the tub and submerged all the ruffled parts I had just re-hemmed in water. I left it for 1/2 hour, rinsed it well, blotted it well in a big towel, and let it dry. Worked like a dream, and the dress was gorgeous! Since wearing it, I did send it to the dry cleaners. Just wanted to share! Still, I have to wonder, what amazon woman was this dress made for?!!! I'm 5'6", not exactly short, so what the heck?!!!

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    1. Thanks for your validation of the process, Shane. Brilliant dipping just the hem in the tub!

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    2. I thought so too Bunny ~ I tried the process with regular Solvy and it just didn't have enough body with flimsy chiffon. Ultra Solvey has plenty of body, and it worked!!! Great technique. Loved your tutorial too, thank you!

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  15. Thanks for reminding us about another of Kenneth's tips. He really does have a lot of great tips. The garment looks perfect as usual!

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  16. That's a great tip. I'll have to make a sample up so that I can remember it when I need it!

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  17. Thanks for the tip--no more burning my fingers and getting a wobbly hem! I think your paper stabilizer would be Stitch and Ditch? I got a roll of it at a Martha Pullen school several years ago. I haven't used it a lot, but I think this will be my go-to trick for TINY hems!

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    1. That's It! I bought it so long ago when stabilizers first started coming out for machine embroidery. Thanks, thimblegirl.

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  18. KK is awesome and your pictures are too. This beats the hec out of the 2mm rolled hem foot!! I'm gonna try this on some bridal satin... today! So with the sheers, would you use the disolving type of stabilizer? ~LunaLoo

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  19. Great Tip, Bunny. Thanks. You're site is a great reference tool. Keep up the great work.

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  20. Great Tip, Bunny. Thanks. You're site is a great reference tool. Keep up the great work.

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  21. Hi there Bunny

    Popped in and have spent the last hour or so, revisiting your threads.
    Love this latest tutorial, perfect pictures and outcome as always. You are a Master too you know!! You forgot to mention yourself, along with Schaeffer, Khalje and King..............So drum roll for La Sewista........

    Off topic, your buttonholes on your chanel jacket are wonderful. Hope I can get mine to look as good. Have followed tips from a guy called Jeffery Diduch. I wonder if you would have the time to share your hints and tips with us Bunny?? Now that would be a fabulous tutorial if you had the time.

    Thanks as always for your generosity in sharing.

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    1. We've spoken many times since your post, Marysia, as you know. I just didn't want anyone to think I ignored you. I've been following your progress on the Artisan Square forum. Very interesting.

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  22. I just stumbled upon this and WOW!!! I can think of several applications for this. Thanks so much for sharing and demonstrating this Bunny. Great tute as always!

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  23. GreaT TIP ! I will definitely try this . :D
    http://etheea.wordpress.com/

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  24. Stumbled onto this blog page, great tip. I have a roll of thin paper stabilizer called STITCH & DITCH, have had it for years. It may be the same product you are using, a roll lasts a very long time.

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  25. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am new to sewing so every little bit helps.

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  26. Welcome to this wonderful art, Brandi. Please visit often. I hope my tutes can help you a bit. I love encouraging new sewists.

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  27. This so wonderful - I have been making doll clothes for my little ones and this will help so much to make a nice neat tiny hem -
    Thank you so much

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