Some of the techniques I use regularly, I've been using for so long that I'm not completely sure where I learned them. Some are from a singular instructor and some are a hybrid of tips learned from several instructors. The method I use for the hems on knit garments is - I think - a combination of learning from Sandra Betzina and Marcy Tilton.
I start by cutting - from yardage - 1" strips of fusible knit with the stretch going the long way. This allows the hem to move with the garment. The strips are fused to the hemline. I serge the edge simply to be neat. It's not a necessary step. If you don't have a serger, you can still use this technique. If you wanted to finish the edge in some way, you could zigzag over it.
The hem is stitched from the front with a twin needle and a walking foot. Because of the interfacing underneath, the surface is firmer, the threads don't dig in, and the walking foot moves the fabric along without bunching under the needle. On the front, I get a nice, even stitch... with no tunnel... using a regular machine. I've used this technique for a long time with great success. The secret is the interfacing.
When sergers came out on the market, I got one right away and LOVED it. When coverstitch machines came out, I waited a while, finally bought one, and then returned it. At some point in the future, I may get another one if I can be convinced that they are worth the space they take up but not right now. Right now, it is too much bother to pull the machine out of the cupboard for what I see as a singular function. I know others disagree with me and that's okay. For me, it's a lot easier to simply put in a double needle, re-thread the machine, and sew but I am aware that my background in textile art makes changing thread no big deal. I did it constantly.
I like the techniques that I use on knit garments. They look neat and professionally done even though they're not exactly like RTW. Years ago, I remember someone asking me if I had sewn what I was wearing because it looked better than anything they could have bought. THAT is a fabulous compliment. I hate when people say you'd never know as if I was trying to hide the fact that I sewed this garment or am ashamed that I couldn't afford RTW. Occasionally I buy RTW if it fits, if it's the right color, if I actually like it, but that's really REALLY rare. For me, it's the other way around. I feel sorry for people who can't sew.
In her column Ramblings from the Goddess of the Last Minute in the June 2006 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, Robbi Joy Eklow writes: I have a tendency to pet people on the arm if their sweater seems nice and fuzzy, too. The only things I don't go for in a tactile way are earrings, because that would seem too intimate and often the earrings are above my reach anyway. People who make art understand the compliment. I guess that I assume if someone is adorning themselves with art, they expect you to admire it close up, or at the very least, they won't mind if you do. People who don't make art on the other hand, sometimes find my comments alarming. I must admit, I have frightened a few people - like that woman in line at the airport ticket counter who was not happy when I practically shouted across the room, "That purse is fabulous! Did you make it." I keep forgetting that some people think if it looks handmade, it looks homemade and that somehow implies they can't afford store-bought or something like that. I don't quite get it. In my world, someone who can make something of beauty is truly gifted, and we are lucky if they share it with us by parading it around.
Making something of beauty takes time. It takes developing a solid skill set and the tools to do the job - especially well functioning, quality tools. Good scissors. Smooth pins. Quality needles. A well functioning sewing machine. A serger. And so on. Building skills and buying quality tools takes time and commitment and desire BUT... if you have a plan to learn, acquire the right tools, and practice, the results will show up. You'll get better and better.
Sewing is a life long activity. There is always something to learn, always some way in which to improve. Right now, I'm fine tuning fit, upping the quality of my fabric, and looking for opportunities to be more creative. What are you working on?
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - the time and ability to sew and the never ending learning curve