Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bridal Bliss

As the resident seamstress of the family in Minnesota, I was asked to hem the wedding dress of my husbands second daughter, to be married in May. Looking at a photo sent in a text message, it was hard to say if it could be altered much but I would take a look. We finally got together at Christmas and she modeled her dress that needed to be let out in the bodice and hemmed 3.5 inches. Because the back was laced, there was a panel that was sewn in plus snaps so I could adjust it to give her another inch without showing the adjustment. But now for the hem: (sorry not much for photos to protect the groom from seeing this gorgeous dress)

It was made up of a satin base for the dress with layers of chiffon. Every other layer was pleated and all of the layers were on an angle, or asymmetrical. Since she needed so much off the bottom layer, a pleated one, I was afraid it would look like the last layer was just barely peaking out. But back to the beginning of this job, I was going to have to shorten the satin layer first, then the underlining, then the two layers of stiff netting before I worried about the chiffon. You might know it, the satin layer has a fine net stiffener all around so I needed to take out two rows of stitching and reapply that stiffener. Because there was a train, I didn't have to take out the entire hem, just the front and tapering back to the train. The underlining and layers of netting were pretty easy so that left only that chiffon, the part that would really show.

I decided I need to master the hemmer foot and now I had yards of chiffon that I just cut off to practice on. Enter the Singer 201 with a standard hemmer foot:

Singer 201 with hemmer foot
These were part of a set included in almost all straight stitch Singers of the day so I got out the instructions, watched videos, practiced, practiced, practiced, but here's what I got:
Hemmer foot in action (or in-action)
Note the fabric coming out the back of the needle? The stitches are there but it didn't catch the fold in the fabric. At least, sometimes it did and sometimes it didn't. This wasn't going to work.

Then I remembered how great the Bernina's stitched and they had a whole collection of hemmer feet so I got out the Bernina 830 Record with foot #168:
Bernina foot #168

From the top, those two models of hemmer feet hardly look different but when turned over there are differences. Look at the hem the Bernina made:

Bernina hemmer foot in action
Nearly perfect! I had a few stops and starts in the beginning but then I got into a rhythm and it really rolled along, pun intended. It was such a tight hem that I didn't feel the need to even press it and thought she might want to have the whole dress touched up right before the wedding anyway and could decide then if it needed any extra care.

Moral of the story: when faced with a high level task, go for the best equipment. Bernina is know for their marvelous quality of stitches and their feet might be expensive but for hemmers, they were the best. Did the hem look like it was a tiny ruffle at the bottom? Not at all, it looked perfect and she will be a perfect bride.

1 comment:

Thin Man Sewing said...

Sounds like a beautiful dress.
I have a Bernina rolled-hem foot I use for shirt hems. Yes, the Bernina feet are great.