How to Hem with a Sewing Machine

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The easiest way to learn a new sewing technique is by practicing it when you are not under pressure. You ideally should have some extra time to really look at the fabric and the way the seam is created as it runs through the machine. Sewing machine hemming is no exception to this. It is a little bit tricky to learn but once the technique is mastered you will wonder why it ever seemed difficult.

What You Will Need for Machine Hemming

The list of things you will need for hemming with a sewing machine includes a threaded zigzag sewing machine, a piece of fabric or garment to hem, a ruler, tailor's chalk, and straight pins. It is best to follow all of the steps while you are learning this but if you are just practicing on a scrap of fabric you will be able to manage without using the tailor's chalk, ruler, and pins.

How to Prepare the Hem

Zigzag stitch around the raw edge to finish the fabric. This will prevent fraying. Measure the hem, mark it with the tailor's chalk, and fold it under. 1 inch or less is the usual width of a hem, but fold it according to your length needs if you are working on a garment. Hold the fold in place by inserting a straight pin about every 4 inches. Fold the hem back so it is laying on the outside of the fabric. It should look almost like a little cuff with 1/4 inch of the fabric's finished edge exposed. Pin this second fold every 3 inches with the straight pins.

Using the Sewing Machine to Make the Hem

Set the threaded sewing machine on its widest, longest, zigzag stitch. Lift the presser foot on the sewing machine and slide the folded fabric under it. You should be looking at the wrong side of the fabric laying on the left side of the machine and the little cuff should be underneath. Only the 1/4 inch of the fabric's raw edge should be exposed and laying on the presser foot and right side of the needle. The folded edge needs to be slightly to the left of the needle hole in the sewing machine. Lower the foot when the fabric is properly seated in the machine.

Sew slowly, making sure the needle is just barely catching the fold of the fabric. The largest part of the zigzag needs to be falling on the little slice of finished fabric edge. Over lap a few stitches at the end if the hem is on a garment. Unfold the hem. Gently pull and smooth the stitches until the hem is smooth. Ironing the finished hem is recommended but optional.

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