A double fold hem is a type of hem where the edge is folded twice so that the raw edge is completely tucked in and will not fray. It is considered the most durable type of hem and is commonly found in the majority of sewing patterns. The hem can vary from narrow to wide.
What is a double fold hem?
A double fold hem is a hem that is folded twice before stitching. Double fold hems are used for woven fabrics rather than stretch fabrics. The width of your hem can vary according to the item you are sewing and your personal preference. These hems are the most commonly used type as the raw edges are tucked inside meaning it can withstand many washes without fraying.
Supplies To Do a Double Fold Hem
- You will need a measuring tool such as a ruler or seam gauge. Seam gauges are small sewing tools with a movable slider that are great for measuring small distances.
- Matching bobbin and top thread.
How to Do a Double Fold Hem
Step 1 - Wrong Side
First, turn your fabric to the wrong side. Hems are always sewn on the wrong side so that all that is visible on the right side is a neat single row of stitches.
Step 2 - Seam Allowance
Work out what is the seam allowance of the hem. This means how much extra fabric is added to the length of the item to allow for the hem.
Decide if you want a double fold hem which is comprised of equal folds or unequal.
For example, if your seam allowance at the hem is 2 inches. You could fold the hem twice by 1 inch or fold it once by ½ inch and then the second time by 1 ½ inches. Folding it by equal parts usually results in a stiffer hem.
As a general rule, fold equally for narrow hems and unequally for wider hems.
Step 3 - Pressing
Pressing Unequally - In this tutorial, I will do a seam allowance of 1 inch (2.5cm) which I will divide into ¼ inch (6mm) for the first press and ¾ inch (2cm) for the second press. ¾ inch (2cm) hems are quite common in women's clothing on sleeve edges and bottom hems.
- Press your raw edge up by ¼ inch (6mm) all the way around the hem.
- Press it up again either by a wider amount. I am going to do my second press as ¾ inch (2cm).
Pressing Equally - Press the hem up by two equal amounts. For example ½ inch and ½ inch (12mm).
Here is the first fold.
This is the second fold. If you are pressing equally you don't need to measure again since you are folding by the same amount.
Step 4 - Stitching
Pin the pressed up hem first. I like to pin horizontally to hold the hem in place but vertically will work for wider hems. Stitch all the way around the inside of the folded hem on the wrong side. You want to stitch about ⅛ inch (3mm) from the edge.
MACHINE STITCHING - Use an average stitch length of 2.5 and your all purpose presser foot.
At the beginning and end of your stitching you can seal the ends by backstitching. This means you go backwards about 3 stitches to prevent the stitching from coming undone.
For an almost invisible hem use a matching bobbin color as this is what will show on the outside. The top thread will show on the inside so while it is nice for it to match it is not so important.
HANDSTITCHING - A double fold hem can be easily handstitched using a running stitch. This easy up and down stitch is suitable for beginners.
Step 5 - Finish
To finish your hem give it a final press. Even though you pressed previously, this final press really makes a difference and melds the thread into your fabric.
Alternatives to a Double fold hem
There are times when a double fold hem is either too bulky or doesn’t suit the item you are sewing.
- Blind hem - Best for wider hens where a truly invisible hem is wanted. The easiest way to do a blind hem is with a special foot that comes with most machines.
- Bias bound hem - Great for thicker fabrics such as wool skirts where the hem edge is too thick to fold double. Sew the bias to the raw edge and then sew the other edge of the bias tape up.
- Round hems - While a double fold hem can be used for circular items, there are other easier ways that result in a better hem. Double fold hems on circular items can give puckering.
- Hand-stitched hem - Hand-stitched hems are not just for times you don’t have a sewing machine. Use them for delicate fabrics or for invisible perfect hems.
- Hemming Tape - This iron-on tape is used for a no-sew hem and is great for alterations and mending.
Double Fold Hems - In Conclusion
So now you know how to do double fold hems you are well and truly on your way to making great garments.
More Hem Articles
- GENERAL HEMS – How to Sew a Hem (This is the best article to read if you are not sure what kind of hem you need. It gives a rundown of all the most common types)
- NARROW HEMS – How to Sew a Narrow Hem
- ROLLED HEM FOOT – How to Use a Rolled Hem Foot
- WIDE HEMS – How to sew wide hems
- CIRCULAR HEMS – How to sew circular hems
- BLIND HEMS – How to sew a blind hem | blind hem foot
- RUFFLED HEMS – Lettuce Hems for stretch fabric
- KNIT FABRIC HEMS – How to hem knit fabric, catch stitch
- KNIT HEMS – Twin Needle
- SQUARE HEMS – How to Sew Mitered Corners
- HAND HEMS – Hemming Stitch
- WOVEN HEMS - Double Fold Hem
- SQUARE HEMS - How to Sew Mitered Corners
- NO-SEW HEMS - How to Use Hemming Tape