How to hem ?
All edges of your dress be it a shirt, skirt, pants needs to be hemmed, unless you are going for the selvedge look or the frayed hem look.
Basically I love sewing hems by hand but sewing hems by machine is very convenient and FAST.
Checkout the post on 16 different ways in which you can hand sew a hem
Table of Contents
9 important things to consider when you hem
- Sew the hem after all other stitching is done. ( Unless you have pleats in which case you had better hem and then pleat.)
- Mark accurately. As they say mark twice and cut once. If you cut a little extra it is simply impossible to recover. If you have a bit of extra hem you can again take it out . But what would you do if you do not have enough. So be careful.
- If you are using lining, cut it atleast 1 inch shorter than the main fabric.
- All the experts advice not to complete the hem on the same day you have created the dress. Let it hang overnight or for a day for the stretch of the fabric to do its job. Then hem. Otherwise your fabric may hang uneven.
- It is ideal if you wear the dress and see where you want the hemline. Most perfect if you have an assistant (like my daughter ?) to exactly mark the hemline. I would advice you to take it off from your body and then continue marking the rest of the hemline by measuring from the top. Otherwise there is a chance of it looking wonky. That is what I feel. May be you have success marking the whole thing when worn.
- Finish the edge of the fabric by any of the edge finishes – Pinking , overlock, zigzag, piping, lace trim or tape. Check out this post on fabric edge finishes
- When the fabric edge is more than the hem line , for eg. like in an A line silhouette or a circle skirt, you will need to ease the fullness of the fabric edge to match the hemline width. Sew a line of basting stitch along the fabric edge. Pull the basting thread till the edge matches the hem fold line. You can alternatively sew a narrow rolled hem to avoid going to this extra steps.
- If you are altering an existing hem, unpick the old stitches , remove all the old thread from the fabric ( this is important for a clean, professional look) . Iron open the folds. Now mark the new hem.
- A ready made template made of a cardboard is great to mark hems. Cut out a template which is two inches wide and mark at 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch widths and even i inch and 2 inch.This makes a great template to press up hems.
Width of the hem
You can either have a wide hem or a narrow hem
For a wide hem, you can go as much as 3 ” – 8″ for skirts and dresses. To sew a wide hem on curved edge you will have to go in for a faced hem or easing the edges with a gathering / basting stitch. Narrow hem is best suited for thin and delicate fabrics, especially the rolled hem with a rolling foot.
How to mark the hem?
Decide where you want the hem to be. Mark it by using a basting stitch or pin inserted horizontally every few inches , pin should be inserted just above where you want the hem to be. Press.
How to mark the hem of pants?
If you are hemming pants you have to decide ( fold there) the hem line at four points – center front,center back, inseam and side seam. Just above these points place the pins. Press. Trim the hem allowance. A good length for pants is said to be 2 cm from the floor when wearing shoes.
How to interface the hem?
Cut a 1″ hem allowance. Use a 3/4 inch interfacing strip. Place it 1/4 inch from the edge of the fabric. Fuse it there. ( You may have to clip the interfacing in places if it is a curved hem) Fold up the interfaced hem. If you stitch in the ditch of the seams it will anchor the interfacing more.
Types of hems
1.Top Stitched hem
Top Stitched hem once turned – This is the most commonly used machine stitched hem. You should finish the edges with zig zag, overlock or by pinking.
Top Stitched hem twice turned – Another very commonly used hem. This machine stitched hem involves first turning the edge once by 1/4 ” then turning for the width of the hem. This is top stitched with a straight stitch.
2.Top Stitched hem with twin needle stitching
This is done with a double needle inserted and simulates a coverstitching as done by the cover stitch machine ( What you see on store bought tshirts) .
Remember to change your straight needle plate if you have that on the sewing machine; you need a zig zag needle plate, as a zigzag stitch is formed at the back of the cloth when you use this method. Now you can make two perfectly spaced rows of top stitching done along the hem. Checkout the detailed post on double needle stitching.
This is done using the narrow hemming foot. This foot automatically takes in the fabric edge and folds it into a double fold roll which measures 1/8″. This is the best hem for chiffon and other lightweight fabrics. Even medium weight fabrics can be hemmed with this one.
Works best on hemming my shawls. What I would do with those fiicky georgette dupattas if it was not for this foot, I don’t know.
Check out this video on how to use the narrow hemming foot.
