Hemstitching : How to do this ornamental hem finish


Hemstitching is a beautiful way to finish the hem. It uses the drawn thread embroidery work to sew the hem and is a popular hem used in many vintage clothes and linen. You can easily use it on your napkins, towels, and handkerchiefs and hem of dresses, skirts, kid’s frocks, scarves etc.

To do hemstitching, first the the edge of the fabric is turned to the back and folded twice. Press it there in place. You can pin this here or baste stitch in place.

Fabric edges turned inside and baste stitched
Turn the edges of the fabric to be hemstitched to the inside; baste stitch in place

Now draw out the threads above the folded edge. I have cut 10 horizontal threads (one each) with the seam ripper and then pulled the threads out.

Threads taken out from the fabric just above the fold of the hem
Take out threads from just above the fold of the hem

Pull 10 to 12 horizontal thread from above the folded edge, leaving the vertical threads intact. Usually a space of 1/4 inch or even  1/8 inch is made this way. 

Now stitches are made gathering a bunch of vertical threads together on the space you have made.

Simple hemstitching

In this method, a bunch of vertical threads on the drawn out space are gathered and tied with thread, near the folded edge, even as you stitch the hem.

Work this stitch like this –

Bring up the needle from under the folded edge as in the picture below.

Needle brought from inside the fold

Come down and take up 6 threads or so, under the needle.

Take up 5 or 6 thread from the removed area

Bring up the needle and then bring it down.

When you tighten the thread (a little) the threads are tied.

Then you go on to the next stitch – do the same thing again.

ie, again bring up the needle from under the folded edge, as you did earlier, a little (1/2″ or so) away from the first stitch. 

Needle brought up from under the fold of the hem
Take one stitch up from under the fold

Do the loop as you did earlier.

Continue the stitch as before

Continue in this manner. 


On the other side, the hemstitching will look like this.

The look of hemstitching on the fabric surface

Double hemstitching


This hemstitching has the single hemstitching on one side and another hemstitching on the other edge of the drawn thread space. This ties are not taken through the fabric – the needle is simply taken through the already gathered threads as in the picture below.

An extra stitch made on top after the single hemstiching is done

Machine stitched hemstitching.

You can get a simple hemstitching effect with a sewing machine. Use wing needles and do decorative stitches – your fabric will get a drawn thread embroidery look that you painstakingly make by hand, very easily.

Related posts: How to sew hem : with sewing machine ; How to sew hem : by hand;  Drawn thread embroidery

drawn thread embroidery

Pulled thread embroidery

pulled thread

How to embroider clothes.; 60+ Hand embroidery techniques

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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.

3 thoughts on “Hemstitching : How to do this ornamental hem finish”

  1. Sarina, Thank you for this post on hemstitching. I’ve often wondered how this beautiful detailing is achieved in linen napkins, and now I know. So thrilled to have found your blog! ~Le

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