Hand-Stitching Details

I’ve just completed an enjoyable evening of hand-hemming and finishing a skirt alteration for a barter situation for a dear friend.  It occurs to me to share some details regarding hemming and hook stitching that I’ve worked out for myself over my 50+ years of sewing.

Less is Best for Hand Hemming

Note in the photo below that

  1.  There is no ‘hem tape’, or ‘lace tape’, nor even serging on this woven tropical weight wool 4 gore skirt hem edge. Instead, I stitched 1/4″ from a pinked edge with both hands in front – allowing for a slight ‘gather’ as I stitched.  For me on my Pfaff with Integrated Dual Feed system, that meant NOT engaging the top ‘feed’.  On machines without that feature, instead of the left hand in back, right hand in front to create a TAUT fabric feed – as I feel one should ALWAYS be doing….in this case, just keep both hands in front as you stitch.  I used a 3.5 stitch length.
  2. As a ‘rightie’, I’m working the stitch from left to right, but my needle is going in from right to left.  I’m also working this Tailor’s Catch Hem BETWEEN the layers, NOT over the edge.  Also, when stitching into the skirt itself, I pick up just 1 single thread.  When stitching into the hem allowance, I take a larger stitch.
Tailor's Catch Hem

Tailor’s Catch Hem

I have a YouTube Video showing my technique as well…

A few other hints:

  1.  Expect polyester thread to ‘kink’.  Cotton thread would be easier to work with.  Silk thread would be amazingly joyful to work with!
  2.  Every 5″ or so, knot the thread by making a loop and passing the needle through the loop.  That will stop the hem from ripping out, should it get ‘caught’.
  3. Do NOT pull your stitches tight, but rather leave them somewhat loose.

That’s it – not the very prettiest from the inside, but IMHO, definitely the least visible from the outside, and that’s always been my goal.

When Stitching on a Pant Hook

Be sure to not only stitch through the hook and the inside layer, but ALSO a few times, stitch completely through the entire waistband.  Poke the needle all the way through, then back to the wrong side just a thread or so away.  See photo below. If you don’t do this, the inside of the band will pull with stress, and it will NOT be a pretty situation.  I always use a doubled thread to sew on closures.  When ending, don’t tie a knot and cut, but tie a knot, then feed the needle in between layers, poke out and cut the thread.

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