6 ways to finish the edge of your hem

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Finishing the raw edge of your hem not only makes it look cleaner and more professional, it also adds durability and helps give your hem a longer life. Here are six different methods you can use to make your hems strong and tidy.

Serged

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Serge along the raw edge of the hem, aligning the cut edge with your serger blade. Try to shave off a few threads as you serge, as this will create a much neater and clean-looking edge than not trimming anything off.

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Turn up your hem allowance, pin and press, and then stitch as desired.

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ZigZag or Mock Overlock

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Use a zigzag or mock overlock stitch to sew along the raw edge of your hem. A good zigzag option for a single layer of fabric is the three step zigzag. Instead of sewing one stitch with each zig and zag, it sews three little ones. This helps prevent the zigzag from making a ridge in the fabric.

If you find that your machine is mangling the edge of your fabric, sew ¼” in from the edge and trim the excess when you’re done. Just remember to then deduct ¼” from your hem allowance when you fold and press your hem.

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Turn up your hem allowance, pin and press, and then stitch as desired.

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Turn Under

This is a good choice when you want a very neat and clean looking finish.

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Turn up your hem allowance, pin and press.

Now tuck ½” of the raw edge down into the hem. An easy way to do this is to measure ½” less than your hem allowance with a seam gauge or ruler as you pin.

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Press and stitch as desired.

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Bias bound

Using bias binding is useful for hems with a slight curve. It’s also a good choice when you’re using bulky fabric and want to avoid the thickness of multiple folds. Use premade single fold bias tape, or make your own out of a fun print.

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Press up hem allowance. Open one side of bias tape and align raw edge of bias tape with raw edge of hem allowance, right sides together. Leaving a loose tail of tape at the beginning, backstitch and stitch tape to hem edge along crease in tape.

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When you get all the way around, backstitch and a few inches from where your stitching started.

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Bring the bias tape tails together and pin them where they should meet, flush with the fabric.

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With bias tape completely unfolded, sew together at pin.

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Trim tails, press open and attach loose section of bias tape to hem between backstitches.

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Fold hem allowance up and stitch around free edge of bias tape to secure.

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If you’d like to avoid losing length of the garment to the hem – or if you’re trying to squeeze something out of less fabric – skip the initial pressing of a hem allowance and stitch the bias binding to the raw edge of the fabric as described. Fold it to the inside to create a facing and stitch free edge as desired.

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Hem Tape

Hem tape is a quick but professional looking hemming option. It’s a good choice when you have bulky fabric and want avoid the thickness of multiple folds. It also provides a smooth, comfortable edge for more textured or irritating fabrics. It comes in a ton of colors, so you can match your fabric or go with a fun contrasting pop of color.

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Press up hem allowance. Overlap hem tape along hem so that the raw edge of the fabric is running down the middle of the hem tape. Edgestitch along tape to secure to fabric.

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When you get all the way around your hem, fold under end of hem tape and pivot to stitch down. Fold hem allowance up. Stitch along free edge of hem tape as desired.

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Lace Hem Tape

Lace hem tape is a pretty hem finish that is great for lightweight fabrics.

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Press up hem allowance. Overlap lace along right side of hem so that the raw edge of the fabric is running down the middle of the lace. Edgestitch along lace to secure to fabric.

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Fold hem allowance up. Stitch along free edge of lace as desired.

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What’s your favorite way to finish a hem?

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Devon Iott   —  

Raised on a farm in Ohio, Devon moved to Los Angeles for college and worked in the film industry for several years. She has taught sewing at various shops throughout Southern California and at the Craftcation Conference in Ventura. She now resides and teaches in Nashville. When not obsessively sewing she can be found knitting, baking, and drinking wine with her cat.

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Comments 28

Jenny exclamation-point.de

Although I like “turn under” method best because it’s fast, I personally finish most of my hems by hand using this traditional tailor method because it looks most high end IMO. That’s also the way suit trousers are finished traditionally. You can also buy interface that does this job – they are sold on a roll, are about 5cm wide and consist of two layers of interfacing that are connected with blind stitches (that’s what we call it in Germany, idk). You can press the hem as desired, slip the interfacing between the fabric and the hem allowance and press. Now you have a finish without no visible seam and still the hem allowance has a little wriggle room to move freely.

