How to Do Hemstitching on a Sewing Machine

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The true mark of a beautifully sewn garment is often in the details. Aside from neat stitching and proper construction, small ornamental touches can add quality and sophistication to a project. Old-fashioned dressmaking tricks like hemstitching are popular choices for the home crafter. This decorative type of stitch is usually placed near the hem of a garment, but is sometimes applied to sleeves and necklines. The hemstitch is traditionally done by hand, but the look can be imitated using a home sewing machine.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric
  • Thick blotting paper
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Fabric pencil
  • Turn up the desired hem on the bottom of your fabric and iron it flat. You may have an easier time hemstitching on a larger hem of 1 inch at first, but you can also use this procedure for a 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch hem.

  • Mark the sewing line, which is the stitch placement you would normally use for a hem, on the wrong side of the fabric with a fabric pencil.

  • Cut the fabric 1/8 inch above the sewing line.

  • Line up the cut edges of the fabric, right sides together, as though you are going to sew a normal seam. Slide a piece of blotting paper between the layers.

  • Loosen the thread tension on your sewing machine. Adjust the stitch length to the width you would like your hemstitching to have.

  • Sew 1/4 inch away from the edges, through all layers. Clip the thread ends and pull the blotting paper out of the stitches.

  • Open the fabric to the wrong side. Adjust the thread tension and stitch length on your machine back to normal.

  • Fold the raw edge of the fabric back and sew it down. Fold back the hem edge and sew it down, close to the fold. Iron the hem flat.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your machine has different decorative stitch options, such as a blanket or ladder stitch, you can use them to get different hemstitch looks.

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