By Emma Jeffery

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Tools used

  • Dressmaker Shears (9")
  • Titanium Softgrip® Comfort Loop Rotary Cutter (45 mm)
  • Coastal Colors Acrylic Ruler (6" x 24")
  • Cutting Mat (24" x 36")

Supply list

  • Iron
    Sewing machine

Often, I find sewing patterns guide you helpfully step by step through the process of making a garment, only to get to the end and leave you with only the vaguest instruction to 'hem your skirt/pants/blouse' without more information about how to do that.

Here are a couple of simple hem finishes you might like to use if your pattern directions leave you asking 'how!?!?'

First, it is important to take a correct measurement of where you want the hem to fall and how short or long you want the garment be. There are several ways to do this, but my preferred methods involve:

  • Putting on your unhemmed garment and have someone pin the hem line either from the waist down or from the ground up, using a ruler or measuring tape
  • Measuring against another item of clothing you know to be the correct length

A hot iron is essential to have nearby when it comes to hemming.

Instructions - Hemming pants:

To hem a pair of pants, measure where you want the hem to be using your preferred method. Though it almost goes without saying - take care to make both legs the same length!! Turn the pants inside out, fold the fabric up with wrong sides together at the marked hemline and press with your iron. Trim the raw edge to 1" below this line. Open out the fold.

Fold up the raw edge 1/2", pin, then press with your iron.

Marking One Inch

Sew all the way around, 1/8" from the folded edge.

Sew around

Fold the fabric up once more, this time folding along the pressed edge of where you marked the finished hem to be. Sew all the way around once more.

Second sewing line

Your finished pants will be nicely hemmed with no raw edges and only one line of straight stitching visible on the right side.

Finshed and hemmed pants

Instructions - Hemming skirts:

Sewing a blind hem on a garment results in an almost invisible hem finish on the right side. Most sewing machines, including the more simple machines, have a blind hem stitch option, though it may be necessary to purchase a blind hem foot if your machine did not come with one. A blind hem stitch involves 3 or 4 straight stitch and 1 zig zag stitch and will often be represented with the following diagram:


With practice, sewing a blind hem is an easy way to finish an item of clothing, but I highly recommend practicing on scrap fabrics first!

To sew a blind hem on a skirt, first measure where you want the skirt to fall, using one of the techniques described above.

In this example, I am using a 2" seam allowance, so I cut my fabric 2" longer than my desired finished length.

Turn the skirt right sides out and using a clear ruler and a piece of tailor's chalk or an erasable marker, mark 1" points from the raw edge all the way around the skirt. Turn the skirt inside out, fold and press the raw edge up along the 1" marks you made.

Turning up raw edge

Again, mark 1" points above the folded raw edge, all the way around the skirt.

fold half inch

Next, working in sections, pinch up the fabric along the marked lines.

Pinching fabric

Fold the pinched fabric down over the raw edge towards the first fold.

Folding over

Leave approximately 1/8" of the first folded edge exposed, and press.

Exposed edge

Insert the skirt into your machine, align the blind hem foot and select the blind hem stitch. The straight stitches will go along the 1/8" exposed folded edge (the right side of the fabric). The zig zag stitch will go into the folded over edge (the wrong side of the fabric). It is important to line up the presser foot so that the zig zag stitch catches just a few of the threads of the folded down edge.

Blind hem foot

Once sewn all the way around the skirt, remove it from the machine. The fewer threads you catch with the zig zag stitch, the more 'invisible' the hem will be.

Catching threads

Turn the skirt right sides out, fold down the hem and press flat.

Finished blind hem

I used red for my stitching so that you can see it more easily in my photos, but if you match your thread to your fabric, the stitches will be virtually invisible.