Here I shall show you 5 ways how to sew a hem with a sewing machine. Different methods suit different fabrics and hem shapes, so keep reading to choose the best types of hems for your project.
HOW TO SEW A HEM - 5 Types of hems
Nearly all clothing items will need a hem and most of the time the type will be determined by the pattern instructions. You can of course always substitute the hem type to better suit your fabric or personal tastes.
The main 5 types of hems are:
This article deals with machine hems. If you are looking for a hand-sewn hem, read how to sew catch stitch. Catch stitch is a common method to sew hems by hand. The article also shows you a couple of alternative hand stitches.
1. Double Fold Hem
This is one of the most commonly used hems in the majority of sewing patterns. It is easy to do and gives a nice professional finish on most items. A double folded hem is best for straight hems as curved hems tend to wrinkle and pucker.
- Step 1: First, press or fold the raw edge over by ¼ inch (6mm)
- Step 2: Press the hem over a second time by the hem seam allowance. Most common in the Treasurie sewing patterns is to press it over again by ½ inch (12mm) or ¾ inch (2cm)
- Step 3: Stitch close to the open folded edge with a matching bobbin. Because the bobbin thread will show on the right side of the garment, check the bobbin sewing machine tension is correct before you start.
Further Reading - How to sew a double fold hem
2. Narrow Rolled Hem
A narrow or rolled hem is typically used for lightweight fabrics, particularly on blouses. It is also great for hemming curved edges such as those found on circular skirts. Although the method is very similar to the double folded hem, the hem is much narrower.
- Step 1: Press up the raw edge by ⅛-1/4 inch (3-6mm). You will want to turn the edge up the smallest amount you can. Watch your fingers on the iron edge as the hem tends to get hot and it is quite fiddly to turn this small amount.
- Step 2: Press the hem up again by ⅛-1/4 inch (3-6mm).
- Step 3: Stitch close to the top edge.
- Step 1: Press up the raw hem edge by ⅜" 91cm). Open the pressed edge and stitch close to the fold.
- Step 2: Trim close to the stitches. (Around ⅛")
- Step 3: Fold the hem again to create a ⅛" (3mm) hem. Stitch over the original row of stitches.
- Step 4: Press.
Using a Rolled Hem Foot
If you find turning such a small edge is difficult, you can also get machine feet that will automatically turn up the edge by ⅛ inch (3mm) or ¼ inch (6mm). They are called a rolled hem foot or a hemmer foot and are available for most makes of machine, either individually or in a kit.
See how the channel in the front of the foot rolls the fabric before sewing so there is no need to press the hem before sewing. This foot does save a lot of time but is best suited to straight hems.
3. Bias Tape Hem
Using bias tape for a hem is great for thick fabrics where creating a rolled hem or double hem would be too bulky. This photo shows the wrong side of the hem. On the right side, you just see a single line of stitches.
There are a lot of types of bias tape but the most common one used for hems is ½ inch (12mm) single-fold bias. This can be shop-bought or you can make your own.
- Step 1: Open one side of the bias tape and pin to the right side of your garment. (Right sides together) Stitch in the crease of the tape which will be ¼ inch (6mm) from the raw edge.
- Step 2: Press the bias to the wrong side. The seam will now be on the very edge of the garment.
- Step 3: Stitch the top edge of the bias tape to the inside of the garment either by hand or machine.
- Step 4: If you wish to have a wider hem, you can place the bias tape futher up.
4. Blind Hem
A blind hem is invisible (or almost invisible) from the right side of the fabric. You often see it on the bottom of slacks or skirts and it is normally used for wider straight hems. You can sew this with a blind hem stitch on most sewing machines with or without a special foot.
I have a full tutorial on how to stitch a blind hem with your machine.
5. Zig-zag or Overlocked Hem
A popular way how to sew a hem is using a combination of your serger and regular machine. You will see these types of hems in many store-bought clothing items. A zig-zag or overlocked hem is great for most fabrics and particularly bulky or hard-to-press fabrics. It is also great for sewing curved edges. This is called a single fold hem.
- Step 1: Zig-zag or serger (overlock) the raw edge and then press it up once by the hem allowance.
- Step 2: Stitch across on top of the finished edge.
How to Sew a Hem - More Types
You now know the basics of how to sew a hem so it is now time to expand your skills with decorative and creative hems. Here are a few more methods you can use.
Decorative Hem Ideas
The 5 ways how to sew a hem outlined above, create a traditional invisible or inconspicuous hem. But hems can also be used to add interest to an otherwise simple garment.
- ADD TRIM - Have a bit of fun and add lace trim, ric-rac or even pom-pom trim to the edge of your clothing.
- CONTRASTING BIAS - Another idea is to use the bias tape method but to put a contrast colored bias tape which shows on the outside. I quite like this method for dresses with a circle skirt.
Knit hems are created completely differently to woven hems since the fabric does not fray and the hems need to retain their stretch so the stitches don't break.
- You can create professional-looking knit hems with a simple zig-zag stitch and some hemming tape.
- Knit hems can also be sewn with a twin needle to produce a double row of stitching similar to those on most of your store-bought t-shirts.
Read the full tutorials:
Knit fabric hems can be transformed by using the lettuce hem technique. This technique creates a wavy hem with a stretched out zig-zag.
If neatly constructed hems are not your style, then the last one I have for you is a frayed hem. Frayed hems are best suited to open weave heavier fabrics and particularly denim.
Read the full tutorials:
- How to Fray Hems (4 different methods of fraying)
How to Sew a Hem by Hand
There are numerous stitches you can use to sew a hem by hand. Some of the more popular include the slip stitch, catch stitch, and running stitch. Read the full article on hand hemming stitches.
How to Sew a Hem - In Conclusion
Thanks for reading this article on how to sew a hem. Do you have any other hemming methods or types of hems you like to use? Please share below.
MORE - HOW TO SEW HEMS
- GENERAL HEMS – How to Sew a Hem
- 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
- KNIT FABRIC HEMS – How to hem knit fabric and twin needles
- KNIT HEMS – Twin Needle
- SQUARE HEMS – How to Sew Mitered Corners
- HAND HEMS - How to sew catch Stitch and Hemming stitch
- SCALLOPED HEMS - Sewing scallops
- DOUBLE HEMS - Double fold hems
- SINGLE HEMS - Single fold hems
- HAND HEMS - Hemming Stitch