Is your sewing machine unusable? Or are you on vacation, and only have needle and thread? Knowing how to fix the hem of a garment by hand sewing is helpful. Once you learn it, this technique is actually quite easy. What's more, the hand-stitched seams can also be hidden so they can be an attractive option when you're perfecting your outfit.
Part 1 of 3: Folding the Seams
Step 1. Iron the part of the garment you want to hem
Removing creases and creases in clothing and keeping the fabric flat is essential to getting the right hems.
Step 2. Measure the length of the seam
Get dressed, stand in front of a mirror, and decide what length of hem you want. Mark this point with a pencil or sewing chalk.
- The help of a friend may be helpful in this step.
- When determining the length of the hem, it is recommended that you wear the shoes that will be worn with the outfit to ensure the final length is correct.
Step 3. Cut the fabric to the length below the chalk line or pin
First, determine the depth of the seam you want, then cut off the rest of the fabric. Leave the fabric according to the depth of the seam. For example, if you want to make a 13mm deep seam, leave 13mm of fabric below the seam line. Leave enough fabric to allow the seam to turn, but not so much that it looks puffy.
A 2.5 cm deep seam may be appropriate for pants, while a 2 cm deep seam is suitable for blouses
Step 4. Fold the seam
To make the most of the seam, you only need to fold the fabric once along the seam line, inside meeting the inside of the fabric. The inner side of the fabric is the side that is not visible from the outside of the garment, while the outer side of the garment is the visible side.
Part 2 of 3: Choosing Stitches
Step 1. Use a whipstitch skewer, if you don't have enough time
This option can be done in a short amount of time, but results in the least durable hem because the thread is outside the fabric and breaks easily. Make a long stitch on the inside of the fabric and make a small, barely visible stitch on the outside.
- Hide the knot of yarn, and bring the yarn back into the fabric through the outer side of the seam fold.
- Sew right to left (or left to right if you're left-handed), cross the needle diagonally and work it through the few rows of thread above the seam crease. Point the needle in the direction of your stitches.
- Bring the needle back through the seam and repeat.
Step 2. Use a flannel stitch to create a more supple and strong stitch
Flannel stitches are made by sewing threads across the inside of the fabric, and making tiny, barely visible stitches on the front side of the garment. Keep in mind that this stitch is made in the opposite direction to the regular stitch direction. Right-handed people must sew from left to right, while left-handed people must sew from right to left.
- Hide the knot by pulling the needle out through the seam.
- Point the needle against the direction of the stitch. Pass the needle through a few rows of thread just above the seam crease.
- Now, take a bit of fabric from the hem and stick the needle keeping it pointed against the seam, then repeat.
Step 3. Use a barely visible slip stitch
This technique is done by making small, neat stitches on the front and back of the garment. The slip stitch is so called because it is made by tucking the seam into the crease of the seam edge. Right-handed people should sew with the needle pointing to the left, while left-handed people should sew from left to right with the needle pointing right.
- Hide the knot by pulling the needle out through the seam, right at the end of the fabric.
- Pass the needle through a few rows of thread above the seam crease.
- Reinsert the needle into the crease of the seam, just below the end of the previous stitch. Pull the needle out about 7 mm from the edge of the seam as if pulling it through a fabric tube.
- Repeat the previous three steps.
Step 4. Use a fell stitch to create a more durable stitch
The fell stitch is very strong, but leaves a diagonal seam visible from the outside of the garment. If the fabric is very thick, you can try to make a fell stitch without going through the fabric so that the stitches are not visible from the outside. Right-handed people should sew from right to left with the needle pointing right, while left-handed people should sew from left to right with the needle pointing right.
- Hide the knot by sticking the needle out through the top edge of the seam fold.
- Insert the needle through the fabric over the edge of the seam, about 6-13 mm long. Complete the fell stitch by sticking the needle through a few rows of thread at the top of the seam crease.
- Start the next stitch right at the end of the previous stitch and repeat.
Part 3 of 3: Sewing Seams
Step 1. Measure and cut the thread
The length of thread you need will depend on the circumference of the seam, but setting the thread too long is always better than too short. A general guideline is to use 46 cm of thread or the length of the sleeve. Use yarn in a color close to the color of the garment.
Step 2. Prepare the needle and clothes
Thread the thread through the small needle and tie a knot at the end. Turn the clothes inside out. Sew with the seam line up.
Step 3. Start with a small stitch on the seam line on the inside of the fabric
In other words, stick the needle into the inside of the garment from the top edge of the seam. Do not stick the needle into the front of the garment. The needle should only be inserted through the crease of the seam.
Step 4. Create a stitch pattern
Continue sewing from right to left or left to right. Make small stitches evenly spaced. Don't leave the thread too loose, but don't pull it too tight either.
Step 5. Tie the end of the thread when you're done hemming
Make two hem stitches in the same place where you started the hem stitch. For this last stitch, don't pull the thread all the way through. Insert the needle twice into the loop of yarn, then tighten the knot by pulling it.
- Hide the tail of the thread by inserting the needle horizontally about 2.5 cm between the seam folds. Do not stick the needle through the front of the garment.
- Remove the needle on the inner side of the fabric and cut off the remaining thread.
Step 6. Put on the garment to make sure the seams of the seams are even
Hopefully it fits, or you'll have to adjust it again by opening the seams and sewing back the parts that look uneven.
If you used a whipstitch stitch to hem the garment by hand, but want the result to last longer, use one of the methods above or re-sew the seam by machine at a later date. The advantage of the whipstitch stitch is that it can be temporarily fixed or used to test the length of the hem. Thus, this stitch is suitable for use while traveling, in shows, photo shoots, or fashion designing, etc
- After cutting the fabric, you should trim the edges. Some fabrics may need more trim than others.
- Remember: although it's fast, hemming by hand requires patience. Don't be in a hurry.
- For a smoother hem, try using hidden stitches.
- If you have the choice of sewing by hand or machine, machine stitching has more options and is also stronger. However, if you want to make hidden stitches or make clothes look custom made, hand stitching is more suitable. Machine-stitched seams will make your clothes look like they were factory made.
- It's a good idea to have someone else help you with the hem to make sure it's in the right position. If this is not possible, use a mannequin at your height as a reference.
- A thimble can be helpful if you feel pain when pressing the needle through the fabric.
- Always store needles immediately after use so they don't get lost and puncture you.
- Save the needle by leaving about 20 cm of double knotted thread at the end. This will make it easier for you to find the needle if it falls.