How to Hem With a Sewing Machine

You can save money by sewing simple hems yourself. Tailors and seamstresses often charge quite a bit for these simple sewing needs.

Keep in mind the type of fabric you are going to hem, and the type of garment you are hemming. Fabric that does not stretch should use a simple straight line stitch for a hem. Fabrics that do stretch should have a hem stitch described in the last paragraph of this article.  

Use this method for fabrics that do not stretch: For a simple hem in the bottom of a sleeve, blouse, skirt, or plain leg jeans or pants, simply turn under 1/2 inch of fabric, and turn it under again. Pin in place, or use your fingers to hold the fabric [use straight pins if you are new to sewing]. If desired, lightly press before stitching to produce a crisp edge. Using a straight stitch on your machine, edge stitch on the fold inside of the garment. Do not use this technique if the fabric stretches, i.e. some knits and special fabric blends.  

To hem stretchy fabrics, use the stitch on your machine that looks like this _ _ _ ^ _ _ _ ^ _ _ _.  Turn the fabric under twice as described above. Pin in place. Have the garment turned inside out. Next, turn the fabric of the hem back, just exposing the inside of the first fold. You need to increase the stitch width of your machine to 5. Test on a scrap of fabric first, to make sure you have this correct. Keep the straight portion of the stitches on the edge of the fold. Keep the ^ portion of the stitch slightly nipping the rest of the garment. Always back-stitch or hand tie-off your work to prevent the hem from falling out. After stitching, if you have done this correctly, you can turn the garment right-side-out, and smooth the hem out. Press with a steam iron from the wrong side, and enjoy your handiwork!

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