Often, the most exciting notions look rather nondescript inside their cardboard boxes and cellophane wrappers. Our goal with the Products We Love series is to break open the packaging, show you how to use these cool tools, and inspire you to add one or more to your own sewing basket. The Clover Hot Hemmer is one of the best little pressing tools we’ve come across in a long time. Although pressing is an incredibly important part of the construction process, we’re not always happy to be hemming. But the Hot Hemmer helps keep all those narrow folds accurate without having to get your fingers too close to the iron. Nearly every time we feature this tool in our instructional photos, someone asks about it, so we knew it was time to make sure you had all the details.
Part of the Press Perfect collection by Joan Hawley for Clover, the Hot Hemmer is a 5″ x 6″ powerhouse of pressing. It’s definitely one of those, “I-can’t-believe-no-one-thought-of-this-before” kind of products. Of course, there have been hem gauges for years, but they are usually metal or plastic. Ironing over a metal gauge can make it too hot to touch and it can actually get hot enough to damage delicate fabric. Plastic is often simply not able to handle ironing without melting or warping, which means you constantly have to measure and then move the gauge out of the way, hoping you can keep your fold accurate.
The measuring marks on the Hot Hemmer are very accurate and include straight edges, a curved corner, a true 45˚ diagonal for mitering, and ⅛” divisions. The most common ¼”, ½” and ¾” measurements are highlighted.
You can use the Hot Hemmer with either a dry or steam iron, and it will withstand temperatures up to 428˚F (220˚C). As with ironing on any surface, if you hold your iron in one place on the Hot Hemmer for an extended period of time, the surface can become discolored.
Below, we walk you through how to use the Hot Hemmer for five of the most common tasks.
Flat double-fold hem
- Place the fabric wrong side up on your work surface/ironing board.
- Lay the Hot Hemmer on the fabric.
- Wrap the raw edge of the fabric over the hemmer, aligning the raw edge of the fabric with the appropriate ruler mark for your initial fold. We used a ½” initial fold. Press in place.
- Continue sliding the Hot Hemmer along the fabric, wrapping and pressing as you go.
- With the initial fold pressed in place, simply reposition the Hot Hemmer at the beginning of the hem and fold up the second fold. We used 2″ as a second fold. Press in place along the length of the hem as above.
Double-fold hem with clean corners
- One of our favorites here at S4H is a narrow hem with a clean miter-style corner. If you are new to this technique, check out our full step-by-step tutorial.
- We tested our tutorial using the Clover Hot Hemmer, and it made quick work of the folding and pressing.
- Thanks to the exact diagonal line running across the Hot Hemmer, it’s fast and easy to create a true 45˚ fold.
- Then simply slide the Hot Hemmer along to continue maintaining the straight run of the hem.
- It worked equally well for the larger hem and heavier fabric shown below as well as for the very narrow hem in lightweight fabric shown above.
Quick curves for pockets
- With your pocket cut to size, place the Hot Hemmer on the wrong side of the fabric. Position the curve of the Hot Hemmer at the bottom corner of the pocket where you want a curved edge.
- Fold in the raw side edges to the ½” line on the Hot Hemmer, pressing in place as you go.
- Fold in the corner fabric, pulling it slightly taut so it follows the curve of the Hot Hemmer.
- Press to set the curve of the corner.
- Repeat to create the opposite curved corner.
- Then, slide the Hot Hemmer to the top of the pocket.
- Fold and press to make a standard double-fold hem along the top.
- Pin in place, and you’re ready to stitch
Move from right to left or left to right
- Because the Hot Hemmer has identical accurate markings running both horizontally and vertically, it’s easy to move in either direction with your marking and pressing. This is especially nice on very, very long hems.
- Using the corner cut out, position the bottom edge of the Hot Hemmer so it runs along the bottom raw edge of your fabric. Slide the Hot Hemmer right to left, marking at your desired height. We show a 1″ mark in the photo below. Just keep the edge of the Hot Hemmer running flush with the raw edge of the fabric.
- To head left to right, simply rotate the Hot Hemmer 90˚ and head in the opposite direction, marking as you go.
- When complete, fold and press along your marks.
Marking dimensional corners
- The corner cut out is also very handy when you need to measure and mark on an already dimensional item, such as finding the point at which to insert purse feet on the bottom of a finished bag.
- Align the Hot Hemmer with the corner of the bag bottom, adjusting for your required depth. Then trace the corner with a fabric pen or pencil.
- Pull away the Hot Hemmer, and you have a perfect intersection point to work with.