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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sewing and hemming knits Exhibit G

Well folks this started out as seven posts on hemming knits and so that makes this one the last of this series and, as a summarizing post, one that will be more illustrated than previous posts.

I have thought about this all day and decided that if there are a few points I wanted to make in this last post it is that there:

1. Is no best way, no universal solution, to hemming all knits.

As a genre, if you can call them that, of fabrics knits cover a lot of territory. What fiber they are made of, how they are made - single knit, interlock, and double knits like ponte for instance, all produce fabrics of different hands and different degrees of stretchability, and will require different tactics to get the result you want. Even if you own a cover hem for example there will be times when a twin needle, a zig zag, or a hand hem might be a better strategy.

2. With this in mind it seems to me that the best approach is to build up sort of a vocabulary of techniques and pull them out as the occasion calls for - even using several different strategies in the same garment.

So to sum up here are a few of the things I have made recently with some explanations of how I hemmed them with comments.

Time for some show not tell I think.

Exhibit G.1

Here is a sort of twin set I made from two weird but matching knits I picked up by the side of the road in some Joann's somewhere. They are both fairly see through and loose but I like them, the nubbly sweater knit and the smoother jersey.

The patterns I used where Sewaholic's Renfrew top made without sleeves as a shell and lengthened with the pattern rotated out a bit from the bottom of the armhole to make it a bit more A line. For the cardigan I used Jalie's Drop Pocket cardigan.

It is hard to see all the hemming techniques I used here, and this garment looks better on than drooping on the back of a door (too much ground to cover tonight for me to organize a photos shoot I am afraid), but here is the list:


The fronts are doubled as per pattern so there are not any hems there. Due to the fineness of the fabric I doubled the hem at the sleeves and top stitched them down because I wanted the hem there to be durable.

For the back of the cardigan, the only area that needed a proper hem, I turned and topstitched to finish the edge (this fabric unravelled too much for serging to look neat I thought) and I hand hemmed it with a catch stitch, that lovely crisscross herringbone stitch that is the only common hand hemming stitch that is also stretchy.

Here is that hem from the wrong side:

And the right side:


This was a bit of a problem as the fabric turned out to be far more sheer than I expected. To cope with this I cut the back single and lettuce edge stitched the raw edge (setting the serger up for a 3 thread rolled hem and stretching the fabric as I serged.

The front I cut double (I really wanted more coverage there) and lettuce hemmed each piece before joining them at the side seams. You can see the front and back hems here:

Exhibit G.2

 Using the same dropped hem cardigan and shell pattern I made another twin set in green:

The green was a supposed rayon knit from an online seller but I have my doubts- seemed very ITY when I worked with it, high thread count and tight. I do love the colour though. However for some reason my brain took a stroll when I cut out and after cutting out what I thought were all the cardigan pieces I had so much left over I thought that I made the shell.

The trouble with this bit of luck of course is that the only reason I had that amount left over is that I forgot the fronts in this cardigan are cut double (four front pieces in all) which left me scrambling for a "design solution." That solution ended up being two of front pieces cut out in navy.

I actually really like how this looks ( I would be that creative only because of necessity not intent) and with a navy straight skirt I have I figure I look beyond sharp in this.

Anyway back to technique.

Because in this case I was dealing with a tight smooth knit I used a band for the neckline of the shell:

And I turned and topstitched the armholes:

 And cover hemmed the bottom of the shell and back of cardigan with a narrow cover hem:

When I turned and cover stitched the armholes, again with the narrow cover hem like the bottom hem I felt I was matching scale of the parallel rows of stitching to the scale of the fabric. You can see I think above how little tunnelling there is here with this narrow cover hem. I turned and hand basted the hem allowance up before stitching.

*** Editorial note: I had intended tonight to show you a few more garments but it appears that I have reached my photo limit for Blogger for one post. so this last one will have to be continued tomorrow.

That can be our bonus post I guess, and will focus on a few garments with the wider cover hems.

Talk again tomorrow.


Marianne said...

Now that's a happy accident! Your green twin set looks awesome!

Dorothy DotDot said...

Each of your items are beautiful. I like the addition to the green cardigan.

shannon church said...

I just finished making this cardigan yesterday and I love it! My finishing techniques aren't too sophisticated on this one because it's my wearable muslin and I didn't feel like threading my cover stitch. (I also got tripped up on a few of the directions and had to hem the whole bottom including the front pieces). I plan to make another one though with better hemming!

Wendy said...

Boy that's a great looking band!