Earlier this week we covered sewing finishing our curvy hems with bias tape. For the cropped variation of the Kalle Shirt & Shirtdress pattern, a different technique is required: a hem facing. A little more involved than your standard hemming routine, our curved, faced hem creates a beautiful finish inside and out, in addition to creating the right amount of weight and body for the structure of the shirt.
Before we can sew the hem, we need to finish the side seams of the shirt. Pin front and back together along the side seams, right sides together.
Stitch along the length of the side seam, stopping at the circle mark as indicated on your pattern.Clip through your seam to this circle, being careful not to cut into your stitch line.
Finish the seam above the cut notch with serging or a flat fell seam. If serging, wind your thread tail back into the serging with a darning needle so it doesn’t unravel.
Press the seam to the back – use a tailors ham to press the curve flat under the arm opening. If you cannot get the curve to lay flat, you may need to clip to the original stitch line. Topstitch the seam in place to secure.
Time to prepare the hem facing. Match up the front and back facing along the side seams, right sides together. They should meet up at the top, with the back hem facing extending a little bit lower.
Stitch facings together along seams and press seams open along stitching.
For a super clean finish on the inside, press in the top edge of the entire facing about 1/4″. You can use a line of stay-stitching to use as a pressing guide. You can also serge this seam if you’re feeling lazy.
Now it’s time for the tricky part. Since we are sewing a facing to a shirt with two curves meeting at a point, it’s not as simple as simply matching up the seams and stitching. In order to get a nice crisp point at the side seam, we need to sew the facing in stages.
Start by matching the back shirt to back facing, right sides together.
Match up the side seams and curves on the facing and shirt. You are only pinning through the back shirt and facing here; the front shirt and front facing should be free and clear. Pin right up to the circle mark on the shirt; this is where you will start and stop your stitching. Since you clipped through the seam allowance of the shirt earlier, you should be able to pull the lower seam allowance of the shirt back so it lines up with the facing seam.
Stitch along the back hem, from one circle at the side seam to the other. Ensure the only thing captured in this stitching is the back shirt and facing.
This is what it will look like on the other side of the seam; the lower part of the hem from the shirt itself is being pulled in between the side seam joint as a result of the clipping you did earlier.
Now pin the right shirt front along the right hem facing. You will have a little bit extra hanging off the ends.
Again, you are matching up the facing and shirt along the side seam point; the pins should only be securing the front part, the back should be free and clear.
Stitch the facing to the shirt front. Stop sewing precisely at the circle point. The goal is for the stitching on front and back to match up precisely at that spot on both sides. Tuck the back shirt out of the way so it’s not getting caught in the stitching. Repeat for the other side of the shirt.
Fold the raw edge under on either side of the shirt so it lines up with the shirt placket. Press.
Clip along curved seams so everything lays smooth and flat. Grade seams as necessary.
Turn facing to the wrong side of the shirt and press. Ensure you have a nice, sharp point where front and back side seams meet.
Press the hem thoroughly.
Use lots of pins to secure the facing in place, or glue baste with a fabric glue stick. Ensure the facing edge is folded evenly against placket on either side.
Stitch facing in place, 1/8″ from the edge of the facing seam. If the stitching on the bobbin side is pretty, you may find it easier to do it on the wrong side up so you can ensure you’re catching the facing in place. Finish by hand-stitching the facing down along the plackets on both sides of the shirt.
When you’re finished, you should have two curves meeting at a perfect point at the side seam. This hem facing is definitely a bit of work and requires some precise sewing, but I love the final result. It looks unique and unusual, and creates a nice heft at the seam.
With the base of our shirts now finished, next week we can start to focus on collar construction. I have a few fun posts planned, including one on getting really sharp collar points! Until then, let me know if anything is unclear about this step in the comments below.