Narrow Hemmer

I never successfully mastered narrower hemmers and folders.  Even though every one said “just keep practicing”.  My imperfect practice seemed to reinforce imperfect results rather than improve. I avoided the narrower hemmers. Created my own procedures (this was before the internet) for creating narrow hems and eventually settled into favorite hem widths and procedures.  My narrow hem procedures were blown away with my first serger.  After my first practice, I swore I’d never again narrow hem at the sewing machine. But that has changed. Age and new machines have changed my mind.  Don’t get me wrong. I still love my serger’s narrow and rolled hems.  But I don’t always want a thread wrapped hem. Plus this serger has so many setting that I have to get our the book every time to set it up AND I need the book again to make sure I’ve reset everything.  Even then, I may not have reinserted the needle exactly right; or could have a defective needle. Either way it will be several seams after a serger narrow-hem before I’ve got everything once again working correctly for the standard 4-thread seam.  The seam I use the most. The seam I use the serger for  nearly all the time will be messed up for several seams after I make a rolled hem.  I decided to give narrow hems at the sewing machine one more try.  Not too terribly confident of the outcome, I bought the foot above at rather than buying a very similar but pricey foot from my dealer. Frankly, I was afraid I would use the foot once for a few minutes and regret the lost $40. (Foot above was $9.99).

Then I queried my friends at Stitchers Guild for their favorite You-Tubes and advice. I spent some time watching You Tubes and did indeed surf to the various links to view pictures as well. Armed with this new knowledge, I selected a thin rayon crepe from the scraps pile for testing.  It was incredible:

From the first pass, the narrow hemmer worked perfectly.  I cut curved and straight samples to run through the hemmer. It was amazing. So amazing I decided to try it on an actual project, my cowl-collared top from a few weeks ago:

What a disaster:

OK doesn’t compare with Katrina. In fact you may not be able to see all the pokies and edges that folded out instead of inside. I rescued my blouse with generous applications of Frey Chek and my duck-billed scissors

The Frey Chek makes sure the hem won’t unroll or further ravel. The scissors trimmed away the existing pokies and fraying.

Even though I was able to recover, I was angry. Why did the rolled hem work perfectly with one of the worst fabrics on earth to deal with?  Rayon crepe crawls, creep travels, unravels  Many curse words have been directed at such fabrics. Why did it work now and work beautifully through the hemmer?  Both fabrics are about the same weight. Both are excellent quality blouse fabrics.  I think the difference is I expected the crepe would be the devil to work with and before even laying it out for cutting, I soaked it (every square inch of it) in half strength starch.  That’s a technique I was introduced to several years ago when I decided I either had to find a way to sew with crepe fabrics or I needed to get them out of my life. Hey, I can do that every time I want a narrow hem. In fact, I could paint just the hem area with starch when I’m working on a more cooperative fabric like my blouse above.

I don’t use very narrow hems that often.  For one thing they require the setting up the serger and then returning the settings to normal. Sigh, and with me that means probably 3 or 4 days before I figure out which setting is not set right (and being off only a little can make a big difference.) But fresh from my somewhat successful venture, I decided to purchase these:


also available at  I do and would use hems of these widths especially for blouses.   Stay tuned, I’ll be reporting on them too.


4 thoughts on “Narrow Hemmer

  1. I have been afraid to try the hemmers on my sew machines (Janome) & serger. (Baby Lock) You have given me the courage to try. Also I will be using more spray starch! Is there a particular brand of spray starch you like?

    1. Janet
      I buy the big bottle of liquid starch at Walmart. I started buying it by the gallon when I realized this was my solution to creeping crawling difficult fabrics. I keep a spray bottle just for starch and refill from the big bottle (dilute with water 50/50) as needed.

      I tried for years and failed with hemmer feet. For the last machine, my Ruby, I didn’t even buy them until now. Watching the You tubes was very helpful.

      Good Luck. You can do this.

  2. OK, thanks! I have not tried the hemmers yet. I had some Faultless brand spray starch here. I used it yesterday on a poly-knit stretch fabric for lounge pants. I loved the result! I’ll try the WMT liquid starch @ 25-35% soon.

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