How to Sew a Simple Hem

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How to Sew a Simple HemWhen my husband works on his hand-crafted cutting boards he takes special care in the final stages of the sanding. It all comes down to the finish. The finish really makes the wood shine! It’s the same with sewing. A sewing project is only as good as its hem. A beautiful smooth hem makes any project look professional. Not sure where to start? Read further to learn “How to Sew a Simple Hem.”

One of the simplest hems is the double-hem. This works well for almost any project and leaves an edge with a clean finish.

Double-Hem Instructions

Before hemming any edge, consideration must be given to the finished length. Knowing the final length will help determine how much needs to be hemmed, thus the width of the hem. I prefer a narrow hem versus a wide hem because it is less bulky and it will lay nice and flat. I usually opt to trim excess fabric so the hem is not wide.

Do the Math

Here is where those fraction lessons come in handy! To calculate the hem width (after you have determined the desired finished length) take the total length allowed for the hem and fold down ¼ of the fabric (raw edge). The next step is critical to a smooth finish –– press the turned fabric. Ironing the hem makes the next step easier and helps in the presentation of a professional hem.

How to Sew a Simple Hem

Now, make a second fold. This fold should be about ¾ of the total length. The first fold rolls inside the second fold. There should be a folded edge on both the top and bottom edge. Iron the fold in place, sew down the fold in the fabric, sewing close to the fold in the fabric.

How to Sew a Simple Hem

If you prefer the hem to be thinner or wider make adjustments accordingly.

Here are a couple of hem measurements following the process above.

Hem Measurements

Wide Hem – Curtain
Fabric length = 2 inches
First fold = ¾ inch
Second fold = 1 ¼ inches

Medium Hem – Clothing
Fabric length = 2 inches
First fold = ½ inch
Second fold = 1 ½ inches

Small Hem (rolled hem) – Napkin
Fabric length = ½ inch
First fold = ¼ inch
Second fold = ¼ inch

Note: When sewing a small hem most machines have a “rolled hem” pressure foot to help with the job. A hem this small can get rather tedious without this foot.

If you are interested in learning more about pressure feet or sewing in general check out my Timeless Sewing Guide.


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