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mikiek

Tiny Hem in Sails

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I'm in double trouble here. First off, I don't know how to use a sewing machine, although I do own one. I'll have to work that one out on my own. That's what Google is for right?

 

Secondly, for the restoration project I am working on I have decided it needs new sails. Looking at the current sails, they have a a very thin hem <1/8" all the way around and inside most of the hems is either a rope or piece of wire.

 

So I am looking for suggestions for sewing this tiny hem. Google has a few options but I thought I ask here since I know I can't be the only person that has had to do this.

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I would suggest going to a sewing store like JoAnns and getting Aleene's Tacky Glue (you may also be able to find it in Michaels craft store).  I've used it to tack down the sail cloth as I fold over the hem. Makes stitching easier.   You could lay some rope (e.g. Syren rope) inside the fold of the hem, apply a little Tacky Glue to hold it. It dries flexible and holds pretty well. I used on the last set of sails I had to make.  Admiral did the sewing machine part for me. ;)

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Jack - do you do a single fold or double fold for the hem? Just asking because it appears the double will give the hem a nice inside edge that won't fray. Of course that means you have to do the tiny fold over twice but it looks a lot better and there's no trimming required after sewing.

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Mike, I did a single fold on mine and used a "fray stopping glue" made by same company to stop the edge from fraying - time will tell if it really works or not.  Probably a double fold would be better but then it depends on the scale. My single fold is nearly impossible to distinguish at 1:48 scale.

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Doing a single fold, the cut edge is on view.

I am thinking that painting a thin strip of a clear

material that dries stiff over the line to be cut

( on the backside ) will stop fraying and give a clean looking edge.

Shellac, varnish, lacquer come to mind. of the three,

I think lacquer may be the better choice - except that the

solvent is so fierce for close up work, inside.

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Maybe clear nail polish?

 

I feel like I need to give sewing a try. This post (method # 2) looks like it wouldn't be too difficult. Sort of looks like something us ship builders would come up with. Pretty smart. I have to give the sewers out there some credit :D

 

I'll get the hem adhesive ready though.

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While accumulating enough guts to get out the sewing machine and make a complete fool of myself I tried this prototype with no sewing. I did a double fold at the edge - fold once, iron, fold again, iron. The hem measures about 1/8", about as small as I could easily do without some sort of edge to help with the fold. I figured messing with a full size iron would be problematic so I used the plank bender instead. Not as much control over heat, steam, etc. but who cares.

 

DSC02483.JPG.0b68612a1966812c5ef2cdf6d09818b0.JPG

 

The sails I am replacing have rope and/or wire in the hem so I tried to duplicate that. I guess I need to find a way to straighten the wire. It was a little curved from being on a roll and did not want to stay under the hem. I have some very thin brass rod I might try if I can't get the wire straight.

 

So I started the first fold at one end of the material, ironed that, folded a little more, ironed that and worked my way to the other end. Sprayed a little starch on it then ironed again. Did the second fold and followed the same process. Then I took my rope and wire and stuffed that into the hem and did my best to push it all the way into the fold at the back.  I used a bead of fabric adhesive in the hem and held that for a count of 60. Then took some straight pins and stuck those thru the hem just to keep the wire from coming out while it dried. This particular adhesive dries like glue. Others are activated by heat so you would need to iron everything while it's all still loose. Doable but easier with an extra set of hands.

 

There's room for improvement but this method does have some potential. From the pix I can see that the hem will need a lot more ironing.  On the light colored fabric the adhesive stained a little but I will be dyeing the sails light brown with some walnut crystals so I don't think this is a problem. I'll have to wait until tomorrow to bend the sails around and see how well it all holds up.

 

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DSC02487.JPG.dd4c5ac31c41454c1449de85f1e1fb1c.JPG

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Pull some of the wire out, cut lengths generously longer than needed. Attach one end to a shelf, or other high surface. Tie a heavy weight to the other end, and let it hang for a few days. That should give you lengths of straight wire.

