how to: hem facings

I designed a skirt a few years ago, a skirt some of you may remember. It was long and sequined and ladylike and magnificent. I always sold the samples in a big sample sale, but I’ve always wanted one. Last month, I decided that with two tulle skirts in my closet and plenty of new dresses finished and ready to wear it was time to make this skirt for myself. I can’t wait to show you the finished product soon, but what connects my new sparkly skirt and this post is the fact that I put a hem facing in it. Hem facings are one of my favorite things, and I realized that I do them quite frequently, and for various reasons.

Hem facings are just another way to finish a hem. They are simple and easy to do, and they give the garment a very professional and clean finish. Think of hem facings just like you would any other facing–it’s simply a copy of the hem in a width of your choosing. Let’s go through some examples, starting with a garment with a shaped hem. You can sew a narrow hem on a shaped hem, but depending on your fabric they can roll or stretch and look a little blah. For a shaped hem like this, a hem facing is a nice detail that looks neat, and it’s also easier to sew.

This is a dress I made over the summer, and the fabric is a washed linen I got in Amsterdam last March. Linen makes a wonderful hem facing because it’s so easy to work with and because it presses so well. This hem facing is about 3″ wide, and I included 1/4″ to turn under and stitch in place. If you look closely you can see the row of stitching on the right side of the garment.

This is what my pattern pieces looked like. All I did was trace the bottom of the hem about 3″.

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a trio: vogue 8825

I had other plans for the blog today, and they had nothing to do with this dress. I had no idea I would love the two new ones enough to dedicate a post to them, but here we are. I should have known better! You may remember the first one I made a few weeks ago. It was a project I’d put aside for over a year and also my first dive into making knit garments since my college days. I knew when I made it that I wanted to do it again, and I had this gorgeous creamy rayon knit with delicate gold sequins that I knew would be perfect. It had been in my fabric stash for about three years, just waiting for the right project to come along. I found it at JoAnn back in 2013 on the sale rack, which is usually packed with cheap, icky fabrics. Every once in a while you can find something special there though, hiding behind the nasty polyester, and that’s what this is. I love the fact that the gold sequins are subtle enough to make this dress appropriate for more than just holiday parties too.

Many of you know that navy blue is my favorite color. It’s hard for me not to make just about everything in navy, and this dress is no exception. It’s so flattering and comfortable, and I feel like a million bucks in it. I actually made this dress in navy on a whim once I discovered this ponte knit, which is also from JoAnn. I noticed this fabric a few weeks ago when I was there for supplies, and apparently it’s a new and improved ponte knit that won’t pill. I usually steer clear of knits with polyester in them for that very reason–they tend to pill and look inexpensive and gross after just a couple rounds in the washing machine. This particular ponte is a blend of rayon, nylon, and spandex, and it feels absolutely incredible. Nice stretch and recovery, and it’s smooth and soft. I used a coupon on it, but the $17 price tag is probably worth it. I’m not sure if it comes in any other colors but if you see it in burgundy, let me know!

I can add a few notes about this pattern now that I’ve sewn it in three different types of knits. The first is obvious: the more lightweight the knit (as is the case with the cream sequin fabric), the closer it will fit to your body. It may mean you can size down, which I could have done, but it doesn’t look terribly big so I’m not too worried about it. The more stable and substantial the knit, like the grey and navy, the easier it will be to sew and work with. The part of this dress that requires the most patience is attaching the cuffs, which I inadvertently stretched a bit on the cream dress. Also, the pattern instructs you to double stitch the cuff/sleeve seam, trim, and press the seam allowance up into the sleeve, but I wanted that hidden so I pressed it down into the cuff and stitched it closed. Nice and neat.

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rock the vote

It’s a chilly and rainy Saturday here which, I must admit, is a nice change from the unusually warm temperatures we’ve had recently. Even for Texas, things have been a bit too warm for too long. I’ve been in short sleeves for weeks! All of this to say I have a lengthy list of things I’m excited to work on, and this weather will make for a productive, cozy weekend inside.

Days like today are one of my favorite things. Having big blocks of time to spend in my studio where I can be creative is not only stimulating and rewarding, it’s also relaxing and comforting. In college, I spent many a long night in the sewing studio on campus, among my fellow students, sewing and sketching and problem solving and creating and . . . dreaming. To this day, the time I spent learning everything I could about what was quickly becoming my biggest passion alongside people who became lifelong friends is one of my most cherished memories. I remember the satisfaction that came from learning something new or using critical thinking skills to solve a tough patternmaking issue or seeing a concept come to life. The colors, the fabrics, the inspiration. Mostly, though, I see the image of us all sitting at our workstations, the low hum of our machines filling the room, the smell of coffee (there was always coffee) wafting around, the laughter, the shared goal of making it all happen and meeting the deadline.

My parents gave me a Brother sewing machine for Christmas one year when I was 12 or 13, and until I really got into fashion full steam I sewed on that machine on and off for a few years, getting the basics down. In college, our lab was equipped with Husqvarna Viking sewing machines, which wasn’t a brand I was familiar with or had ever used. It didn’t take too long to see how truly wonderful these machines are. After saving up, I bought one for myself and I have used it steadily for years, sewing everything you can imagine on it. That machine has been a constant companion, a reliable tool, an essential part of the design process.

Recently, the folks at Husqvarna announced a contest where one winner will get a brand new Designer Epic sewing machine, which is the most innovative and technologically advanced machine on the market. Naturally, I’ve loved it since it came out. The only thing this machine can’t do is make coffee. It’s magnificent. I submitted my entry yesterday, and now I need your help. The winner is determined by popular vote, so this is a call to rock the vote. And hey, while you’re at it, submit an entry! If videos aren’t your thing but you’re still in the market for a new machine, check out the product lineup. I know you won’t be disappointed if you invest in one of these machines. They’re magical, they really are.

I spent a few days really thinking about what to say on camera, and it was fun to shoot this video, even if it did take a few tries to get it right. Or maybe my perfectionist tendencies kicked in! Either way, it inspired me to jump into more video tutorials. It is quite alarming to hear your voice on camera though, I will say that. It’s wild!

To get right to the voting page, go here. (You’ll have to click on the “vote” tab.)

Thank you all in advance for your support. I appreciate it very much!

Happy Sewing!