Shortening T sleeves, Smart selvages, Rolled hems

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How do I shorten sleeves on a T-shirt?

T-shirts are made from knit fabric and thus no edge finishing is required. Simply determine the desired sleeve length, allow at least 1″ for the new hem, and cut off the excess sleeve length. It’s best to measure evenly from the existing hemline on a single layer of sleeve to mark the cutting line, as opposed to trying to cut both the front and back layers evenly in one operation. When you’ve trimmed the extra length, press up the new hem along the marked line and topstitch in place using a narrow zigzag, or a twin-needle straight stitch so the stitching line has some flexibility. If  you’re shortening a long-sleeve shirt a small amount, the sleeve may not fit over the arm on your sewing machine, so hand hemming may be needed. For a quick hem fix, use fusible web to hold the new hem in place. Just tuck it inside the hem width and fuse according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

I purchased some wool suiting and the selvage isn’t finished like most fabrics–it’s simply stitched with a zigzag. What’s up with that?

Sometimes fabric is actually woven or knitted wider than the width the manufacturer intends to sell it, so the fabric may be cut, leaving raw or unfinished edges. These may be sewn with a zigzag, straight or serger stitch to keep them from ravelling during the bolting and shipping. If the wool suiting was purchased from a manufacturer, it may be a wider width for use on the industrial cutting tables, and reselling it to the home sewing market may have necessitated trimming it narrower. Since we don’t normally use the selvage for too many sewing functions, simply trim off the stitched area before cutting your garment.

How do I make a rolled hem?

There are three ways to make a rolled hem–either by hand, using a conventional machine or using a serger. On a serger, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for adjusting the stitch length and width to a close satin-looking stitch. The knife blades trim the fabric as the loopers overcast it.

To hand roll a hem, narrowly press up the hem allowance (1/8″) twice and slide the needle into the foldline as you catch the hem to the garment.

To make a narrow hem by machine, double press the hem allowance as noted above and stitch close the to first fold. Or, use one of the accessory feet available for your sewing machine to roll and stitch in one operation.