The Appleton Dress is a must-have for spring. Designed with curves in mind and with a neckband that actually stays closed, this dress is a dream to sew up and a dream to wear. Today, we welcome Appleton Dress designer Jenny Rushmore of Cashmerette for tips on hemming knits.
If you’re used to sewing with wovens, hemming knits can seem a little intimidating! But there are a few techniques you can use to make it a breeze.
First of all, “wonder tape” or “steam-a-seam” is your friend! “Wonder tape” is a double-sided tape that doesn’t gum up your needle when it’s sewn, and washes away when the garment is washed. You use it to stick your hem together first, making it easy to sew a hem without the fabric slipping. Alternatively, “steam-a-seam” is a double-sided fusible webbing, which you sandwich into your hem, and when it’s pressed it glues the two sides together in much the same way. Using these is much easier and more accurate than pins.
To use wonder tape, first peel off one side of the tape, and press the sticky side along the edge of your fabric.
Then, peel off the second side
Finally, press the hem down – you can pull it up and re-adjust until it’s perfect.
Second, although it’s totally possible to hem knits with a sewing machine and a zig-zag stitch, you can get even better results with a few extra tools. I recommend using a walking foot, if you have one. On a sewing machine, the little teeth underneath the needles (the feed dogs) push the fabric through the machine, but because the fabric is only pushed from the bottom this can stretch or distort it, especially in knits. A walking foot is an attachment that has feed dogs above the fabric as well as below, so it pushes your fabric through the machine evenly without bunching.
For a professional look on knit hems, typically a parallel set of stitches, there are two options. First, you can use a twin needle with a regular sewing machine. A twin needle is precisely that – two needles, with a single post at the top that inserts into your machine. Follow your machine’s instructions to set it up – you will be using the second thread spool holder (often on the back of your machine), and the two needles will sew those parallel lines with a zig-zag on the back. Second, you can use a coverstitch machine, which is how professionally-made clothes are hemmed. This is a special machine with two needles that quickly creates the parallel stitching.
Remember to press your knit hems at each stage, which will get a crisper look. But makes sure to test the temperature of your iron first, as if it’s too hot it can cause knits to “shine” and we don’t want that! Lowering the temperature and using a press cloth can help avoid that.
Now you’ll have a perfect hem and sleeves on your Appleton!
If you haven’t grabbed the pattern, do that now at shopsewitall.com. Check out week 1, on cutting knits, and week 2 on sewing the neckband for helpful tips and techniques on constructing this dress. We’re stocking only a limited supply of the pattern so if you arrive at shopsewitall.com and it’s not there, head to the Cashmerette shop to grab a paper or digital copy.