Basic Construction--Putting in Hems

A hem finishes the bottom edge of a shirt, jacket, sleeve, skirt, or pants leg. Hem lengths follow fashion trends, but a length that flatters body proportions is best.

A well-made hem should not be noticeable.

Stitches should not show on the outside of the garment, and the hem edge should be flat and smooth. In addition, the garment should hang evenly around your body.

Hems can be an important part of the garment design. A decorative binding or topstitching adds special interest to a hemline.

Hems are made in ways that depend on the garment's fabric and design. Turning the raw edge of fabric to the inside of the garment, how ever, is the most common way to make a hem.

The edge of the hem is held in place by hand stitching, machine stitching, or fusing. To finish a hem, follow these four basic steps:

1. Mark the hem length.

2. Turn up the hem.

3. Finish the hem edge.

4. Attach the hem to the garment.


Your garment should hang on a hanger for at least 24 hours before the hem is marked. This allows any bias areas of the garment to stretch and prevents the hemline from sagging. Put on the garment with the clothes and shoes to be worn with it. Fasten all openings and any belt.

Stand in normal posture with your weight on both feet. For complete accuracy, have someone else mark the hem for you. You should remain standing still, and the person doing the marking should move around you.

Skirts and dresses. Use a yardstick, meter stick, or skirt marker. Be sure to keep the marker at a right angle to the floor. Place pins or mark with chalk every 3 or 4 inches (7.5 or 10 cm) around the hemline. Turn the hem to the inside along markings and pin to check the length. Readjust if necessary. See Ill. 1.

Pants. Fold the fabric edge under and pin. The front of pants should just touch the top of the shoe; the back should be about 1/2” (1.3 cm) longer than the top of the shoe. See Ill. 1.

Jackets. Fold the fabric under along the hemline markings and pin. Adjust the length according to body proportions. Be sure the hem is even around the entire body.

Sleeves. Bend the arm so the hand is in the center of the waistline. Fold the sleeve edge under until it just covers the wrist bone. Pin in place.

== Wiki Sewing ==

Blind Stitch

A blind stitch is a hidden stitch that can only be found by pulling back the fabric to find the stitching. It's sewn with a catch-stitch or slipstitch, away from the edge of the hem, which prevents the edge of the hem from "denting" the fabric. This is especially important when using bulky fabrics.

1. Fold the body of the garment back on itself, right sides together, to meet the inside edge of the hem. Do not press the body of the hem back-just give it a gentle rollback so that you can keep the hand stitching directly across from the stitches you'll be making on the hem.

2. As you stitch from the right to the left, catch just a couple of threads of the fabric on the body of the garment and on the hem. Your goal is to have as little stitching as possible show on the inside and on the outside of the garment while the stitching holds the hem in place.

TIP----Thick Fabric: Hiding hem stitches made in heavy fabric is easy when you guide the thread through the fibers rather than between the fibers that makes up the fabric.

<<== Wiki Sewing cont. ==>>


After the hemline is marked, the hem must be trimmed to the proper width and any extra fullness eliminated.

Pinning Hems 1

Trimming Hem Width

Your pattern recommends the proper width for the finished hem. Most hems are 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) wide. This gives added weight to the hemline and helps it fall evenly.

The width of the hem, however, depends on the flare of the garment and the fabric weight. A curved edge takes a narrower hem than a straight edge. Knitted and heavier weight fabrics may have a narrower hem too. Sheer fabrics usually have a narrow rolled hem or a very deep hem.

To trim hem width, follow these steps:

1. Fold the hem up along the marked line.

2. Measure an even distance from the folded edge with a sewing gauge or small ruler.

3. Mark the desired hem width with chalk. See Ill. 2.

4. Trim away any excess fabric.

5. Remove any pins and lightly press the fold of the hem.

Eliminating Hem Fullness

If the garment is flared, the turned-up hem will be wider at the upper edge than the garment.

