Learn how to sew a single fold hem. The idea of doing something once, and it's done and dusted, is very appealing in this fast-paced world we live in. How about a single-fold hem? Fold once, sew once, and it's finished. Here’s how to produce the best single-fold hem you can imagine.
What is a Single Fold Hem?
In the most simple terms, a single fold hem is just a piece of fabric, at the hem’s length, folded back, and stitched down. It is most useful when the reverse of the material won't be seen in the finished article.
There are a few steps to consider. This is a simple hem, and although it is called a single fold hem, it does have a few steps in the process to get the best results.
How to Sew a Single Fold Hem
Follow these steps and complete a single fold hem:
Step 1 - Neaten the Edge
You will need to neaten the raw edge of the fabric. Consider a zigzag or a serger to neaten the edge to prevent the hem from fraying. Remember when you neaten the edge you must neaten evenly all around the hem edge so the single fold that comes later is going to be even when you fold it over.
Step 2 - Pin the Hem
Measure the hem length and turn your hem up to that length. Measure carefully all around and pin the hem with straight pins inserted vertically.
Step 3 - Press
Press the hem to make sure it lies flat. You will want the hem to be flat and sitting correctly because it will not have the additional turnover at the top as a double-fold hem would have. A single fold hem is usually a narrower hem than a double fold.
Press with a presser cloth flat along the edge. This is a different technique from an ironing process. The pressing should be with a flat pressing action, not ironing from side to side action. Make sure you have removed the pins so the fabric is flat and pin marks will not be evident.
Step 4 - Stitch
Stitch the hem. There are 2 different ways to stitch a single-fold hem including machine stitching or hand stitching. Machine-stitching is quicker but more visible. Hand stitching takes longer, but the finished look is neater.
Here are some different suggestions for stitching your single fold hem. The choice of stitch will depend on the type of fabric and the finished look you want on the front of the garment. Time is another factor, keeping in mind that machine stitching is much quicker.
Machine Stitching a Single Fold Hem
Choose a machine stitch and check your sewing machine tension before starting. A stitch that pulls and puckers will not finish the hem professionally. If you neatened with a serger, then stitch in the middle of the serger stitching space. This will add to the strength of the machine stitching. Practice on scrap and get the tension right before you start.
Hand Stitching a Single Fold Hem
The best hem stitching is a blind hem stitch or a slip stitch. Catch part of the neatened edge and the fabric using a matching thread for a neat finish. The stitching will work at the back of the garment.
- Start with a knot between the hem and the wrong side of the fabric.
- When your thread is secure, pull your sewing needle towards you.
- Pick up a few threads in the fabric just beneath the edge stitch of the single fold hem.
- Then insert the needle through the serged or neatened edge stitch and pull through towards yourself.
- Continue stitching in this way, leaving a small space between each stitch. Remember, there is no fold to slip your needle and thread through. The loops of the serger, if you use one, will provide the threads to use for the slip stitching.
Catch stitch also makes a firm hand-stitched hemming stitch and can be done without neatening the raw edge.
Decorative Stitching a Single Fold Hem
Modern machines have many different decorative stitches available. Try out other wavy lines and zigzag stitches in various thread colors for some exciting ideas.
Single Fold Hem - Tips
Gadgets never go out of fashion. Look for a seam gauge. It is really a time saver. Use the seam gauge to pin your seam at a consistent edge height. A turning of ⅜ to ⅝ inch (1cm to 1.5cm) is a recommended standard hem width.
Set the hem at the width you want, then use the edge of the sewing machine foot and markings on the plate guide of the machine to gauge straight sewing
Make your Own Gauge for a Single Fold Hem
It’s straightforward and so practical to make your own hem gauge. All you need is a piece of solid card. Find a piece of card about 12 x 8 inches (30 x 20cms). Use a ruler (a quilters perspex ruler is a good choice) and measure a series of lines to draw along the length of the card. Space these lines out at the usual distances for your hem - The ⅝ inch (1.5cm) little turn up or the wider hem at 1 ½ inches (4cm).
- When you are ready with the neatened edge of your single fold hem, lay the fabric right sides down on your ironing board and place the card on top of the material with the neatened edge showing out from under the card.
- Fold the edge over the card to meet the line of your choice. That is your hem measurement.
- Press down on the fabric to crease the hem, and there you have it – a neat, equally measured hem, ready to sew.
Alternatives to a Single Fold Hem
The main alternative to the single fold hem is the double fold hem, where the hem is pressed over twice. This gives a neat folded edge with no raw edges showing. The only disadvantage of the double fold hem is that it adds bulk to the hem and stiffness that you don't have in single fold hems.
Single Fold Hem - In Conclusion
A single fold hem works beautifully on a lined garment. It hangs neatly, and the lining hangs over the hem as the final neatening. It really does an excellent job of finishing off a pair of long pants as it enables the hem to drop lightly into place and eliminates unsightly bulk. The single fold hem may be considered a beginner's technique, but it is one of those processes that will be useful for the sewing newbie and the more experienced seamstress.
More on 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
- RUFFLED HEMS – Lettuce Hems
- KNIT FABRIC HEMS – How to Hem Knit Fabric
- KNIT HEMS – Twin Needle
- SQUARE HEMS – How to Sew Mitered Corners
- SCALLOPED HEMS – Scalloped Edges Hems
- PANTS HEMS – How to Hem Pants
- DOUBLE HEM – Double Fold Hem
- HEMMING TAPE (NO SEW) How to use Hemming Tape
- HAND STITCH HEMS – Hemming Stitch – Best Hand Stitches for Hems
- HAND HEM – How to Sew Catch Stitch Easily
- SINGLE HEM - How to Sew a Single Fold Hem