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How to Make a Simple Hem

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Every athlete knows it all comes down to the finish. It's the same with sewing – just not as sweaty. A smooth, beautiful hem makes everything look better and more professional. The simplest of hems is the double-turn hem, which you can use on almost any edge where you want an easy, clean finish.

Double-Turn Hemming

The first thing to do is determine how big a hem you need to get the finished length you want.

Most people prefer to err on the side of narrow over wide so there's less bulk to the folded fabric and the hem will lay nice and flat. In fact, it's often better to trim your fabric just a bit rather than make a giant hem.

Large

Let's say you have 2" to work with for the bottom of a curtain. First, fold in your raw edge ¾" and press. Then, make another fold 1¼". Your first fold rolls inside the second and you end up with a nice folded edge on both the top and bottom. Press this double fold and stitch down, sewing close to the fold in the fabric.

Medium

Perhaps you'd like a narrower option for the edge of a pillow back opening or the bottom of a table cloth. In this case fold under ½" and press. Then fold under an additional 1½" and press. As above, stitch the hem down, sewing close to the fold in the fabric.

Diagram

Small

Sometimes, you need a tiny hem for something like a napkin edge. In this case, your double-turn should be just ¼" to start and then a second ¼" to finish. This is also called a "rolled hem" and on many machines you have a presser foot called, unusually enough, a Rolled Hem foot to help you do the job. This specialty foot comes standard on many machines, like the Janome models we recommend at Sew4Home, or you can purchase it separately.

Diagram

Blind Hemming

Blind hemming is exactly what you think it is: a hem with stitches you barely notice. This a the perfect option when you'd rather not have the "top-stitching" look of the double-turn hems described above. It is a much more elegant solution.

To learn how, read our article How to Make a Blind Hem Stitch.

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Comments (18)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ teddyken - If you look just above the comment area you'll see an icon for Google translate. This is the option we use.

em said:
em's picture
I think a double hem could be a twin needle stitch. I have seen this type of hem on many stretchy fabrics. Pants and sports team shirts. I also think a tailors catch hem is a type of hand stitched hem. Check you tube, I remember seeing something about it there. And the question regarding two types of stitches used for the hem.....I don't know what that would be either. Good luck!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@babebex - I'm afraid I can't quite follow what you are describing. Sorry. Did you do a hem using a serger maybe? That's the only way I can think of seeing two different types of stitches at one time. Or perhaps you finished the raw edge with one stitch and then hemmed? Or maybe it was a blind hem. How we describe it above is how we do it here at Sew4Home. But, perhaps you learned another way... there are always lots of ways to do something. If you have a way that works for you and gives you a good result... go for it.
babebex said:
babebex's picture
hi!!! in school we folded the fabric, thn ironed it... we then stitched it with 2 different types of stitching...... so i just want to know which is correct.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ hiya - I haven't hear the term "double hem" - what www show here is called a double turn hem, which means you fold it up once then fold again, encasing the raw edge of the fabric within the two folds. Hope that helps.
hiya said:
hiya's picture
what does a double hem do trying to do my course work but i dont know what it does?smilies/cry.gifsmilies/sad.gif
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi holst -- as I mention in the article above - there isn't ONE set size; it depends on what you are making and the type of fabric you are using, Take a look at the suggestions for large, medium and small hems above. If you have having trouble converting inches to centimeters, here is a good link:

http://www.metric-conversions.org/length/inches-to-centimeters.htm
holst said:
holst's picture
How much centimetres do you usually leave to make a simple Hem Line?
fashionfrenzy said:
fashionfrenzy's picture
Do you also know how to do a tailors hem?im really stuck and i need 2 do it 4 my coursework.
divaskychick said:
divaskychick's picture
Me too! I need to know more about the rolled hem foot!

By the way, this website is helping me so much! I'm taking a little break from little girl clothes to work on my home while I do The Kitchen Cure over at www.thekitchn.com. I'm finding your tutorials invaluable. Working on napkins, place mats and a table runner - I a set for every season! Then I'm going to do a duvet cover and curtains (back to my daughter, of course!)

So, thank you!
Haws50 said:
Haws50's picture
Yes, I would very much like to see an artical on rolled hemming. I do a great double turn and a really great blind hem, but I struggle with the rolled hem foot. If I do get it started which is very iffy...what do you do about corners? you then have all that bulk. I have trouble starting with out the bulk....now there is bulk! Help!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
I'm so glad you liked the hemming article. You're right, rolled hems would be terrific for your handmade hankies. I'm going to add it to my idea list right now, so look for for information soon. Thanks again!
Liz Johnson, Editor
MooMommy said:
MooMommy's picture
I would love to hear more about using rolled hems. I bought a lot of heirloom linen to make hankies, but am not sure how to hem them. The corners really throw me!

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