Follow these steps to ease this fullness in to fit flat against the garment:

1. Machine-baste 1/4” (6 mm) from the hem's upper edge.

2. Turn the hem up and pin at each seam and at the center.

3. Use a pin to pick up a stitch of the bobbin thread.

See Ill. 3.

Gently pull the thread toward a seam to ease in extra fabric.

4. Press the hem allowance to shrink out the fullness.

On fabrics that can't be eased, remove the extra fullness by tapering the seam line below the hem. See Ill. 4. Take the same amount off each seam. Remove the original stitching and trim the seam allowances to remove bulk. Press the seam open.


The hem finish depends on the fabric and the garment. The same finishes used for seams can also be used for hems. (See the seam finishes) If the fabric ravels, a finish that prevents this problem is needed. Most knits don't need a finish.

If you want to cover the edge of the hem, you can use seam tape, bias tape, lace, or other decorative trim.

• Machine zigzag finish. Used for all fabric weights. Zigzag close to the fabric edge or serge the edge with a serger stitch. See Ill. 5.

Marking Hem Width 2 Easing in Hem Fullness 3 Tapering Seam Allowance 4 Machine Zigzag Hem Finish 5

• Seam tape, bias tape, or lace finish. Used on all fabrics. Place the tape or trim 1/4” (6 mm) over the raw edge and stitch, overlapping the ends. See Ill. 6.

• Pinked finish. Used for more firmly woven fabrics. Pink the edge or stitch 1/4” (6 mm) from the edge and then pink. See Ill. 7.

• Hemmed finish. Used for lightweight to medium-weight fabrics. Turn the raw edge under 1/4” (6 mm) and stitch. See Ill. 8.

||| Serging Techniques |||


The serger can finish the raw edge of a hem that will be stitched to the garment by hand or machine.

1. Plan the hem allowance with at least 1/16” (1.2 mm) of extra fabric that can be trimmed off during serging.

2. Serge along the raw edge of the hem allowance. Secure the thread chains.

3. Complete the hem by folding up the hem allowance and hand stitch or topstitch on the conventional machine.

The serger can be used to make a hem with a "raw edge" look. The serger stitches will keep the fabric from raveling.

1. Plan the hem allowance with a least 1/2” (1.3 cm) of extra fabric that can be trimmed off during serging.

2. Serge along the hemline with the garment right side up and secure the thread chains.

Hemline 1/2” (1.3 cm)


The hem can be attached to the garment by hand stitching, machine stitching, or fusing. Each method has advantages and disadvantages.

Hand-Stitching a Hem

To hem by hand, use a single thread. Make sure the stitches don't show on the outside of the garment. Keep the stitches slightly loose so the fabric doesn't pull or ripple. (See specific directions on different stitches.)

• Blindstitch. Used with all fabrics and hem finishes. This stitch shows less than others and allows for movement without pulling.

Seam Tape Hem Finish 6, Pinked Hem Finish 7, Hemmed Finish 8

• Hemming stitch. Used to stitch a hem with seam tape or lace finish.

• Catchstitch. Good for hemming knits and stretch fabrics. This stitch can be done at the hem edge or as a blind catchstitch inside the hem.

• Slip stitch. Used to join a folded edge, such as a hemmed finish, to the garment. This stitch is excellent for narrow, hand-rolled hems.

Machine-Stitching a Hem

Machine stitching can be used for both invisible and decorative stitching. It's a fast, easy way to complete a garment or other sewing project.

Some machines have a built-in blindstitch.

Fold the garment back 1/4” (6 mm) below the hem edge. Machine-stitch so the straight stitches fall on the hem allowance and single zigzag stitches just catch the garment along the fold line. See Ill. 9.

Topstitching can attach the hem and decorate the garment at the same time. Fold the hem to the desired width. For woven fabrics, turn the raw edge under 3/8” (1 cm) and press. Stitch close to the upper edge. Knitted fabrics can be stitched single thickness and then trimmed close to the stitching. Use two or more rows of stitching for a more decorative finish. Be sure to keep the rows straight and parallel. See Ill. 10.