4. Narrow False Piped hem
This is a hem used to sew the edge of very delicate and thin fabrics as well as crisp fabrics. it is used instead of the rolled edge. A piping effect is formed at the edge. To make this stitch the edge is turned once first by 1/4″ to the right side of the fabric and then again turn 1/4 inch to the right side. you can use the hem template for this. Now stitch through the middle of this fold with a straight stitch. Turn the hem to the other side. Press. Stitch again. Now you have a false piping on the edge.
5.Faced hem/ False hem
This is basically a facing sewn to the edge of the hemline. In this hem you sew a similarly shaped piece of fabric to the edge of the hem.
A 2 1/2 inch wide strip cut on the bias is used to create the facing for the hem. 1/4 inch seam allowance is used to stitch this to the fabric edge.This facing piece is kept on the fabric right sides together.
This hem technique is especially useful when sewing curved hem edges of dresses and skirts. By using this hem you can have a wide hem on curved edges.You may need to steam press to ease the facing a little.
Imagine a situation where you find that you have cut the hemline a little too short. Faced hem is the solution here. you can use another piece of the same fabric to compensate for the hem turning.
This is also called a false hem as it uses a different fabric to turn under and make the hem.
A Shaped hem is cut on the same grain and pattern as the garment. With this hem you can make features like a Scalloped hem or even a zig zag hem.
A blind hem is very aptly named – you will not be able to see it from the right side of the fabric. This is a very apt hem finish for pants. A little difficult t o learn but once you learn if you will be using this one over and over. Checkout this detailed tutorial to a blind hem stitch by machine and by hand
Piping brings a very attractive detail to the hem of your garment. I love a piping in contrasting colour on the hem of my blouses. You use a zipper foot to sew the piping to the hem , then add a facing to finish the hem.
Convex is a pattern which turns outside. For hems having a convex shape, a faced hem is the best bet. You will have to trim the seam allowance to 1/4″ and clip every one inch small notches.Other wise when you turn the facing inside you will not get a smooth turning. Ensure that you are not clipping through the seam line.
9.Picot edged hem
A Picot stitch is used to make this hem along sheer and delicate materials like chiffon or Georgette. It is made with a zig zag stitch and the narrow rolled hem foot. This is usually used as a substitute for the narrow rolled hem. Checkout this post on how to sew a picot stitch
10.Frilled/ pleated hem
11. Horse hair braid hem
The horse hair braid is a flat nylon braid which is very stiff and springy. It is used to stiffen the hem of a full skirt. They come in different widths. This braid is kept on the garment right sides together, then once the edge is sewn the braid is turned to the inside.
If you are lining the skirt it is easier and looks much better. The hem is turned under and then the horse hair braid is sewn to the lining.
It has a thread for drawing it up to ease it, if you need to. You can hem the braid to the garment by hand stitching.
12. Baby Hem
This is the most suitable hem for lightweight clothes and sheer fabrics. Turn under the edge by 1/4 inch first. Trim away fabric very close below the stitching line. Turn this edge to wrong side again, folding on stitching line and top-stitch on right side, 1/8″ from fold. This will give you a very narrow folded hem
13. Serged hem
The fabric edges are serged and left it at that.
14. Fringed hem
This creates a fringe on the hem from the loose threads of the garment edge. To make this hem, you have to sew a line of stitching ( either a straight line or a fancy stitch ) just above the hem edge ; this is done so that the edges would not fray beyond a point. You donot want the whole garment unravelled. After the stitching, weft threads ( those running horizontally in a fabric weave) are taken out leaving the warp threads ( vertical threads in a fabric) hanging down making a nice fringed hem
15. Fabric trim hem
Lace, ric rac and other fabric trims are attached to the hem on the raw edge. Checkout this post on different fabric trims
To attach the fabric trims, keep the trim on top of the garment right sides together, stitch along the raw edge. Flip it down and top stitch in place
16. Machine embroidery hem
This hem technique uses zig zag stitches to make scallops or straight satin stitches on the edge of the hem. This is a beautiful hem and is used mostly in children’s clothing and nightwear. You have to use interfacing to the back of the fabric when stitching the embroidery stitches. The fabric beyond the stitches are cut away carefully
17. Shell edge hem
A shell edge finish is made using the sewing machine on the hem.
18. Rolled edge hem
The rolled edge foot is used along with a zig zag finish to make this hem. This is a good hem to use for circle skirts
19. Seam binding hem
This is mostly used for ravelling fabrics. A store bought seam binding tape ( 1″ – 3″) is used on the hem
20 Lettuce edged hem
This creates a frilly edge to the hem of a knit fabric . An overcast stitch used on a stretched edge of a knit fabric will make this attractive wavy edge to the hem