How to hand sew a hem (18 ways)

Learn about the different ways to make a hand made hem with hand sewing stitches. 16 types of hemming stitches to make your hem look perfect.

hemming stitches

I cherish a well-stitched hem. It is the qualifying signature of a well-made garment.  If it is a hand-sewn hem, all the better.

True that a hand-stitched hem takes a bit more (?) time and patience than a quick machine-made hem. But if you have sewn your dress lovingly with care, you could do well with a little more patience and make that perfect hand made hem.

All the things that are mentioned in the post on 20 ways to stitch a machine made hem stands true here as well. When sewing thin or drapey fabrics do not forget to interface the area. 

The hand made hemming stitches should be made with a single strand of thread. The test of a hand sewn hem is its near invisibility and even stitching. However in some cases like a braided hem this is not so true. Other than the practical purpose of a hem in finishing the edges,  some of the hand sewn hems serve as beautiful decorative elements too

18 ways to hand sew a hem

1. Ordinary turned under hem with whip stitch

Ordinary turned under hem with whip stitch

Even, slightly slanted whip stitches are used to stitch, turned under edges of the fabric to make an ordinary hem. Stitches are made very small so that almost nothing of the thread (or as little as possible) shows on the right side of the garment.Just 1 or 2 thread from the front fabric is taken so that the hemming stitch looks invisible

Whip stitches made on the hem

Then small slanting stitches are made on the folded edge

invisible hemming stitch
invisble whip stitch

2.Blind hem

This is an almost invisible hem stitching . Basically you make small stitches between the folded edge and the garment on the back of the garment with just a one thread width of stitch showing up on the right side of the garment.

Checkout the tutorial to make a blind hem finish by hand and by sewing machine. 

hem stitch which is invisible

3. Slip Stitch hem

This is another invisible hem stitch and the best option when sewing sheer fabrics or thin and lightweight fabrics. This stitch is made with the needle slipping inside the fold of the fabric edge in between stitches, then going on to catch one single thread from the fold and the right side of the fabric together.Check out the tutorial for a slip stitch here

slip hem stitches

4. Couch Stitch

Vertical stitches are made inside the garment. The needle catches a single or two thread from the right side of the garment, then goes under the fold making a straight stitch on the fold. 

5.Bar Tacked hem

In case of a very bulky fabric or you do not want a line of hem stitches on the right side of the garment, you can bar tack (by hand or by machine) the hem to the seam allowances, at regular intervals. For extra strength Stitch in the ditch on all side seams of the hem to firmly anchor the hem. A bar tack stitch refers to a number of small stitches made closely together to make a thick straight bar. Learn more about making bartacks here

6. Catch stitch hem (Herringbone stitch)

This hem uses herringbone stitches inside the garment to catch the hem and the garment . As the herringbone stitches give some stretch and flexibility to the hem, this is great to be used on sewing hems in knits. 

herringbone stitch used for hemming by hand

7.Blanket stitched hem

A hand stitched blanket stitch is used in the hem to finish the edges and hem. On the right side of the garment the stitches will show up as straight stitches.  Another attractive look is given to the back of the hem using graded blanket stitches. The thread is passed through the folds of the turned under edge in between stitches.

Checkout this post on 11 variations of the blanket stitches

blanket stitches used as hemming stitches

8. Shell edge hem

This is a beautiful finish for your hem. This edge stitch can be applied to the hem by hand. This edging creates little scallops on the edge of the fabric. Checkout this post on making a shell edge finish.

how to sew a shell edge

9. Rolled  hem 

The fabric edge is rolled twice about 1/8 inches to the inside and decorative stitches are done around the edges. You could do buttonhole stitches or whipped stitches over the edges.

rolled hem  by hand stitches

10. Picot edged hem

Checkout the post on picot edge.

picot edge

11. Scalloped hem 

Buttonhole stitches (Close blanket stitches) or blanket stitches are used in a graded fashion on already marked scallop shapes on the edges. After working the stitches, the fabric is cut away carefully. Sometimes a line of chain stitches is done on the edges, especially if you want a raised effect. Learn more about making scalloped edges here

scalloped edges used on the hem

12. Braided hem

This hem involves thread stitched onto the already finished hem and braided to form an ornamental edging for a hem. Many types of braids are used on the edges like Antwerp stitch or Armenian stitch. Needlepoint is another braided hem finish you can use on your hems.

braided hem stitch

To make this hem you first have to finish the edge with a zig zag or other edge finishes and create loops around the edges.

how to do a braided stitch on the hem

 13. Fringed hem

To make this edge on the hem,  a line of decorative hand stitching is done parallel to the edge. The distance from the raw edge of the fabric to the stitching line will be the length of the fringe. The thread which is parallel to the edges is removed ( warp threads ) one by one till the stitching line. The fabric above the stitching line will not unravel. The weft thread will form the fringe.

When making long fringes you will have to be careful that the threads of the fringes are not tangled. The fringes can be twisted to form ornamental braids as seen in the shawl below.

fringes of thread used on the hem

You can add ribbon fringes to the edges as well. Learn more about making fringes here

14. Tasseled edges on hem

This hem is achieved by adding separate tassel threads to the hem as is described in this post on making sari tassels. You can make tassels following this tutorial to make 6 types of tassels 

make a tassel
beaded tassels - hem

15. Beaded hem

In this hem, beads are attached to hem using needle and thread. This is a nice finish to sleeve hems and scarf hems.

small round beads stitched on the hem with hemming stitches

Checkout this post on the different types of beaded tassels and beaded edges you can make  on your hem.

bead tassels

16.  Pin hem

pin hem

This is a beautiful hem in which small holes are formed along the hem in a decorative line made with a thick needle. This hem is usually done in thin fabrics and is popularly used for household linens

Thread two strands of embroidery floss on a thick needle/wing needle. Fold the edge to the inside twice. Come up from the fold of the fabric effectively hiding the knot inside the fold and take a stitch just under the fold to the left 3-4 threads.

stitch the hem with a thick needle to make the pin stitches

Return to the same hole as earlier and come back up. This will make a stitch there; slightly tighten the thread so that two holes are made big on either side of the stitch

tighten the thread as you make the pin stitches

Now go back under the fold ; then repeat the above steps.

pin hem
pin stitch hem

Learn more ways to do a pin stitch here.

17. Crochet edged hem

Crocheting the edges of your garment will create a beautiful hem. Even if you do not know crochet you can have a crochet edge hem by using a blanket stitch to attach a crochet lace to your hem.

Before crocheting the edge you may have to finish the fabric edge with a serged finish or a rolled hem.

crotchet hem used as hemming stitches

You can make crochet like edges along your hem without knowing crochet – check out this post – 8 decorative edge stitches for more details on this

decorative edges


18. Hemstitched hem

This hand stitched hem has drawn thread incorporated along with the hem.You can check out this post on hemstitching here for more details about this hem.

decorative emstitch

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

4 thoughts on “How to hand sew a hem (18 ways)”

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