Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Growth Tuck Hem

I had a note from a student asking about hems. She was not sure how much to turn up on a pre-constructed bishop she had purchased. I quoted her measurements according to the Canadian Standards for Infants but it seemed like she would be turning a huge hem for a 6 month old child's garment. So I suggested a growth tuck hem.

A growth tuck hem is machine stitched (some of you will cheer!) that allows the mom to let down the hem of the dress as the child grows taller and does not require re-stitching (do I hear another cheer?)
This is accomplished by the creation of tucks above the hem which are stitched with a basting length stitch so the tuck is easily removed and the dress lengthened.

I would strongly suggest that you work this all out with a long piece of paper, pencil and ruler so you know how much fabric you will need before you cut the skirt of your garment. This is the best way to eliminate errors!

So here is how you would go about it.
Working from the wrong side of the skirt, turn up the hem allowance. For ease of calculation I have used a 4" hem. Very lightly press with your iron. 

Next, fold back the hem to the wrong side. Lightly press and pin. Be very accurate!
Take the garment to your machine and stitch the width of the first tuck. For ease of measurement and calculations I have chosen to do 1/2" tucks.
Use a regular stitch length for this tuck.
Back to your ironing board for a quick press. First in the folded state and then open up so you are sure there is no fabric creeping up under the tuck.
Now fold back the hem and measure 1" from the machine stitching of the first tuck to the fold of the second tuck. This must also be very accurate - each step takes precision or you will have 'wonky' or 'wavering' tucks.
When you have measured, lightly pressed and pinned the fold in place, it is back to the machine to stitch tuck #2. This tuck is also at 1/2" on your seam guide. (Now I know that my needle stitches ever so slightly to the left of exact Center Needle Position so without an adjustment I will get a very slightly larger tuck but I can live with this. All it means is that you will not see the stitching of the first or second tuck when I am done.) 
So back to the machine and stitch tuck #2. This time switch to a basting length stitch (e.g. 5) so the tuck can easily be removed in the future.
Return to the ironing board to press and measure for Tuck #3. Don't forget to check there is no fabric creeping up any of the stitched tucks.
From both sides now....
So when you are finished three tucks should look very much like this:
The last two tucks are sewn using a long stitch (e.g. 5) so they can easily be removed starting from the top tuck.
Be sure to tell mom what to do. Years ago I made a little dress for my niece and my sister doesn't sew. When I saw the dress a months later to my horror, my sister had picked out the bottom tuck, let down the hem and re-stitched it at half the original width! She said she didn't know any better and had had a rough time reworking the hem. So what seems so simple to a sewer.....
If you anticipate the tucks are going to be let down then suggest that mom not press them every time the dress is pressed. Those press marks are hard to remove at the best of times.
There is nothing saying that you can not space the tucks. This is another reason for working everything out with paper - you can test what space you have in the skirt and what effect you can achieve. Just remember to keep the width of the tucks in proportion to the size of the garment.
You might consider adding touches of embroidery on the tucks themselves or the spaces in between if you are spacing the tucks. Or perhaps you know the tucks are never going to be released and like doing 'shark's teeth'. You can create some very attractive designs with this detail. A set of tucks can be strictly decorative and set apart with a row of two of lace insertion.
There are so many ways of utilizing these wonderful tucks. I hope this inspires you to be creative with your hems.
So till next time, keep stitching.....

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