I loath hemming. Hate it. And I’ll tell this to anyone who’s willing to listen.
So when it dawned on me that in going ahead with my birthday dress (a copy-cat of this Eva Franco lovely) I’d just committed to sewing a full circle skirt, in a super slippery and lightweight fabric – well people, to use a well-loved euphemism – I practically choked on my weet-bix.
Practise runs with scrap fabric left me with a wavy edge that pressing just couldn’t fix, time and time again. That curved skirt with its hem on some form of bias 99.9% of the time needed stabilising, pronto!!
A quick internet search and I found this tip by a fellow Burdastyler. I don’t know if they ‘invented’ it per se, but hey, this is the internet – not a dissertation. I bought a strip of Belt Backing (not the fusible kind) from Clegs that is made of some kind of polymer, is quite stiff and if you look closely below – has a woven mesh/matrix configuration.
Fellow Melburnians – you can pick some of this up at Clegs, and it’s $2.85 for a meter. Frustratingly, I couldn’t get this in a longer length, so I was forced to sew in sections. I will be keeping a keen eye out for something similar that I can buy by the meter in future though!
The best thing is – its pretty easy to use and it makes hemming 6 meters of curved fabric a really quick thing to do. I’m using a scrap of fabric cut on the curve so you can see just how well this works.
1. Firstly I needed to chop off the edge where all the fibres are fused together so we can get to the good stuff:
2. Then I grabbed my quick-unpick and pulled off the bottom few fibres from the Belt Backing. How many you pull off (ie, the length of the exposed fronds) will determine the depth of your hem, from the stitch line to the fabric fold line you’ll see on the right side of the fabric.
Once you’ve dislodged the ends of a few of those fibres, I found I could just pull them out. I ended up taking off about 5 of them, giving me just under 0.5cm to play with.
3. Line your Belt Backing up with the fabric’s edge, right side up. I’ve allowed the standard 1.5cm seam allowance here, and I want the first fibre parallel to the edge to be about 1cm away. Sew along as close to the mesh as you can – ensuring your machine’s needle doesn’t stray across into the unpicked area of the belt interfacing. It won’t be fun if you let that happen.
The little teeth you exposed by unpicking a few of the fibres are quite strong (they’re plastic) and even though I was using a micro needle (the kind for tightly woven fabrics) it never got stuck.
3. Carefully, making sure you don’t dislodge the teeth from your fabric, trim the fabric up really close to the teeth. The benefit of having a curved edge here comes into play – I don’t really need to worry about it fraying!
4. Sewing back the way you just came, turn the belt backing over so all your fabric is on the left side (and the wrong side is facing up). The belt backing is providing support for your fabric so it doesn’t get sucked down into the fiery depths of feed-dog hell, and holding your hem fold in place, all at the same time. Sew down the middle of your exposed belt backing teeth.
5. This part is important – pulling willy nilly could potentially stretch out your bias and make it ruin all the work you’ve just done. I found that out the hard way. So gently, holding the fabric and belt backing with your hands parallel to one another, pull the belt interfacing out of your hem.
6. It may still look a slightly rippled in some places, but once you’ve pressed the hem flat, this disappears.
And now you have a perfectly smooth, unstretched, impossibly small hem. Woot.