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A sewn hem is a great way to finish the raw edges of your next handwoven project. Sewing hems by hand or machine is a technique used on many of Gist’s weaving projects, like the Beginner Cotton Towels or the Windowpane Blanket, and is a very clean and tidy way to complete your projects.
The first step to hemming hand woven fabric is to secure the raw edge. I have a sewing machine, so I like to use the zig zag stitch to go over this edge. If my warp has more than one item on it, I carefully cut them apart at the spacer and zig zag the edges as I go. If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can leave the hem raw, though you’ll want to be careful when washing.
Washing is a critical part of finishing your projects, regardless of how you’re finishing the hem. (See our blog post on How to Wet Finish Your Handwovens) I usually secure the raw edge first and then wash my project before moving on to hemming. If you don’t have a sewing machine and can’t zig zag the edges like I do, you might want to wash before cutting your projects apart — the washing will help your threads settle into place and stick together when you cut them apart.
Hemming by hand is how I finish all my most important weaving projects because it is invisible and very tidy. To hem your weaving by hand:
Hemming by machine is much faster than sewing by hand, and results in a tidy row of stitches that can be seen from both the front and back of the cloth. To hem your weaving by machine:
Here are a few of the things I do to make hemming a bit easier:
Amanda Rataj is an artist and weaver living and working in Hamilton, Ontario. She studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design University and has developed her contemporary craft practice through research-based projects, artist residencies, professional exhibitions, and lectures. Her textile focus of the material and conceptual nature of vernacular, everyday objects used for the home and body; her work (and weaving patterns) are available at her website, and at Guildworks, or by commission.