Mar 25, 2014

Knit Tip - Hems...Hmmmm

A beautifully prepared and finished hem enhances the look of any garment whether working with knits or woven fabric. In this blog, I'll focus on knit hemming techniques. But because a knit is by nature stretchy, sometimes achieving a nice, flat edge to hem can be challenging.

In a nutshell, here are some of your options:
  • If the knit doesn't run, some can be left just as the cut edge.
  • Some knits will do well with a serged/overlocked edge, turned up 1/4" and topstitched.
  • A decorative (serged) rolled and stretched lettuce edge might be appropriate for some garments.
  • Perhaps simply folded to the inside and bonded with a fusible web will work for some knits.
  • Consider using a blind hem for more stable double knits.
  • Some knits will require stabilizing first - particularly those where the cut edge tends to curl. Then once turned to the inside could be cover stitched - if you have a cover stitch machine option.
And though I don't (currently) have photos of all options, let's take a look...

This is a slinky-type jacquard knit. The drape is lovely, it has a beautiful hand and is a stable knit - meaning it does not run. Because the hem goes up and down and up and down, it would have made it challenging to sew even a narrow 1/4" turned hem.

The solution - leave the cut edge as is.

Here's a close-up of the cut edge. (I wish I'd bought more of this fabric in different colors - hind sight is always 20/20).

Next you'll see a much thinner knit where the edge is beginning to curl.

Some knits curl considerably more than this example.

And even though this next knit wasn't particularly 'curly', the fabric itself is quite thin and for a really nice hem, I stabilized it. I'll show you how
This is a 1 1/4" wide strip of iron-on fine, fusible interfacing which I fused to the inside of the hem edge.

If you don't have a pre-cut roll of fusible interfacing, you can cut your strips from yardage. This roll is pre-cut at 1 1/4" wide. I wanted a 1" wide hem, so I very carefully trimmed away 1/4".

Then press the 1" hem toward the wrong side.

I used the Cover Stitch option on my BabyLock Evolution. This is what the inside looks like.

I love this Cover Stitch option. As long as your hem is perfectly lined up, the result is 2 perfectly spaced rows of stitching...just like in ready-to-wear. And by having added the fusible interfacing at the edge of the hem, the fabric laid flat and stable throughout the stitching process.

The outcome was just what I intended it to be.



P.S. The side of the hem hikes up slightly on the right side. This was intentional. I inserted shirring elastic on the right side seam only which results in a slight asymmetrical drape at the hem - all part of the plan!


  1. Great tips! Thanks, Glenda. Turquoise is your color!

  2. Thanks Bunny - I really do love wearing that top. It's so comfortable. I sure wish I'd bought more of that fabric...they had 2 other colors in the same jacquard.

  3. Thanks for the tips and the tops are beautiful!

  4. Love that jacquard knit top! I understand your regret at not having bought more of that fabric. I shudder at the thought of leaving a plain cut edge, yet your top (thanks for the close up!) looks great. I've got a slinky knit and have been working up the courage to sew with it, anticipating that it will be a royal pain. No guts, no glory - right? LOL How do you like the cover stitch? Worth upgrading if you have a perfectly good 4 thread serger?

  5. Denise, you know me...I'm very traditional, so to leave the cut edge just as a (yikes!) cut edge also went against my 'norm'. But the alternative was dealing with all those point and 'V's and I knew that anything I could come up with wouldn't look as nice as just leaving it as a raw edge. I have a blog on sewing with slinky - click here -
    I love my BL Evolution, but if I had it to do over again (and if I had more space in my sewing studio) I likely would have purchased a Cover Stitch machine and not in combination with anything else. That way it's always set up and ready to go, rather than having to change needles, thread positions, throat plates etc.


  6. I remember that blog post, Glenda, and you talked about slinky a little in our workshop - both very helpful. I struggle with the rework that's usually involved in sewing fussy fabrics, but the slinky is worth it - I love its drape and softness. Thanks for the tip on the cover stitch! I'll keep that in mind. I've not done any serious research on them but will see what I might want someday and look for a chance to test drive it.

  7. Gorgeous knit tops and gorgeous background! I do have a separate cover stitch machine for the reasons you pointed out. My combo Bernina serger/cover stitch has NEVER been changed over and I've had it 15 years or more. I am surprised at how great that unfinished hem looks. One would never know.

  8. Oh Wow! What a super cute top!! Great job!

    1. Thank you - it's so comfortable to wear too. It's one of the designs in the 6th edition Dress Kit instruction book.