Sewing & Pattern making Terms


A well-executed hem is the hallmark of a professionally finished garment. As a seamstress or pattern maker, understanding the importance of hems and mastering different hemming techniques is essential for achieving a polished and refined look. In this article, we will explore the world of hems, from their purpose and types to the techniques used to create them.

Introduction to Hems: Adding Structure and Neatness

Hems serve both functional and aesthetic purposes in garment construction. They provide structure, weight, and a clean edge to garments, ensuring they hang properly and withstand regular wear. Additionally, hems contribute to the overall aesthetics of a garment, giving it a polished and finished appearance.

Common Types of Hems

There are several types of hems commonly used in sewing, each suited for different garments and fabric types:

  • Single-Fold Hem: This is the simplest type of hem, where the fabric edge is folded once and stitched in place. Single-fold hems are often used on lightweight or delicate fabrics and provide a clean and inconspicuous finish.
  • Double-Fold Hem: A more common and versatile hem, the double-fold hem involves folding the fabric edge twice, encasing the raw edge. This type of hem is suitable for a wide range of fabrics and provides a neat and durable finish.
  • Blind Hem: The blind hem is specifically designed to be nearly invisible from the outside of the garment. It involves folding and stitching the fabric in a way that hides the stitches on the outside, creating a seamless finish.
  • Rolled Hem: Rolled hems are delicate and narrow hems typically used on lightweight or sheer fabrics. They involve rolling and stitching the fabric edge to create a small, neat, and elegant hemline.

Hemming Techniques

Achieving a professional-looking hem requires attention to detail and precision. Here are some key techniques to consider:

  • Measuring and Marking: Accurate measurements and markings are crucial for achieving consistent and even hemlines. Seamstresses use techniques like measuring from the raw edge, folding and pressing the hem allowance, or using marking tools to ensure precision.
  • Machine Stitching: Sewing machines offer various stitch options for hemming, such as straight stitches, blind hem stitches, or rolled hem stitches. Choosing the appropriate stitch and adjusting the stitch length and tension contribute to the quality of the hem.
  • Hand Stitching: In some cases, hand stitching may be preferred for more delicate fabrics or intricate designs. Techniques like slip stitching or catch stitching can create nearly invisible hems or provide additional reinforcement.
  • Finishing Touches: Pressing the hem after stitching is essential for achieving a crisp and professional finish. Using a steam iron or pressing tools helps set the stitches and gives the hem a polished appearance.

Considering Hem Allowances and Garment Design

When hemming a garment, it’s important to consider the hem allowance specified in the pattern or determine the appropriate hem width based on the garment design. Hem allowances can vary depending on the fabric weight, desired finish, and any additional design features like flares or vents. Adapting the hem allowance ensures the garment retains its intended shape and silhouette.

In conclusion, hems play a vital role in garment construction, providing structure, durability, and a polished finish. Seamstresses and pattern makers must master various hemming techniques to achieve professional results. By choosing the right hem type, employing precise measuring and stitching techniques, and considering the garment design, a well-executed hem can elevate a garment from good to exceptional.

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Melissa Villegas
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