Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Presser Foot Series: Blind Hem Foot

Welcome to day two of the Presser Foot Series! Today we're going to learn about the blind hem foot.

This post is going up crazy late in the day/evening, but if you had seen the renegade marshmallow fluff overrunning my house today you would understand.

So, what's a blind hem foot do? It sews blind hems of course! But what's a blind hem? Well, have you ever noticed that on dress slacks and skirts, as well as a lot of curtains, there is a definite hem, but there doesn't seem to be a line of stitching as a result of that hem? Like these sweet curtains at Target I kind of want for our bedroom.

That, my friends, is a blind hem. I had to master this stitch a few weeks ago. I do some light hemming/altering work when the opportunity arises, and a lady at church hired me to hem 5 pairs of dress pants for her daughter. Once you learn how to do it, it's easy-peasy!

I decided that for today's tutorial I would make a quick and easy skirt for Lily. I found this fun orange and white polka dot fabric as a remnant at Hobby Lobby a few months ago. I did a couple of small projects with it and had just enough solid yardage left for the skirt. I think my measurements on it ended up being two pieces cut 22 x 15ish.

 This isn't a skirt tutorial really, so the details of the rest of the skirt construction are going to be quick. Stack your rectangles right sides together and sew up the sides with a straight stitch. Zigzag stitch or otherwise finish the seams.

To create the casing for your elastic, turn the top edge down 1/2 inch and iron in place.

Then turn down another inch and iron in place again. I find that a piece of cardstock marked with lines at 1/4 inch intervals is much easier for me to use than a sliding seam gauge.

We're going to go ahead and sew the casing to keep the folds in place while we hem the skirt, but we won't add the elastic till the end. First, topstitch 1/4 inch from the very top. I always do this on skirts because it makes the elastic stand up better and I think looks much more professional. This line of stitching will go all the way around.

Once that's done, stitch a line 1/4 inch from the bottom of your casing, making sure to leave about 1-2 inches open to feed the elastic into. Backstitch at the beginning and end.

Now for the blind hem! Start by folding your bottom edge up about 1/2 inch and iron in place. You can baste this in place if you'd like. The stitching will be hidden later.

Now fold the bottom edge up again, this time to the length that you want your finished hem to be. I think Lily's total length ended up right at 12 inches.

Now for the slightly tricky part. But don't worry, you can do it! Fold the edge the you just folded up, back toward the bottom of the skirt, far enough that about a 1/4 inch of it peeks out past the bottom of the skirt. It's easier to explain in pictures. I took several to try to give you a good angle on it.

Now, if you've not already done so, switch to your blind hem foot. The blind hem foot has a blade that runs right down the middle. This is the guide for where you will want to place the edge of the wrong side out fold , the fold closer to the top of the skirt. The fold that's peeking out needs to lay on the right side of the blade.

Make sure you have your machine set to your blind hem stitch. It will be the one that looks like this. Make sure you are choosing the one with the points facing this way and not the other way. If the points face the other way it's an overcasting stitch and will not work here.

Now for the magic. Click the next picture to make it larger if you need to. The arrow is pointing to a little notch in the foot. That's where the peaks of your stitch are going to land and catch the inside fabric of the skirt. As you sew, you want to go slowly and make sure you're keeping the fold right against the blade so that the top of those stitches is catching the fabric. If it isn't catching, you may need to adjust your needle slightly to the left.

Now here's where I somehow lost my mind and didn't get a picture of the finished stitch. Um yeah. And by the time I realized it Lily had gleefully confiscated the skirt and was off playing in it. BUT, I had already planned to do the stitch using black thread on scrap fabric so you could see it better, so here's that picture. See how it just barely catches the edge of the fold?

Also, this may help you to better see how the fold goes.

Anyway, here's how the outside of the hem looks when you're finished. See how clean it is?

Here, let's go in close and hit it with the flash. There's the stitching! If you had a solid color fabric and matching thread it would be pretty much invisible.

Now a quick tip. If those tiny stitches are showing up a lot bigger/longer, you're grabbing too much of the fold with the top of your stitch. Try adjusting your needle a little to the right in that situation.

Now to add the elastic and finish up the skirt. I'm going to show you my very favorite crafty thrift store find ever. I got this huge spool of 1/2 inch elastic for $4.99! Best purchase ever! I don't know how much was on there when it was new, but I've made over 30 skirts with it, and I've barely dented what was there when I bought it. However much a gross of elastic is, it's a lot!

The price tag says $11.00, but that was there prior to the thrift store apparently.

Lily's waist measures 21 inches. I cut exactly that and overlap by about an inch when I sew it together. Grab your handy dandy elastic threader and feed the end of your elastic through the slots.

Then feed it into your casing.

Just keep working it through. I LOVE how effortlessly this tool keeps my elastic from twisting!

You may want to pin your other end to the skirt to keep it from getting pulled through.

When you get the elastic threader all the way through, pull the ends together, then overlap about an inch and zigzag stitch back and forth a couple of time over the ends.

Stretch the waistband of the skirt until the sewn elastic seats itself in the casing and sew your casing closed. Don't forget to switch back to a straight stitch first!

And here we are all finished!

And now that you know how to do a blind hem stitch, your blind hem foot can enjoy regular rotation on your machine!


  1. I have sewed over forty years and this was the first I have ever really understood how to do this stitch, Thank you for the great instructions.