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You should really stain your fabric first as the glued parts will probably not take any colouring or at least not as much as the other areas not glued. Look at the  MarisStella sails, theses are double folded and will give you an idea how the corners should be cut, in a "V" shape. They will also give you an idea how to do the stitch lines.

IMG_2654.thumb.jpg.a8d423cd760ab74c7126445b8350d84c.jpg

To prevent fraying on cut lines I painted all edges with watered down pva glue, I use Weldbond, I would also do this after colouring the fabric. It did not stain the fabric but your case, with colouring you may want to try a test area. I can also warn you now that when using wire be sure it is straight and in the proper position, the very outside edge of the hem, as it is a real pain to sew around. I only did a little sewing on my sails, by hand, and found the wire to be in the way all the time, with a machine you maybe going through lots of needles

 

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I'll get a few started Ron. If I can get that straight I think what I'm trying might be doable. It was a real bear trying to keep the wire in the hem when it had a little twist. I didn't have enough hands to keep the wire in, hold the hem down and stick some pins in it.

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Don I realized the timing for dyeing as I was putting this together. Material does need coloring first. In some hems I have rope and that would have taken the color also if I wait until afterwards.

 

I'm not set on this whole method, I just had a few minutes and wanted to try ANYTHING and the admiral is being real slow about getting the sewing machine out. She claims that 1/8" double fold hem will be a breeze. I have my doubts. ^_^

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For quality sail fabric, check out a quilt shop, specifically a quilt shop that sells Bernina sewing machines.  The fabric I like for sails is "Art Gallery - Pure Elements."  It's a high quality 100% pima cotton, a good weight and it has a really nice hand.  The fabric comes in 66 different colors, I like the color called 'White Linen'.  A yard of this fabric costs about $12.00.

 

Quilt shops are a great resource!  While you're at the quilt shop, ask them about sewing lessons!

 

To straighten the wire, use a length of wire twice as long as needed.  Grab each end of wire with flat nose pliers and stretch.  For added stretch, place your wrists on the outside of your knees and use your legs to stretch the wire.  Leave the wire long until after sewing.

 

Sewing a finished 1/8" hem IS really easy:    

-Cut the sails 3/4" wider than sail pattern   

-Fold the hem on the sail pattern to make a 3/4" hem.  Lightly press the fold flat.    

-Cut the sail corners 90* to the bisected angle.  This will get rid of the bulk at the corners   

-Insert wire or rope in fold of fabric

-I tried numerous machine feet and the one that worked the best was an 'Open Toe Embroidery Foot.'

  See photo below 

-Sew sail hem line along edge, as close to wire / rope as possible using a stitch length of <2mm.  See photo below 

-After sewing hem line, trim excess hem fabric with appliqué scissors, approximately 1/16" away from sewing.  Be sure to leave enough hem to add sail hardware

-The actual hem in the photo below is 7/64" wide

 

-Secure raw fabric edge and corners with glue

The ONLY glue I recommend using is "Beacon Fabri-Tac".  All of the Aleene's glues will eventually fail, dry out, loose their strength. 

Beacon Fabri-Tac is the glue designers use to glue crystals on to wedding dresses and other garments. 

-Apply glue sparingly between the layers of fabric with a toothpick. 

-Glue may need to be thinned with a drop or two of acetone. 

-To completely close the hem, keep running the toothpick along the hem until the glue starts to set.

-This glue does not spread through capillary action, which is good. 

-The fabric with glue will be a bit firmer, but will still move. 

 

I made this sample in just a few minutes.  Before the glue fully set, I ran my thumb nail across the seam which caused some of the unset glue to squeeze through the fabric and made the fabric a bit shiny. 

 

 

 

Bernina #20 Open Toe Embroidery Foot  2G7A1307.jpg

Sewn Seam Partially Trimmed 2G7A3619.jpg

Hem glued  2G7A3622.jpg

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You might want to consider getting Phospur-bronze wire, from a model RR supplier. Stiff, and doesn't corrode, solders easily. While at you freainda age, the corrosion is not a big deal, his family may want to keep the models after he passes.

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