Lettuce Hem and Invisible Lock Stitch Hem

Everyone needs a reliable hand stitch for hemming.  This is the one I use the most.  It is resilient, as it is a catch stitch so each stitch is locked into place and it has the added bonus of being virtually invisible from the front of the garment.

To make the stitches in this hem as hidden as possible you need to remember three things:

  • Match your thread to your fabric.
  • Only pick up one or two threads with your needle.
  • Make sure your needle is parallel with the fabric grain.  This ensures your thread is laying next to the thickest thread in the weave of the fabric, which will disguise it.

First, either finish the raw edge, fold and press the hem or, as I do, double fold and press the hem.  Finishing and folding the hem once will produce a more inconspicuous hem.  However, I still prefer to not have any visible stitches if possible and I like a hem to have a good weight.  Then fold the hem back so that you can just see the edge and pin in place.

Working from left to right, attach your thread to the hem allowance, then take a smallish stitch from the hem allowance to the right of this.  Start to pull the thread through, catching the thread as you do so.  Then repeat to the right of that stitch.  As an experiment I did the first half of my hem in a matching cream thread and the second half in a bright red to stand out.

When the fabric was turned to the right side, I could not see the cream stitches at all and I could just make out one of the red ones, and on the reverse of the fabric the stitches are completely hidden.  This really is my favourite hemming technique.

CIMG2190   CIMG2192

The machine stitched hem I have chosen this week is the lettuce hem.   This is really just an excuse to play around with this hem as I have been dying to use this technique for years but haven’t had a reason.  It would be useful for a very full fifties style skirt or underskirt, or a child’s party dress or a fancy dress outfit.  I am demonstrating two versions.  The first one is the fun one using fishing line.  (Yes, actual fishing line from an angling shop.)  The second version has been done accidentally a million times while machine rolling a hem using delicate or slightly stretchy fabric!

Fold a small hem over some fishing wire and using a zigzag stitch sew over the edge of the fabric sandwiching the fishing wire.  I’ve found the way that works best for me is to hold the threads fairly taught at the back.  Trim away the excess hem (a bit more carefully than I have done) et voila, a super curly hem.

The second one is basically the same technique without the fishing wire, but you need to make sure you hold onto those threads and keep them very taught, exactly what I said not to do in my stretch fabric post as it causes any delicate, knit or stretch fabric to stretch and pucker.  In this instance that is the look we’re going for.  It produces a much more subtle, delicate effect than the fishing wire lettuce hem, suitable for an evening dress or nightie.

Next week I will be revealing the results of the solar dying!