This section is from the book "Clothing And Health. An Elementary Textbook Of Home Making", by Helen Kinne. Also available from Amazon: Clothing And Health.
Let us begin to make the dish towels. What must we think about in order to hem them very neatly?
Why is the hemming stitch useful? The hemming stitch is a very useful one to learn, for it can be used for so many purposes. Let us learn on something simple - a dish towel or dish cloth for mother. Then you can perhaps hem something for the sale of your Girls' League. Mrs. Oakes says she has a dozen new towels ready for Barbara when she learns how to hem.
The raw edges of material would ravel unless turned and hemmed. The turning is called a hem. It is held with a temporary stitch called basting, and then with the hemming stitch which remains. If the edges were not hemmed, the material would ravel away or look very untidy. The warp threads run lengthwise of the cloth. The firm selvedge is made by the filling thread passing around the warp as the cloth is made. It is this filling thread which will ravel in dish toweling or other material unless a hem is made.
How is the hemming stitch made? This is how Miss James taught the girls of Pleasant Valley to hem:
1. Turn hem of desired width. For the towels, one-fourth inch will be about right when finished. There are two turns because one would ravel. Turn towards the worker. First, turn one-eighth inch to wrong side of material. Second, turn one-fourth inch. Turn and pinch to hold until basted.
2. Baste. Use one-fourth inch stitches. No. 8 needle is a good size for this work, and basting thread can be used for this temporary stitch. Be sure to wear a thimble on the middle finger of the right hand. Little Alice Allen says she never will learn to use a thimble, but she will if she keeps on trying. The picture (Fig. 12) shows the even basting stitch with needle in position. Baste on the edge of the hem. Begin with a knot, and end with two tiny stitches placed one on top of the other to hold until hemmed. Remember basting is a temporary stitch.
Fig. 12. - The basting stitch.
3. Hem the edge with the hemming stitch. Look at the pictures (Figs. 13-16) and then follow carefully the directions. Hold the cloth slanting over the fingers of the left hand, with thumb on top (Fig. 13). Begin without a knot. Put the needle up through edge of hem and allow one inch of end of thread to lie under the hem as you pull thread through (Fig. 14). This end will be worked over and held securely. Now you are ready for the stitch. Point the needle which is in your right hand towards the left shoulder. The point of the needle is passed first through the cloth under the edge of the hem, with a tiny stitch which shows on the right side. The needle, at the same time, catches the edge of the basted hem. This makes a tiny slanting stitch on the right side, so: /. The next stitch is taken about one-sixteenth of an inch from the first, in exactly the same way. As the thread carries from one stitch to the next, it makes a slanting line on the wrong, or hem, side but in the opposite direction from the stitch which shows on the right side. It slants like this : \
Fig. 13. - The way to hold the cloth while hemming.
FlG. 14. - This shows how to start the hemming.
Fig. 15. - The hemming stitch. Notice the slant of the needle.
Together these two make this :
The part marked 1 shows on the right side of the cloth; and 2 on the wrong, where the hem is turned (Fig. 15). When the end of hem is reached, fasten with two or three tiny stitches. If the thread breaks, ravel out a few stitches and let the old end of thread lie under the hem. The new thread can then be started as at the beginning by putting needle in the hole of last stitch. There will be two ends under the hem to work over. The picture (Fig. 16) shows how to join a new thread. Find out how many places the hemming stitch can be used. Try it at home on something before next lesson.
When this stitch has been well learned, it will be possible for the Girls' Sewing League to make many things.
Fig. 16. - The hemming stitch. Starting a new thread.
1. Practice turning hems neatly on a scrap of cloth before starting to turn them on the dish towel.
2. Study the pictures carefully so as to have the stitch exactly the right slant.
3. Practice hemming on a scrap of cloth for a few stitches before beginning the towel.