Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Singer 127 - the narrow hemmer foot!

I don't know if this might help or interest anyone out there, but I'm putting together a series of Getting to Know my Antique/Vintage Singer Sewing Machine (Singer 127). Today I learnt about The Hemmer Foot.

I would like to ask any sewing machine experts to please point out anything I'm doing wrong. I'm a self taught sewer and am learning about the machine by working my way through the manual.

I would have to say that the narrow hemmer foot is one of my most favourite sewing tools. It ranks right up there with a sharp pair of sewing scissors. A hemming foot is amazing! It can be used to make a very narrow hem (less than 1/4 inch of fabric used), for making a very narrow enclosed seam called a felled seam, and for a few other things.

To make a hem using this foot, place the fabric wrong side up. Press the edge that you are about to sew over about 1/4 an inch (a little less is good) for most of an inch along the edge. You can use your fingers for this like I do, or you can get out your trusty ironing board.

Place this folded over section under the pressure foot.

Sew two stitches and on the third stitch, stop with the needle in the fabric. Work the edge of the fabric gently up into the swirly part of the hemmer foot. You need to make certain you don't have too much fabric or too little, but knowing how much that is only comes with practice.

Continue to sew along the edge adjusting the direction of the fabric with your left hand and using your right hand to guide the hemming edge into the hemmer foot.

Trust me, it sounds simpler than it is.

I recommend that you practice and practice and practice before attempting this on your finished project. Good news! There's an easy and frequent way to practice this technique.

And there you have it. A tidy narrow hem accomplished in one swift pass of the sewing machine.

Have you ever brought fabric home from the shop, sewn something without washing the fabric first then have your effort shrink drastically in the first wash? Maybe you are smarter than me and have never had this happen; but, my very first sewing project when that way and now I wash every yard of fabric that I bring home. First. Before sewing.

Besides, there are a lot of chemicals and sizing that goes into cloth these days and I don't like being exposed to nasty toxins while I sew so I wash out as many of them as I can.

If you just bring the fabric home and stick it in the washing machine, the cut edge frays and you end up with (sometimes quite a bit) less fabric than you started with. If you sew a quick zig zag stitch along the cut edges, then it really cuts down on the fraying.

Or, you could practice your awesome hemming foot skills along the cut edges of the fabric before washing it.

It's a great opportunity to practice. You have a nice long streight edge and it's not going to show in your finished project.

A few other things you can use this foot for:

  • You can make a narrow felled seam (more on that later I hope)
  • You can add lace while hemming (I don't have any lace on hand at the moment, so I cannot show you that just yet)
  • You can use it to finish the edges on seams
  • you can hem with it.
  • I like to use it for the inside edge of the facing on blouses.

A few pointers for using this hemmer foot:

  • First and foremost do a nice large sample on the same fabric that the finished hem will be on. The thread tension is all different for this than for regular sewing and takes a while to adjust.
  • Remember to check the underside (right side) of the fabric as you sew as that's the side that will show.
  • Use a sharp needle. Some reason dull needles make the whole thing messy.
  • Works best on thinner fabric like quilting cotton or thinner.
  • I've never tried it on knit fabrics, but I know it works well on woven
  • It makes a great edge for handkerchiefs
  • Just have fun with it. It's a great little helper and you never know when an occasion to use it might present itself.
Oh and one more thing: Don't do the back stitch thing to secure the stitching. Tie the individual threads in a knot at each end when you have finished sewing. If you are just putting it directly in the washing machine, you don't really need to do that, just leave about an inch when you clip the threads. I've never had it unravel.


Josiane said...

Wow! I don't think my grandma's sewing machine had a hemmer foot, so I didn't know they existed. I can easily see how useful they'd be. A hemmer foot goes straight on the list of things I'll be looking for if I ever get a sewing machine. :)

FelicityGS said...

These are such interesting posts about your machines. I've always been curious about Singers, as we had a treadle powered one and a table in our house when I was growing up--more decoration than anything. I'm curious if it still works...

irishannniesews said...

I am just starting to learn about vintage singer sewing machines and their many attachments I really appreciate the turorial. Thanks so much.

Riot-Bike Co. said...

Thanks! I was trying to figure how to use it last night