Wednesday, September 7, 2011

how to : sew a baby hem

One of the benefits of an internship (one of the million benefits, I should say) is learning amazing techniques you may not otherwise stumble upon elsewhere.  Today I learned a method of sewing a baby hem (or a narrow rolled hem, used for hemming chiffon and very delicate fabric) from Sam and the Row's amazing tailor, Ivan.

In the past, my baby hems have always been ugly.  Frayed ends stick out, the fabric stretches and then curls, and the hem width is horribly uneven.  The trick?  You need something called ban roll, a starched plain-weave tape.  Here is how to use it!


The first step is to prep the ban roll - you will use it to sew the seam, but you will remove it afterwards, so you can use it over and over again (hence buy a large amount, like 5 yards, to cover the maximum amount of hemming you'd ever need for a very full skirt, and you only need to prep once).  Start by trimming off one edge, where the threads are woven a little tighter.  The beauty of ban roll is that it allows you to sew a baby hem as small as possible.  To achieve this, the next step is pulling out around 3 of the lengthwise threads.  You will end up with something that looks like a very short comb, as in the right hand picture.  Since most baby hems are preferred as small as possible, three threads should be all you need to remove (you can remove more, however).


The next step is done incorrectly in the photos, but I will show them anyway for clarification.  Here, you can see that I lined up the ban roll to the edge of the chiffon and pinned (like you would hem tape).  However, for a cleaner finish (and no risk of sewing into a frayed edge that will later come undone), you would really want to pin the ban roll about half an inch from the chiffon edge, so the stitches will catch fabric that has not frayed for a more secure hem.  In the second picture, you can see how the ban roll lines up with the needle - the next step is to stitch up against the woven part of the roll.  You want to make sure your stitching stays within this "comb area", and not into the woven area, because you will be pulling it out later.  If you stitch into the woven area, you cannot pull it out! 


This is where the magic happens.  The next step is to flip the ban roll to the inside, against the wrong side of the fabric, once again just as you would hem tape.  The baby hem, therefor, will wrap around the comb part of the ban roll (which is why it is ideal to only remove about 3 threads or so - again, you can do more, as you are in control of where you place your stitch line, but I found it easier to line up my needle with the edge of the woven section so I kept the comb the width of my desired finished hem).  Once you have wrapped the fabric over the comb section, stitch right down the middle as in the right hand picture.


Once your stitching is finished, press the hem with the ban roll still intact.  Then, carefully pull out the ban roll!  If you stitched correctly, you will have only sewn onto the comb section, and not into the woven section - thus holding the roll into the hem just enough to sew, but then once finished it can simply be pulled straight out!  In the second photo, you can see just how narrow the finished baby hem is - and how straight!  The ban roll is sturdy and does not allow the delicate fabric being hemmed to stretch at all.

I cannot even begin to say how much this technique will impact my sewing skills!   The hem before had always been something I'd dreaded - because I was not proficient enough to sew them beautifully, to me they ruined my garments after they looked almost perfect.  One of the seamstresses swears by ban roll - and sews every seam with it.  Now I can see why.

Hope this makes sense! 

25 comments:

  1. such beautiful photos! hehe i miss your fingers

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  2. Hahahaha especially when I point at stuff.

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  3. What an amazing technique! and such beautiful results! This internship has been priceless.

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  4. Wow.. thank you so much for sharing this. I am going to keep this on file. I love learning little tricks!

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  5. would you be able to post corrected pics? I am having difficult understanding what to do. This is fantastic and I can't wait to try on a silk blouse!

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  6. Where do you find the ban roll?

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  7. Thanks so much.

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  8. Hi, what a brilliant idea and we can now get ban-rol in the Uk!! Can I ask if you can use the same te hnique on curved hems (daughter's prom dress) and do I need to do anything differently for that?

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  9. wow! That was sooooo helpful! I always thought you had to have a special machine! Thanks a lot!

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  10. I have been sewing for over 60 years and have always had a problem with narrow hems. Guess even old dogs can learn new tricks. Thanks.

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  11. Where do you get barn roll at? I searched it online and nothing similar comes up?

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  12. Where can this miracle product be found?

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  13. You can buy some via the link below!

    http://www.thesewingplace.com/BanRol-Smooth-Edge-Waistband-Stabilizer-p/nbr.htm

    It is also sometimes referred to as "waistband roll" :)

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  14. Have you tried a rolled hem attachment? Comes in different rolled hem sizes. I think the smallest I've seen is a 1/8". I don't use that one very often but I use the 1/4" one all the time. Works great and super fast.

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    1. I have not tried this actually! I will have to give it a shot some time. I have to say though, I love that the ban roll is adjustable to whatever width you want, so that you don't have to buy multiple attachments.

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  15. This is truly magical! I am excited to try this trick! Thank you for sharing!!

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  16. Are you supposed to turn the hem over the ban role? I can't see it?

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    1. Yes, this is what is photographed in photo 5. After pinning the ban roll 1/2" from the edge and stitching down, you will trim the fabric to the edge of the ban roll "comb" and then turn the hem over the ban roll. You will then stitch again and finally slide the ban roll out.

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  17. Do you have a video of this procedure?

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  18. Thank you, this is priceless! I love to learn something new., but like Lunadesign from earlier comment, I too would love to know about photo 3, if this should have been pinned 1/2 inch from the edge would you then trim that down after the first step? Or are you turning that entire 1/2 inch over? ( in lieu of a corrected photo)

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    1. Yes, I apologize for the incorrect photo called out! You would pin the ban roll 1/2" from the edge, and then trim down after stitching :) THEN you would turn.

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