It was not so long ago that I believed a garment could be finished without any hand sewing. I mean, that’s what machines are for – and why would I want to delay wearing a garment by taking the extra time to deploy stitches by hand to an item? I really felt that these kinds of finishes (including hand-basting underlining) belonged in couture dress making and not in my everyday wardrobe.
But lately, I’ve found myself finishing nearly every garment by hand – hems and sleeves in particular – to get “invisible” finishes instead of simply running the garment through the machine with a visible line of stitching left to show.
Beyond the barely visible stitches, hand finishing also gives much greater control over how fabrics go together. As in this photo, where I am attaching self-made bias tape to the bottom of my most recent top:
Of course bias tape can be sewn on with a machine, but in my experience it’s a challenge to line everything up so that top and bottom layers are caught evenly. Hand sewing allows me to line it up as I go, resulting in a much tidier finish than I have gotten in past attempts to finish a hem this way. I mean – it’s a no-brainer right? Taking time with each stitch allows me to control the needle and the fabric for a more professional look.
A lot of us have fears about hand stitching – right? But now that I’ve been tackling hems this way more often, I have definitely gotten quicker and better at it. And really – no one can see the backside anyways!
It also just slows me down enough to help me with the bad habit of pushing to finish after a long evening of sewing. This is always when the mistakes get made. When I decide I will hand hem, I just get myself to raw edges and then set the work aside, knowing I will give myself the space to sit out in the garden (now that the weather is warmer) or beside Brian on the couch while we are watching a show – and find a nice end to each make. Far preferable than the rushed and frenzied “get-it-done-beforebed” finish. I suppose it goes along with my tendency overall to take a bit more time with my makes these days. I don’t need a thousand things – just a few really well-made things.