Sewing 101: Hem Basics for Woven Fabrics

Sewing 101: Hem Basics for Woven Fabrics

In this tutorial, we will show you 3 basic techniques for hemming! The finishing touches on any project secure the construction of the piece as well as provide a clean, functional finished look. Watch the video below for the full tutorial!

Tip: Always press a hem before and after sewing for easy stitching and a clean finish. If you’re concerned that the fold of the hem will indent the face fabric once ironed, use a press cloth.

Topstitch Hem

In this example, we used Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen Blend in Ocean.

Hem Basics

The most basic of hems, the topstitch hem is commonly used on a variety of projects including draperies, bedding, slacks, shorts, dresses, skirts, and outerwear.

The key to this hem is just making sure the rough edge is secured in some way, whether it’s folding it under, cut with a pinked edge, overlock stitched or serged.

Pick your desired length and determine the extra fabric needed for the desired hem-length. For example, if you’re making a skirt, and you want the skirt bottom to finish at 23”, add 1” for a 1” topstitched hem, or 1 ¼” for a 1” hem with ¼” folded under.

Narrow Hem

For this example, we used Cotton + Steel Lawn in Toy Boat.

Hem Basics

Just as common as the topstitch hem, this hem essentially is a top stitch, but with a very narrow fold. This hem is perfect to use for subtle hems that you don’t want to add too much attention to, or delicate fabrics that won’t support a wider hem well, like very lightweight or sheer fabrics.

You can achieve this hem in 1 of 2 ways: Simply fold the fabric under twice ¼” each time, press and top stitch.

Or, if the fabric does not cooperate easily with a double fold, edge stitch a wide fold first, trim excess fabric to 1/8”, the fold again to topstitch a ¼” narrow hem. This technique works really well with alteration hemming since it can easily accommodate excess fabric in the first step.

Hand Whipstitch

For this example, we used Kaufman Lush Velveteen in Royal.

Hem Basics

Sometimes hand hemming works better than machine sewing for fabrics that have a lot of movement during sewing, embellished fabrics with sequins or a dimensional design, or plush/lofty fabrics that would show obvious stitches like velvet, faux fur or minky.

Like the topstitch hem, a very important aspect to this stitch is making sure the edge is finished first- either by serging, overlocking or folding under.

With a hand needle and thread, carefully stitch the hem fabric to the back of the face fabric, by catching just a few threads to secure. Repeat this about every 3/8” along the hemline. The result is virtually an invisible stitch from the front, and a hemming experience that give you ultimate control.

Hem Basics

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Hem Basics

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