April 4, 2016 by New Capel Street: Fabric Division
Hidelly-ho, larperinos! We’re nearly there! Today, we’re going to do a quick and dirty run through hemming your tunic. The hem is probably my favourite stage of most sewing projects. I love doing them by hand, trying to make them as invisible as possible, and inevitably taking so long at them that I’m 90% caught up on Welcome To Night Vale by the time I’m done with one bleedin’ skirt.
However, it’s the week of a LARP event, and that means sewing deadlines. No, I’m not going, but if you’re going to make your own kit you will need to accept that procrastination and finishing at the last possible moment IS inevitable. What that also means is doing the simplest, quickest hem I know how.
To start, like we discussed last time, you should hang your tunic for at least a few days before hemming. This allows any stretch in the raw edges that are lying on a diagonal to…well, stretch out. Also means that when you even out the lower edges into a pleasing straight shape, they stay even.
Start with the side split, if you’ve bothered to do one. You’ll have the whole seam allowance left, if you didn’t trim it off when you finished your seams. Crack out the ironing board, and grab your pins.
The first step is to re-press the seam allowance down. Then you simply fold the raw edge back under so it more or less touches the inside of the first fold. Do this on both ‘legs’ of the split. Pin the folded fabric down.
I don’t know if you can see, but the pins on each leg should face in opposite directions. We’re going to sew the hem as one continuous line, and setting it up so you don’t shank yourself in the knuckle when you round the corner is Big And Fucking Clever. Ask my knuckles how I know. Once you get to the split, stitch carefully to the seamline, and stop with your needle in.
Lift your presser foot, and rotate your garment so that the unstitched hem is all lined up and ready to go. Stitch to the end and clip off your threads. Repeat on the other side!
Your bottom hem is a piece of cake. Check to see if you have any unravelled or frayed threads hanging out. You probably will. Trim them off, and if the lower edge needs to be evened up, do it carefully. Then simply press up the end, tuck it in, and stitch. Press up by an inch or two, rather than the comparatively tiny seam allowance.
Now, I have a terrible confession to make. I took a shortcut on the sleeves. I didn’t bother heating up the iron to press up my sleeves. Trim off any uneven bits, then turn them up like a cuff. Do as I say, not as I do, and press the sleeve ends. Then tuck em in, pin if you need to. If your sewing machine has a removable bit (like the toolbox) to make the sewing ‘table’ smaller, now’s the time to crack that off. Fit your sleeve around the smaller surface, and stitch. Take your time, this is fiddly and if you rush it you may end up with puckering or distortion.
Collar’s next! This is pretty easy – if you roll and pin your edges before you iron. You will probably find some resistance at the curved parts. Clip in to the edge a little, and that’ll ease the slack. Press carefully, then stitch. Then press again!
And…unless you’ve decided to add trim of some kind, that’s it!!! Try it on, and, even if it’s not perfect, it’s something you’ve made. Full disclosure: I tried mine on. It fit – mostly. Turns out I’d forgotten that my waist widens out to my hips really fast – like, we’re nearly talking a 90 degree angle here, and I hadn’t flared my pattern out early enough. But, by folding up the tunic so it looked like a false waist seam, totally fine. Also, I’d be wearing a belt on top of it so who’s to know? (Other than everyone who’s just read it on the internet).
As always, if any questions or anything you’re unsure of, let me know! What should I do next? A coat/jacket/overthing?
**EDITED TO ADD: Here is a very useful link that if I’d known about, would have helped me to avoid the hip issue. This is a underwear website, which means they know their shit on getting precise body measurements. How to take your Full Hip Measurement