Built-In Blindstitch 9

Attaching Hem with Topstitch 10

Fusing a Hem

With fusible web, you can hold two layers of fabric together for hemming. Place fusible web between the garment and hem about 1/4” (6 mm) below the top of the hem. This helps pre vent the hem outline from showing on the garment's right side. Also, it keeps any web from accidentally touching the iron and sticking to it.

Press to fuse, following the manufacturer's directions. See Ill. 11.

To alter a fused hem, press the area with steam until the two fabric layers can be gently pulled apart.

||||||||| Serging Techniques ||||||||||||||

Rolled Hem

The serger can roll fabric to the underside as a hem is stitched, creating a professional appearance. The lower looper tension is tightened to produce the rolled edge.

1. Plan at least a 1/2-inch (1.3-cm) hem allowance.

2. Do a test swatch and adjust tension settings until the hem rolls properly. Tighten the lower looper tension and loosen the upper looper tension if the lower looper thread forms large loops on the underside.

Upper looper thread Lower looper thread Needle thread Needle thread

Cover-Stitch Hem

Some sergers can make a cover stitch. This stitch uses one looper and two or three needle threads. The needle threads create parallel rows on one side of the fabric. The other side has a more decorative look because the looper thread interlocks between the needle threads. You can decide which look you want on the outside of the fabric.

1. Plan at least a 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) hem allowance. See Step 1 for rolled hems.

2. Fold the fabric up along the hemline and press.

3. Position the hem under the presser foot so that the folded edge of the fabric is to the right of the needles and the raw edge of the hem allowance will be caught in the stitch.

Looper Thread Cover Needle Thread


Some hems require special hemming techniques. These include a rolled hem, a faced hem, and a hem with a pleat.

Rolled Hem

A narrow, rolled hem works well on lightweight to medium-weight fabrics. Use it to hem scarves, ruffles, sashes, blouses, evening clothes, lingerie, tablecloths, napkins, and curtains. The hem can be stitched by hand or machine as described in the steps that follow.

Hand-Rolled Hem

1. Machine-stitch 1/4” (6 mm) from the raw edge and trim close to the stitching.

2. Roll the edge between your thumb and forefinger until the stitching is concealed.

Fusing a Hem 11; Slip-Stitching Hand-Rolled Hem 12

3. Slip-stitch the hem in place, completing one small section at a time. See Ill. 12.

Machine-Rolled Hem

1. Mark the hemline 1/8” (3 mm) longer than the desired finished length. Fold the fabric up along the hemline. Don't press.

2. Stitch as close as you can to the fold. Trim the hem allowance close to the stitching, using embroidery scissors.

3. Press the hem allowance up along the stitching line. See Ill. 14. As you press, roll the stitching line just to the inside of the garment.

4. Stitch again close to the first fold.

Faced Hem

When there's not enough fabric for the hem allowance, a hem may be faced. Facings are also used when the hem edge is an unusual shape, such as scallops, or the fabric is very heavy or bulky. Purchase bias hem facing or cut your own fabric facing and follow these steps:

1. Pin the facing to the garment, with right sides together and ends overlapped.

2. Stitch a 1/4-inch (6-mm) seam.

3. Turn the facing to the inside of the garment and slip-stitch in place. See Ill. 16.

Hem with Pleat This technique helps create sharp pleats:

1. Clip the seam allowance above the hem area.

2. Press the seam allowance open below the clip and trim to reduce bulk. See Ill. 17.

3. Complete the hem.

4. Press the pleat with the seam on the fold edge.

5. Edgestitch along the fold through all thick nesses of the hem. See Ill. 18.

Trimming Hem Allowance 13; Pressing Hem Allowance 14; Stitching Again 15; Slip-Stitching Faced Hem 16; Clipped and Trimmed Seam 17; Edgestitching Hem with Pleat 18

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Wednesday, 2012-04-11 15:19