When it comes to designing, I somehow have an inclination to add elements that have some form of curvature at the hem. For that reason, I’ve spent years sewing and clean finishing curved edges. I feel that soft curves flow nicer, feeling softer and looking more organic. In dressmaking, materializing a design means applying sewing techniques that are often a bit more tricky than others. Clean finishing a curved edge, while it may seem and sound simple, is one of those sewing instances that can actually be quite tricky.
Fun fact: Curved edges misbehave. They tend to defy folding and require a lot more patience in the clean finishing process. For years, I’ve patiently turned curved fabric edges by hand, attempting to keep them smooth and tension free. Even with using and iron and hand basting, folding and topstitching curved hemlines is nothing more than a roller coaster ride. Recently however, I came across a simple technique that saved me from hours of crouching over the ironing board. It is called easestitching and in its pure simplicity, solves some of the most complex sewing challenges.
What is easestitching? A machine basting stitch that is applied along curved fabric edges and then pulled as much as necessary to gather up the seam allowance into even, smooth curves- Beautiful.
Easestitching serves as the perfect tool for manipulating curved folds and evenly distributing excess seam allowance. In the steps below, I’ll show you a techniques for folding curved edges with easestitching used on hemline finshes, as well as curved patch pockets and folded edge appliques.
1. Change your machine stitch setting to a longer stitch length. Depending on how thick the fabric is, you may have to use the machine basting stitch setting, especially if your fabric is particularly thick and bulky.
2. Stitch along the curved edge, right along the actual seamline. Technically, you should stitch about 1-2 thread widths below the seamline but just so we keep things simple, use the seamline as an exact guide. This is called easestitching and it will facilitate turning the curved fabric edge smoothly and evenly. Curved edges should usually have very small seam allowance as this ensures smoother folds with less wrinkles and bulk (especially if double folded).
If you are stitching along a fabric edge that has both curved and straight edges, apply easestitching only to the curved portions.
3. Grab one of the loose threads on one end and pull gently until the raw edge folds up. Although this is similar to gathering, you really should not see any creases or puckers along the folded edge. Pull the easestitching enough to facilitate folding the curved edge and that’s it. This is the same concept used on set in sleeves to shape the sleeve cap at the sleeve seam.
4. Use your iron to crease the fold line and keep the turned fabric edge in place.
As you can see, the folded curve achieved with easestitching is smooth, even and equally folded throughout.
If you are using this finish for a patch pocket or other topstitched surface applications, you don’t need worry about actually clean finishing the raw edge. However, if this is the curved edge of a hem, make sure you apply some sort of finshing technique to the fabric’s raw edge to prevent it from fraying. This can be a serging stitch (or zig zag stitch on your home sewing machine), binding, twill tape, etc. Check out some hem finishing methods in this tutorial:
4 Easy And Most Common Ways To Clean Finish Hems.
If you choose to double fold and topstitch a curved edge, make sure the hem allowance is as narrow as you can manage to double fold. 1/8'' is ideal but you may find it easier to work with 1/'' or even 3/8 '' depending on the fabric.
To add a second fold, try this technique:
1. Add another row of easestitching following the location along which the fabric’s folded raw edge aligns.
2. Gently pull again to encourage the second fold to fold into place.
3. Use your iron to press this second crease thus enclosing the fabric’s raw edge on the inside of the fold.
You can now blind stitch or topstitch to complete the finished curved edge. To learn how to topstitch or hand blind stitch, check out this tutorial on some useful hem finishes: 4 Easy And Most Common Ways To Clean Finish Hems.
Similar Tutorials You May Like:
How To Finish Seam Raw Edges
Understanding Seam Allowance: Beginner's Guide To Fabric Allowance
Clipping The Seam Allowance During Sewing: How And When To Use It
4 Hand Sewing Stitches And Techniques You Should Know As A Beginner
4 Easy And Common Ways To Clean Finish Hems
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Designer by trade and dressmaker at heart. I spend most of my days obsessing over new fabrics and daydreaming new ideas.
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