Hi Everyone! I haven’t been around for awhile, but have been busy sewing! My daughter’s prom was last week – no I didn’t make the dress, but I hemmed it, all 24 feet of it! That’s right 24 feet of silk chiffon hand hemmed. It took me 4 days doing a quarter a day, but it got done and she looked beautiful! Sorry no pictures, I have a camera shy daughter! Above is a picture of the dress and here is a picture of the bottom and all those feet of hem!
I just didn’t trust the dress to my machine. I don’t have a narrow hemmer attachment and even if I did, I am just not sure I would trust my ability to hem straight and narrow on silk chiffon, especially given that it is my daughter’s prom dress. Perhaps if I had silk chiffon sitting in my stash and I could practice on something other than the prom dress, but alas, there is no fabric with that type of pedigree in my stash! Luckily, thanks to a wonderful class I took with the incomparable Cindy Foose, I knew all about the Toy Stitch. Cindy was a frequent contributer to Creative Needle magazine and teaches for the Smocking Arts Guild of America. According to the woman who taught Cindy the Toy Stitch, it is so named because French Doll Makers used it to sew narrow hems. It can be used on any type of thin fabric and gives a hand picked, rolled edge! I tried googling around and couldn’t find any information on this type of hem, but it worked great for the prom dress! So here goes!
The other great thing about this stitch is that there was no ironing and no pinning – both things I didn’t want to try with pleated silk chiffon! My needle is a sharps number 8 and I am using normal sewing thread in a shade to match the dress. (OK, looking at the pictures, that needle is awfully big for a number 8 sharps – it looks like my trusty number 7 darner! This may be more of an issue with other fabrics – anything went easily through the silk! the moral of the story – use whatever works easily for you!) I have threaded and knotted my thread and am folding the raw edge to the wrong side of the dress by 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch. Please note that I have a nice raw edge – no flyaways or stray threads. Begin by taking your needle straight up through the folded edge of the hem, burying your knot in the hem fold.
Insert your needle into the folded hem right next to where your needle came out at the hem edge before you went down to take the previous stitch in the body of the dress, and take a 1/8th to 1/4 inch bite in the fabric. Your thread is running in the fold of the hem. Keep your stitches loose. The thread should be vertical across the hem. Continue working your way along the hem for about 2 inches ending at the hem edge.
From the right side of the dress you get a beautifully hand picked look! This hem is very easy to do, gives a great finish and is perfect for tricky fabrics, or those you are just not comfortable trusting to a machine! Give it a try!