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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sewing 101: How to Hem

If you were to ask the question, "How do I make a hem?", you would get an overwhelming variety of answers. The fact is, there are a lot of ways to hem clothing! We thought it would be helpful to cover this topic as the next episode in our Sewing 101 series, so today we are here to have a little chat about hems! 

A hem is the bottom finished edge on clothing. We can hem pants, skirts, dresses, shirts, sleeves -- pretty much anything made of fabric. Even curtains need to be hemmed. So it is a pretty important skill to understand! Today we will discuss a few of the most common types of hems: 


Rolled hems are used a lot in our CKC patterns, partly because they look so great on ruffles! There are a few different ways to do rolled hems and each pattern will tell you how. But in case you haven't made it into a pattern yet, here is a quick overview of the types of rolled hems you can do, and how to do them: 

Rolled Hem Using a Serger: This tends to be a favorite among boutiques who want to sew quickly and have a beautiful finish. Some people prefer a small and tight rolled hem, while others like it to be wider. If you have a serger and want to learn how to do a rolled hem, this blog post on Serging 101: Threading for a Rolled Hem will help you out! 

Rolled Hem on a Sewing Machine Using a Rolled Hem Foot: Most sewing machines have a special foot attachment available for purchase that is called a Rolled Hem Foot. It is shown in the photo above and we have a CKC blog post that teaches how to use a narrow rolled hem foot. It has step-by-step photos and even a video! Basically, the rolled hem foot helps keep the edge in a nice roll as it stitches. 

Rolled Hem on a Sewing Machine: If you do not have a serger or a special foot for rolled hems, no problem!  You can still create beautiful rolled hems. To make a rolled hem using a sewing machine, fold the edge 1/4" to the wrong side and iron. Then fold another 1/4" to the wrong side. Sew along the fold, as shown above. This process is a little slower than the previous methods, but it turns out really nice and I actually prefer to make my rolled hems this way!  

Rolled Hem by Serging then Folding: This method combines two of the ones mentioned previously and it is very quick for those who want to use a serger without changing settings for a rolled hem. To do this, you start by serging the bottom raw edge of the fabric. Then fold the serged edge up toward the wrong side of the fabric and sew it in place using your sewing machine. That's it! The finished hem will look like the photo above on the right. 


Many patterns call for a traditional folded hem. This generally means that there will be two folds to enclose the raw edge of the fabric. The measurements of the hem will depend on how much the pattern tells you to fold.  For example, it might tell you to fold 1/2" and then 1".  For this tutorial I will show you how to make a hem that is 1/4" and then 1/2", but keep in mind that it varies from pattern to pattern.   

First, use an iron to fold the edge 1/4" to the wrong side, as shown above.  

Once you have ironed the whole edge, go back and fold an additional 1/2" to the wrong side. Iron so it is nice and crisp, pinning every few inches as you go.

Sew along the inner fold, close to the edge.  Your traditional folded hem is now done! 


There are many other ways to finish the bottom edges of clothing that may or may not be referred to as hems, depending on who you ask, but I want to include them here so you can see more options. 

For example, you can make a bias trim hem, as shown here on Lindsay's skirt.  

Or you can end clothing in a cuff at the bottom, such as Baby Jeffrey's

And whether or not a pattern calls for it, you can also add lace and other trims to the edges of your hems! You can read more about how to add lace on our CKC blog post here

I hope this gives you a good overview of how to do some of the more popular techniques for clothing hems. Now you're all ready to get started on that cute outfit you've been dying to make!  

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 

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