When sewing, you want the piece that you are creating to look beautiful and unique. One way to ensure this is to finish off your project with a beautiful hem that showcases a specific style. As you learn to sew more and more, you can branch out by sewing a variety of hems for different looks.
Depending on the garment that you are making, as well as the style that it will have and the fabric you are using, you may want to choose a specific type of hem. In this article, we will cover many of the types of hems to choose from, as well as how to create a hem whether you are using a sewing machine or sewing by hand.
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Types of Hems
Not all hems are created equally! When sewing a new garment, certain hems will lend themselves more naturally to look appealing depending on the article of clothing you are sewing and the fabric you are using. Hems, which are the edge of a piece of fabric, differs from a seam, which is the joining of two or more pieces of fabric. Some hems may be easier for beginners, while others take more practice. The hem you use will give your item a specific look that may be more simplistic or more elegant or fun, depending on what you choose. Below is a list of a variety of hems that you may decide to do on your next sewing project.
Single Fold Hem
A single fold hem is one of the most basic and easiest hems to sew. Its name is straightforward in explaining what this hem is, which is turning in the fabric with one fold and stitching it in place. This hem is better used on thicker and heavier fabrics that will stay in place with only a single fold, whereas a double layer would make them too bulky. Some materials and articles of clothing that will benefit from a single fold hem are sweatshirts, coats, and trousers.
To make a single fold hem, you want to start by determining how much of the fabric you want to fold in. You may use a zig-zag stitch or overlock stitch along the bottom of the fabric to keep it in place. To stop and prevent the fabric from fraying, you need to stitch right along the very edge of your fabric. Next, turn up your hem and press to keep it in place. You can easily sew by hand for this hem, or use a sewing machine to complete the hem faster.
Double Fold Hem
A double fold hem, similarly to a single fold hem, explains what it is just by its name! A double fold hem is typically used more often than a single fold hem since it better helps to enclose the raw edge of the fabric. This hem may be more difficult to successfully achieve with heavier, thicker fabrics since it will create a lot more bulk.
The double fold hem is one of the most basic hems out there and therefore is a useful hem to know how to sew for a neat, finished hemline. This hem is useful for hemming garments such as the bottom of a skirt, pants, jacket, or shirt. It is a hem that works better on lighter materials, though a double hem with a wider double fold will work well on heavier fabrics like curtains and pant legs to make them fold a specific way. Due to its simplicity, this hem also works best on flat, square, or rectangular items such as curtains, tablecloths, blankets, and napkins.
Just like creating a single fold hem, to start a double fold hem you will want to fold the bottom of the fabric to the wrong side, yet this time you will want to fold the fabric in one more time before pinning it in place. Next, press the fabric and then start to sew your hem by hand or with a machine.
A rolled hem can also be sewed by hand or on a machine, typically using lightweight fabric since it is more intricate and requires much smaller folds. A rolled hem gives no visible fabric edge since it is rolled away to the inside of the hem, and creates a more elegant and professional finish on your project. Silk or sheer fabric are great choices for this type of hem, and it is a beautiful hem to use on a scarf or dress.
Similarly to a double fold hem, the rolled hem is made up of two folds. But, unlike the double fold hem, a rolled hem is a very small hem that can be a bit more tricky to sew. Though many sewing machines have a rolled hem foot which curves and folds the fabric as you sew that you may choose to use to create this hem, let’s walk through how to create this hem more manually.
First, you will need to stitch a straight line 1/4″ smaller from the desired hem allowance. Next, fold the stitch line to the wrong side of the fabric and press with an iron. You then will need to return your fabric back to the sewing machine to stitch directly on top of the first stitch line with the inside facing up.
Now, press the hem with the iron once more, keeping in mind to use the appropriate heat and a pressing cloth if necessary depending on the type of fabric that you are hemming. Trim the extra fabric right up to the stitch line and fold the hem again, rolling the stitching to the wrong side and leaving a clean, unstitched seam on the right side of the fabric. Lastly, stitch directly on top of the stitches on the inside, and repress the entire hem to finish off your professional rolled hem.
A blind hem gets its name for being almost invisible when finished. Like the rolled hem, you can use a special blind hem sewing machine foot on your sewing machine to complete this clean looking hem. Blind hems are a great way to create a deep hem on pants, a skirt, or a jacket.
You need to make sure that you have enough seam allowance to create this hem, since it is a fairly deep hem.
First, you will need to figure out where you’d like your hem to fall, and mark it clearly on your fabric. Next, mark two more lines of equal distance above and below your marked hem, however deep you want your hem to be. For example, for a two-inch hem, you will want to mark two inches above and two inches below your hemline. If necessary, you can trim the extra fabric from the raw edge of the hem.
