Rolled Hems…..Another Method

This is a fast and easy way to make a professional looking rolled hem on your wedding gown, formal dress, blouse or on an accessory like a scarf.

In my first post on how to make a rolled hem, I used a rolled hem foot.

This method doesn’t use a rolled hem foot.

In fact, you don’t need any extra gadgets on this one.

First, fold up your hem and press it:

Stitch close to that folded edge.

I like to stitch 1/8″ away from the fold:

Then, as careful as you can, trim close to the stitched edge, on the wrong side of the dress, taking great care not to cut the dress:

 Now, turn up the edge 1/8″ more and press:

Turn to the right side and stitch close to the edge, about 1/8″ away from the edge:

Once you are finished, you can look on the back side of the hem and see that there are the two lines of stitching:

Because there are two lines of stitching, I don’t typically like to use this method on see through fabrics that are sheer.

But it works great on satins, crepes, silks, cottons, most polyesters, etc.

But on the right side of the dress, you’ll see only one row of stitching:

I like to press the dress from the wrong side to ensure that there isn’t a “shine” from the iron.

That’s all there is to it.

See, I told you it was easy!

Baby Blankets…Let’s Sew Some!

Ok, I know this isn’t an alteration, but I just have to tell you about these blankets that I make for every baby shower that I go to!

They are so simple and fast, you can whip up two or three in an hour.

I first got the idea when my mother-in-law showed up after the birth of our first daughter, 24 years ago, with this:

Aren’t the ducks cute?

We all thought I was having a boy, hence the blue and yellow.

I absolutely loved the blanket and knew that I had to make some for everyone I knew and then some.

But, see how she went to all the trouble of turning down the edge of the blanket?

I figured out a much easier way to make them.

I can’t tell you how many people still come up to me today and tell me how wonderful the blankets were and how their kids dragged them around until they fell apart.

That’s a sign of a good gift.

I know what you’re thinking…you’re thinking you can just go out and buy some just like these, right?


These are way better.

Everything is better: the thickness, weight, pliability, durability and softness.

You couldn’t ask for more.

So, let’s take a closer look at the process and some tips along the way.

I wait until there’s a really great sale on flannel and I buy a bunch of it.

I select some fabric suitable for boys, and some for girls.

I buy 2 1/2 yards for each blanket.

It’s usually 45″ wide, so I figure 1 1/4 yards (or 45″) for each side of the blanket, because I like them to be a square shape.

Don’t worry if your measurements are not a perfect square.

Go with what you have.

A square shape makes them easier to fold and these dimensions are a  perfect size for baby.

First, prewash and dry your fabric because flannel is usually made of 100% cotton and it almost always shrinks some.

Next, take that 2 1/2 yard piece and cut it in half across the width:

Then, open up the 2 pieces of fabric and lay them right sides together like this:

Smooth out the fabric.

Trim where it doesn’t line up well.

Stick  at least a few pins in on every side of the fabric.

You may want to put more pins in than that, but I figure you need a few so that when you lift it up off the ground or table, it doesn’t shift on you.

Always put those pins in perpendicular to the edge, that way they’ll be easier to remove as you sew along.

(Most of you already know that, but I do have several readers who are just starting to sew.)

Don’t start at a corner, start sewing on some area along a side:

It doesn’t matter what amount of seam allowance you use, but I would suggest at least 3/8″ or larger.

Sew around the edges, pivoting at the corners, and leave about 8 inches open:

Trim the corners so that you’ll have less bulk in that area when you turn the blanket right side out.

Press the seam allowances back at the opening:

Do both sides of the opening:

I do this because it will be easier than pressing it in a later step.

Take an item you have around the house, like this small screwdriver….

and stick it inside the blanket and use it to pop out the corners of the blanket:

Turn the blanket right side out and press the edges nicely so that one side doesn’t stick out more than the other:

Next, topstitch around the edges of the blanket.

Whatever seam allowance you used, make sure your topstitching is done using a narrower seam allowance so that when you go over the 8″ opening, the machine stitching will close it in and you won’t have to hand stitch anywhere.

Again, begin topstitching in the middle of a side, not at a corner because it looks nicer to not have the tail threads at a corner.

When you get to a corner, be sure and stop before you get to it.

If you are topstitching a half inch from the edge, then stop a half inch from the upcoming edge.

