Vintage Sewing

I could use some help too

April 5, 2010

I am new to sewing so don’t know all the ins and outs of everything yet. I love sewing vintage clothes and last week finished a circle skirt which I will post as soon as I hem it…and there lies the problem.

I purchased this hem maker last week at a thrift shoppe for $1.oo. I know it will be handy especially for hemming a circle skirt. The problem is I have no clue how to use it. I have searched all over the Internet for a tutorial (I guess not many people are looking for this knowledge. LOL)

I don’t understand the markings “1 hem, 2” hem, etc. And then what is the measuring stick used for? Do you measure from the floor up? I feel dense in the head. I know one or more of you gals will be able to help. So thanks in advance.

  1. The metal part should slide up and down and tighten – does it? If so, you're supposed to set the skirt length at the distance you like from the floor. Then, you use the markings to pin or chalk the unhemmed skirt – skirt length would be where you're going to turn the hem; then the other slots are for how deep of a hem you want, that will be where you cut (or fold over).

    You will need a 2nd person, or a reliable dressform to use this. Great find!!

  2. It does. So I use the "yard stick" to tell me how far from the floor I want the hem? So just below my knee it stands at 22". Is that where I place the top edge if the movable piece? I think I get it. Wait till I tell dear hubby what he needs to help me with tonight.

  3. I have a vintage Singer hem marker with a similar setup — it seems that back in the days when hemlines were precisely dictated by fashion, they were measured in inches from the floor. Which is a nice logical way to get your hem even — just determine where you want the hem to be, set the hem marker to that height (say 20" from the floor), then mark at that height all the way around.

    My hem marker also includes a little device that attaches to the ruler and leads to a rubber bulb I can squeeze to blow a fine line of chalk powder on to the skirt at the desired hemline. This allows me to mark the hem without a helper. If finding a helper at the crucial moment is a difficulty, you might be able to cannibalize another hem marker on eBay for additional parts to set yours up the same way.

  4. Susannah, thanks…I have seen the ones that use the chalk and bulb. I like the idea of hubby doing it. He is a general contractor and is always precise to a fault with measuring…so it should be a good bonding activity for us. 🙂

  5. This little gem will prove to be invaluable with the circle skirt. Once you've let the skirt "hang" so that the bias relaxes, it will be all sorts of lengths.

    Wear the shoes you plan on wearing with the skirt while your husband does the measuring. What is nice is that he can just stick a pin right through the slot on the side (that's the purpose of those indentations) so the measuring will be accurate.

    By the way, when hemming, always measure up from the floor that way you know your hem will be even. If you measure from the waist of the garment, it could look uneven because it is flowing of your body's contours.

    Have fun!

  6. Many memories of standing on the kitchen table while my Mum pinned up the hem on a new dress for me!

    You set up this device so that the fabric falls between the ruler and the metal flap. Your helper will then fold up the hem at the point you have decided, then clamp the metal lever shut, and put a pin through at the right hem depth – ie how much you want to turn up. Then you turn a little, and your helper does the next pin, until eventually your whole hem is pinned up.

    I hope your helper doesn't yell at you as much as Mum did when she got all the way round and the hem still wasn't even!

  7. My husband asked me to go for a walk…and I told him I would if he helped me hem my dress (little did he know). We took the dogs for a walk and quick as a bunny I threw on the skirt and said,'Let's hem". He looked at me and said "What?". He had no idea what he was getting into. It only took 10 minutes to do -5 for him to figure it out and 5 to put the pins in. Thanks everyone…will hem tomorrow and get a photo up soon.

  8. Hem markers are awesome. You can still get them modern. I have a vintage one with a chalk container and a rubber hose. No helper required!

    Ive never seen one like that before. Very cool. It will serve you well.

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