Now, you will need to turn the raw edge over and press, basically folding it in half so that the raw edge hits the bottom drawn line on your fabric. Next, pinch along the middle line and fold along the line, matching up the top and bottom lines together and pinning in place. Fold again, upwards, and pin in place again (or repin). Lightly press the folds and remove the pins. Put the blind hem presser foot on your sewing machine (if you have one) and set your machine to the blind hem stitch. Lower the presser foot onto the wrong side of the fabric and stitch slowly. Give the hem a press, and admire your lovely blind hem!
A pin hem is similar to a rolled pin in that it works best on lovely lightweight or sheer fabrics like silk or chiffon, and is a great option for a garment such as a circle skirt, or for creating a beautifully draped neckline on a dress or shirt made of a material such as silk. The pin hem is a very fine hem, which can be as narrow as a pin. This means that it doesn’t work well on thicker fabrics since it is tricky to turn under, stitch and press such a thick fabric so narrowly, and will just end up looking messy and bulky.
To begin, sew your first line with the right side up and sew all the way along the hem at 1.25 cm / ½ inch from the edge. Next, turn under the hem allowance and stitch right on the edge all the way along the hem. Trim the excess fabric as close to the second stitch as you can without catching the stitches, and then fold the hem again and sew the final stitch along the existing stitch line. To finish, press the hem lightly as to not wrinkle your garment.
A faced hem allows you to save fabric while giving a professional-looking finish to your hand-sewn clothing. Unlike the previous hems we have gone over, a faced hem uses a separate piece of fabric instead of rolling over a hem allowance to create the hem. A faced hem will make the inside of your garment look nice and professional, and is a great option when you don’t have enough of your existing fabric to create the hem at the length you’d like.
First, choose the fabric you are going to use and cut it into strips in the correct shape. Line up the strips on their edges, pin, and sew your seam allowance so that everything aligns, and press it when complete. Turn over a seam on the wrong side, pin it and press it before putting it onto your garment along the raw edge. Sew your seam with a regular length stitch, press it open, and fold along the raw edge of your garment on the wrong side, pinning it into place. Next, press the outer edge into place and hand sew or machine sew the fabric into your garment until all of the hem is sewn into place.
With a piped hem, you can add a bit of detail to your hem in a simple way for a hem that stands out. You can use a piped hem on pants, skirts, or wherever you want to create a bit of a different hem that is completely encased.
To start a piped hem, line the edge of the piping to the front edge of your garment and use a zipper foot to sew the piping on. You can sew directly onto the stitching on the piping and leave a tail on each end that extends one to two inches beyond the back seam. Now you will want to seam rip one end, and cut the cord where the other end meets, folding the piping over to match the seam line.
Pin the piping into place and line it with the back seam, sewing the bottom hem into a tube with the same seam allowance as the garment’s tube. Iron the seams open and pin the hem, sandwiching the piping in between and sew closely to the left side of the seam so that piping won’t show through to the other side.
To finish off, fold and iron the bottom hem one inch and then iron the entire bottom hem up so that the piping is at the bottom. Topstitch the hem in place with a matching thread color. You have finished your piped hem!
A bound hem is one of the easiest hems to finish. It is created by sewing binding along the hem allowance to wrap and enclose the raw edge of the fabric, preventing fraying and giving a bit of design detail for a fashion statement.
You will want to start by folding bias binding tape lengthwise and creating a clean edge. After that, turn the wrong sides of binding tape together and pin it in place. Sew a line parallel to the cut edge of your bias binding tape with your sewing machine, followed by pressing the stitch line.
Turn the bias binding tape so that the wrong sides face each other again, and place the chosen edge of your garment into the bias binding, making sure it lies flush. Next, pin it in place and then continue to wrap the bias binding tape along the edge of the fabric until reaching the end. Trim away all excess once you ensure that the binding is neat and the correct length. Stitch the inside of the edge of the bias binding from the right side of the fabric with a medium-length stitch, and finish by gently pressing the bias binding.
Hemming By Hand vs. Machine Hemming
Whether you choose to do these hems by hand or use a sewing machine to do the hemming is up to you! Some hems require a bit more attention to detail in smaller spaces, where hand stitching can come in handy. Otherwise, using a sewing machine makes sewing a hem a must faster process, and most sewing machines have settings in place on them to help make some of these hems a bit easier to complete.
Consider what project you are working on when deciding whether to use a sewing machine or sew by hand. Some things to consider are the type of hem you are creating, the fabric you are using, and how much time you have to work on the garment. Sometimes a sewing machine can get a project done much faster and neater, but other times you need to work more slowly to pay attention to detail and complete stitching that requires looking a bit closer at your stitches.
Now that you have learned about a variety of hems that you can use on your different fabrics, garments, and projects, you can begin to practice these hems at home. Whether you have a sewing machine or are strictly sew by hand, you can complete these unique hems by following the steps outlined above. With folded hems, rolled hems, pinned hems, or bound hems, there are so many hem options to choose from that will work best for each of your hemming projects.