Sometimes, you need to hem something so it won’t show through from the front. In a perfect world, you’re working with two layers of fabric. But what happens if, oh, I dunno, you’ve got yourself a crazy corset that’s mostly lined, except for the gussets? Then you need to know how to blind-hem with only a single layer of fabric.
Sometimes, you just want to finish an edge really really fast – you don’t care if it looks pretty up close. (Like, say, you’re working on a show where everyone seems to wear a veil that the audience can see through, but the characters mysteriously cannot… Not that that ever happens.) The zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine is the poor man’s serger…
Yes, I said perfect. I’ve made a lot of turned hems over the years. The official Right Way To Do It(tm) involves ironing. While that’s a great habit in sewing, it takes time and it’s a little risky when you have two cats in the room. I forget where I stumbled upon this technique, but it works like a charm even for those of us who suffer from advanced iron-itis.
“Stay Stitch inside the seam allowance” is a fairly common instruction in patterns. Generally, stay stitching is used to make certain that the fabric of a garment will not stretch out during the sewing process. It’s also a dandy cheater hem, which will fray (but only so far – it’s a controlled fray). Sometimes, that’s exactly the look you want.
The “selvedge” (not “salvage”, which is what I always thought my mother was saying) edge of the fabric is created as the fabric is woven on the loom, as the weft is taken back and forth. It’s a completely finished edge. Wise use of selvedge edges can make your costuming life much easier, but you need to know when you can and can’t use it.
The machine rolled hem is, of course, completely not period before the advent of sewing machines and special task machine feet. But it’s neat, it’s quick once you get the hang of it, and it’s a fantastic way to finish simple linens.
This technique produces a lovely hem – fully finished, and with a decorative ribbon right at the edge.