Keep the needle down in the fabric:

Lift the presser foot and turn the fabric 90 degrees toward the next side you want to topstitch.

Put the presser foot down and continue sewing.

When you’re all finished, your corners will look great:

That’s it! That’s all there is to it!

Whip up several this afternoon and keep some on hand:

You’ll make baby and Mama so happy.

How to Alter a Dress or Top With Binding

You may have a garment that has bias binding along the armhole or neckline edge and you wonder how to alter it.

The binding is a separate, narrow, bias strip of fabric that is sewn on to the garment.

Here is an example of what binding looks like:

Many customers ask me to make this alteration by just pinching the blouse in and sewing right across the binding.

But what they don’t realize, is that it results in a thick and cumbersome seam.

Instead, I like to take  the garment and binding apart and resew them so that the garment looks the same as it did before the alteration.

This customer needed the shoulder seams taken up and the side seams taken in.

(You may recognize this blouse from the post I wrote on French Seams.

Instead of writing a second post on French Seams, I went back yesterday and added to that post.

So, if you missed it, you’ll want to go back and read How To Alter French Seams again.)

This customer decided she didn’t want French Seams put back in.

Instead, she wanted me to serge the edges.

So, that is what I did.

Let’s walk through the alteration process.

First, I began by taking out the stitches at the shoulder area.

Since I had to take up the shoulder seams 1/2″, I ripped out about an inch of the binding from the shoulder seam towards the front of the top.

This top is made from chiffon.

Whenever I am working with chiffon, I like to do the seam ripping from the wrong side of the garment because it is delicate and I have to be careful not to snag any threads while ripping out the seam.

You’ll realize that the binding will be larger in circumference than the neck edge once the alteration is made, so you’ll have to alter the binding as well as the garment.

The same will be true of the armhole edge once the shoulder seam and the side seams are taken in.

I’ll show you how to alter the armhole in the next step after we finish this neck edge.

Back to the neck edge:

I took out the entire binding on the back neckline . (The other option would be to put a seam in the binding at the shoulder seam spot.)

I don’t want to do that because it will add more bulk to that area and it’s difficult to work with binding in a small area like that.

With this blouse, the neck binding extends beyond the back edge of the blouse to make ties, so it’s much easier to take out the binding in this case than to make a seam in the binding anyway.

This is what it should look like once you’ve removed the binding:

You also need to remove the binding where the shoulder seam meets the armhole.

Take it out from the shoulder seam to the side seam.

I took mine out down the back of the blouse. That way, if I make any mistakes, it’s less noticeable on the back than it would be on the front:

You will take the binding out all the way to the side seam because that is where a seam already exists.

Now, alter the shoulder seam itself:

In this case, I just stitched the front and back sides of the blouse right sides together and left the seam allowance alone.

It wasn’t too bulky and I thought it would look better than cutting off the excess and serging the edge.

Next, fold the binding along the fold lines and just sew the binding back on to the neck edge following the same exact stitching lines that the manufacturer used.

That way, it will look professional, like you never did the alteration:

Now, let’s alter that side seam.

This blouse had 2 layers.

The outer layer was the chiffon and the under layer was lining made of polyester.

The manufacturer had sewn these two layers together at the underam area.

So, just take out the stitching and separate the 2 layers:

Now, alter each layer separately.

You can see the outer layer chiffon fabric on the left and the lining on the right:

The next step is to finish the edge of each of the seams.

I used a serger to cut off the seam allowances and finish them:

Now, do you see the original seam in the binding (just right of my thumb in the photo below)?:

Take it apart at the seam.

(If there is plenty of extra fabric, then just cut it apart at the seam.):

Next, I mark where the new seam should go by using pins.

You could use a washable marker if you prefer.

To mark it, I put the pin in the binding at the point where the side seam matches it:

I put a pin on both sides of each binding strip:

Then, I match the pins and the strips right sides together and stitch across the binding strip creating the new seam:

Open that seam out and make sure the foldlines of the binding strip match up.

If they don’t, resew the seam until they do.

This is important so that the binding will lie flat.

Trim the seam if you need to in order to reduce bulk.

Line the binding back up with the garment and sew along the original seamline:

This is what the new seamline should look like:

I think you’ll find that this method works well on all sorts of items: tote bags, T-shirts, vests, dresses, purses, etc.

I’d love to hear what you use this application for.