If you’ve ever watched one of my videos or read my “how-tos” on my blog (like the Agua Bendita Dupe or DIY Color Block Two-Piece Set), then you already know that I am a sucker for a beautifully finished hem.
Whether you’re upcycling a vintage find or giving a fresh touch to your wardrobe staples, knowing how to hem can elevate your sewing projects to new heights.
I’m thrilled to share a skill that’s essential for every DIY fashion enthusiast: how to sew a hem.
By the end of this article you’ll know 4 different ways for sewing hems that are sure to give your project a finished edge that makes your jaw drop.
We’ll get into how to sew a hem, but first I want to make sure we talk about why hems are important.
Why Hemming is Essential
Knowing how to hem isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about taking pride in your work and creating something that’s “complete”.
A well-sewn hem:
Provides a polished finish, making your garment look professionally made.
Extends the life of your clothing, preventing fraying and wear.
Allows for personal touches, ensuring your clothes fit just right and reflect your unique style.
Whether you’re using a zig zag stitch to fix a raw edge, sewing hems to shorten your pants, or anything in between, knowing how to sew a hem will greatly impact the quality of your final product.
Let’s gather our tools. Being resourceful is key, so feel free to use what you have on hand or find alternatives:
What Are the Different Types of Hems
There’s a world of hems out there, each with its charm. We’re going to focus on 4 for this article:
- Double Fold Hem: Classic and sturdy, perfect for most woven fabrics.
- Blind Hem: Invisible from the outside, it’s a subtle choice for formal wear.
- Rolled Hem: Delicate and fine, ideal for lightweight fabrics like silk.
- Bias Tape Hem: A decorative edge using bias tape for a pop of contrast.
How to Sew a Double Fold Hem:
This is your “go-to”. The standard.
Given it’s practical use, this is what you’ll use the majority of the time for your pant legs, cuffs, and woven fabrics. It’s often done with a straight stitch or decorative stitches and can be machine sewn or hand sewn hems.
- Prepare the Fabric: Measure the desired length, mark it, then cut any excess fabric, leaving enough for the hem allowance.
- Choose Your Hem Type: Refer to the types mentioned above and decide which suits your fabric and garment best.
- Fold and Press: For a double fold hem, fold the fabric edge up by half the hem width, then fold again. Press with an iron.
- Pin in Place: Use pins to secure the folded fabric, ensuring it’s even all around.
- Sew: Using your sewing machine or hand-stitching, sew the hem in place. Remember to backstitch at the start and end for durability.
- Press Again: Give your newly sewn hem a final press for a crisp finish.
How to Sew a Blind Hem:
A blind hem is used when you want nearly invisible hemline. It’s typically done on the garment’s right side. The blind hem stitch involves a combination of straight stitches and occasional zigzag stitches that catch the folded edge of the fabric. When the fabric is unfolded, the stitches are hidden on the garment’s inside, leaving only minimal stitches visible on the right side.
- Fold and Mark: Fold the fabric to create the hem and mark a point near the fold using a fabric marker.
- Zig Zag Stitch: Use a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine, starting from the marked point. Sew the zigzag stitch along the fold of the fabric (note that you will want a blind hem foot for this).
- Fold Again: Fold the fabric along the original fold line, hiding the zigzag stitches.
- Straight Stitch: Use a straight stitch on your machine to sew along the new fold line. This stitch will catch the folded edge on the inside.
- Check the Stitches: Open up the fabric to reveal your blind hem. The zigzag stitches are hidden, and the hem looks clean and professional.
- Press and Finish: Press the hem with an iron to set the stitches. Your blind hem is complete, providing a neat and discreet finish to your garment.
How to Sew a Rolled Hem:
From chiffon to silk, a rolled hem is perfect for your projects that demand a lightweight fabric. This narrow hem is great for the curved edges you see on a circle skirt or rounded scarves, providing smooth and even curved hems without puckering.
- Fold Once: Fold the fabric edge once to encase the raw edge. Press the fold with an iron to make it neat.
- Fold Again: Fold the fabric edge a second time, this time folding it over the first fold. Press with an iron to create a narrow, double-folded edge.
- Select a Narrow Hem Foot: Attach a narrow hem foot to your sewing machine. This foot helps guide the fabric and create a consistent narrow hem.
- Stitch Along the Fold: Position the fabric under the foot, aligning the folded edge with the guide on the foot. Begin stitching, allowing the foot to guide the fabric and create a rolled edge. The machine will fold the fabric further as you stitch.
- Keep Stitching: Continue stitching along the folded edge, letting the fabric roll as you go. Make sure the stitches catch the folded edge securely.
- Secure and Trim: At the end, backstitch or sew a few extra stitches to secure the rolled hem. Trim any excess thread.
How to Hem with Bias Tape:
Hemming with bias tape is a useful technique that adds a neat and decorative edge to fabric. This technique not only finishes the raw edge but also adds a decorative touch to your fabric. Experiment with different colors of bias tape to create contrasting or coordinating hem edges, adding a unique flair to your projects.
- Prep the Fabric: Fold and press the raw edge of the fabric to the wrong side by the desired hem depth. Make sure the fold is even and neat.
- Pin the Bias Tape to the Fabric: Place the unfolded edge of the bias tape along the raw edge of the fabric, right sides together. The wider side of the bias tape should be facing up. Pin the bias tape in place, aligning the edges.
- Sew Along the Crease: Using a sewing machine, sew along the crease line of the bias tape, stitching through both the bias tape and the fabric. Keep the seam allowance consistent.
- Fold the Bias Tape: Fold the bias tape over the raw edge of the fabric, covering the stitching you just made. The narrow side of the bias tape should now be covering the stitching line.
- Pin & Stitch Again: Pin the folded bias tape in place, securing it over the stitching line. Stitch close to the inner edge of the bias tape, creating a neat and secure hem.
- Press the Hem: Press the bias tape hem with an iron to set the stitches and create a polished finish.
- Trim the Excess: Trim any excess bias tape that extends beyond the fabric’s edge.
Common Challenges and Solutions
Every craft has its hurdles, but with a bit of know-how, they’re easily overcome:
- Uneven Hems: Always measure from the floor or a flat surface to ensure evenness.
- Puckering Fabric: This can happen with lightweight fabrics. Reduce the tension on your sewing machine and use a finer needle.
- Mismatched Thread: Always choose a thread that matches your fabric or is a shade darker for invisibility.
How do you hem by hand?
To hem by hand, fold the raw edge of the fabric to the desired hem length and press. Thread a needle with matching thread and knot the end. Insert the needle from the inside of the fabric and pull through, catching a small amount of fabric. Repeat, making evenly spaced stitches along the folded edge. Knot the thread securely on the inside when the hem is complete, and press the hem for a polished finish.
What does it mean to sew a hem?
To sew a hem means to finish the edge of a fabric by folding it over and stitching it in place. This creates a neat and clean edge that prevents fraying and adds a polished look to garments or fabric items. Hems can be sewn using a sewing machine or by hand.
What stitch length for hems?
For most hems, a stitch length of 2.5 to 3 mm is suitable. Adjust based on fabric type and thickness: shorter for lightweight fabrics, longer for heavier ones. Experiment on a scrap piece to find the ideal stitch length for your specific project.
And there you have it! A beautifully sewn hem that can transform your garments.
Whether you’re revamping an old favorite or starting a project from scratch, knowing how to sew a hem is a game-changer.
Remember, every stitch is a step towards creating something uniquely yours. So, grab your sewing machine, some fabric, and let’s create magic together.
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As always, thank you so much for reading, and happy sewing!