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Invisible and Decorative Hems

How to sew invisible and decorative hems for different home sewing projects.

There are two main ways to do a hem either invisible or as a feature. The modern electronic and/or computerised sewing machines often include several ways to do hems. Check your sewing machine manual to find out the various hemming stitches available to you. Try them out on a sample piece of material.   


Below are the explanations for the different kind of invisible and decorative hems.


invisible and decorative hems

invisible and decorative hems Plain hem  is made by turning in edge ¼ inch and stitching  close to the fold. Baste stitched edge to position and slip stitch. With very heavy materials, sometimes only a single fold is made and the edge is catch stitched. Seam binding is also used on heavier materials. Gather edge first, sew binding on to right side at the edge and slip stitch.    


hemsA narrow hem is often used on sheer materials. Turn in edgeinch, turn again ¼ inch and hem. These hems are mostly machine stitches. 


invisible hem Wide machine stitched hem  is made like a plain hem but stitched to position by machine. Used often for pillowcases and sheets. 


decorative hem Rolled hem  is used for handkerchiefs and dainty lingerie. Stitch close to edge, roll edge over enough to cover stitching, and slip stitch or whip (overhand). 



invisible hemsTurned picot edge is good in transparent fabrics. Measure the hem, hemstitch the edge and cut through centre for picot. Turn overinch and slip stitch. 


decorative hems Lingerie hem  is used for collars, ruffles and undergarments. Turn in narrow hem on wrong side and baste. Take two firm tight overhand stitches one on top of the other, slip needle under hem concealing thread for ¼ inch, and repeat. Effect is like tiny scallops. 


shell hem Shell hem  is made like lingerie hem, but puffs are wider, and a few tiny running stitches are made between puffs. Or the puffs may be made with a simple overcast stitch. 


sewing hems Multiple stitched or stitched band hem  .  Make hem depth of ¼ inch to ¾ inch and stitch near the fold as many times as desired, usually three to five. For heavy fabrics, omit first turn and overcast raw edges. 


reversed hem A reversed hem  that is finished on the right side of the garment It has a decorative function and is often emphasized at the top with cording, piping, or rickrack. It is used only in fabrics with no difference in wrong or right side of the material. Stitch all seams that run to the bottom of the skirt in the usual way on the wrong side of the material, but not all the way down. Mark the hem line and finish the stitch­ing about one inch above the marked hem line. Clip the seam allowance at the end of the stitching as close as possible to the stitched seam line. Finish the seam on the right side of the skirt. Press the seam open, turn the hem to the right side, thus concealing the seam, and finish it. 


hems Hem over a pleat  is made by clipping the part of the seam under the hem and pressing it flat before turning the hem. 


faced hemFaced hem is used where garment is too short to turn up a regular hem. Stitch facing (of same grain as fabric) of desired width for hem, right sides together. Turn so that at least ½ inch of the garment is on the wrong side. Finish as for regular hem. 


 home sewingApplied hem is very decorative and is in a contrasting colour. Cut piece on bias twice width of desired hem, stitch to skirt, right sides together, and press seam towards bottom. Turn in bottom edge ¼ inch and turn up hem, slip stitching edge to line of machine stitching. 


circular skirt hem Circular skirt hem  have a great deal of fullness, and are gathered near the hem edge or pleated in a series of tiny pleats all facing in one direction before being slip stitched to posi­tion. Seam binding may be applied after gathering. 


shaped hem Shaped hem  , for  example a scalloped hem, is often high­lighted with a decorative stitch such as feather stitching. 


 embroidered edging  Embroidered edging  at hem may be applied as follows: For tucked effect, stitch edging to skirt, wrong sides together. Press seam up. Stitch one tuck in fabric. Stitch close to fold of tuck over seam. Make another tuck if desired. For bias trim finish, stitch edging to skirt, wrong sides together. With bias right side down, stitch to skirt below seam, turn bias up, press, and slip stitch to position over seam.


To apply these techniques of making invisible and decorative hems you need to start with some home sewing projects. 

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