Devon missmake.com

Thanks for the info!

Also, hand stitching would work on any of these hem finishes as well.

Meagan

I think this post would be improved with pictures of how the seams look from the outside of the garment.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

The post is just about finishing the raw edges. How it looks on the outside depends on how you actually choose to sew the hem after you turn it. We’ll be covering some of these techniques as well this month.

Devon missmake.com

Hi Meagan,

All the hems in this post are sewn with a straight machine stitch, so they all just look like a straight line of stitching on the other side. However, it’s up to the sewer how they want to stitch the hem. It could be hand stitched or machine stitched in a variety of ways. There are some upcoming posts detailing different stitching methods, so stay tuned!

Lisa G.

I had made a simple a-line skirt from a heavy-ish cotton velvet, and was reluctant to turn it under and make a bulky bunch at the bottom, so it sat almost a year, waiting for me to figure out how to hem it. I searched online, but didn’t see a solution. One day, it dawned on me – I sewed a scallop satin stitch at the hemline with a shiny thread, trimmed it close to the edge, and after a couple of washings it was fine! It looks pretty and the drape of the fabric isn’t spoiled.

Devon missmake.com

Good idea, thanks for the tip!

Fabric Tragic fabrictragic.blogspot.com

I’ve also done a scallop stitch right along the hem of a skirt lining (I believe it was a Beignet actually!) and it was really cute and easy. I think from memory I just reinforced the edge with a little interfacing first.

Natalie threadsandbobbins.wordpress.com

I love the lace hem…I will be trying that one out!

Katie Emma

I have tons of that lace hem tape from my grandma from the 70s, in lots of colors. I haven’t used any yet, but I think I’ll give it a try on my next garment!

Katie

This a great blog post! So much info! Thanks!

Carlee McTavish sewcookgardenrepeat.blogspot.ca

Thanks for the great post! I usually just fold it under twice, but I think the lace looks prettiest. I may just have to try that soon :)

cyngehin@gmail.com

I also like to use the lace tape. No bulk and it’s easy to pick up a stitch through the lace.

Amber

So that is what all that lace is for that I found in my grandmother’s stash! Thanks so much for this post!!!

Adeline adesays.wordpress.com

By far the serged hem has been the easiest for me. But i’ve been researching and finding out the best way to hand-stitch my hem as they tend to look nicer from the outside. I’ll be staying tune for upcoming post on the techniques.

Victoria

I see lace hem tape at the thrift store all the time and have always wanted to try it.

erin opportunityknits.blogspot.com

I like turning under and handstitching ofr that invisible look :)

Kelly sewforkells.tumblr.com

I’m in the process of sewing a mini skirt from gabardine and was considering ways to hem it to avoid bulk. I think I’ll use the bias tape option, but turn it to the outside so there is a contrast line at the bottom of the skirt. A nice post :)

Etemi thesecretcostumier.wordpress.com

This is soooo useful! Thanks so much! :)

Mia

Really usefull post, thanks a lot! Another one fpr knit fabric would be great… ;)

Lisa Boswell Dowden embroiderymachineguide.com

I have follow your guide and make my own. Thanks for sharing. Looking for more of your embroidery projects.

abby @ thingsforboys thingsforboys.com

I’m making a dress this week and think I’ll give the lace hem a go…so pretty! I have a huuuuuge roll of lace and never know what to do with it.

giganswers.com giganswers.com

Hey! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after checking through some of the post I
realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

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[…] raw edges. I am notoriously sloppy at this, so I promise to do it properly. Fi pointed out this blog post at Colette Patterns which will come in […]

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natalie aka hungryhippie 1hungryhippie.blogspot.co.uk

I am laughing because I’ve had lace hem tape in my drawer for-like-EVER and never paused to google it or research how to use it. Now I know, thank you. ;) Love this blog, you teach me sew much. XO

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