How To Hem On A Sewing Machine

Sewing machines can make all kinds of alterations to clothes, from tapering pants to adding a hem. When it comes to hemming, using a sewing machine makes life a lot easier. It only takes a few steps and some basic sewing skills. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to hem using a sewing machine.


The first step in hemming a garment is to measure, so that the seam is long enough. The length should be slightly longer than the desired length of the hem. This provides extra length for seam allowances and creating a neat finish. To measure the hem, double the desired hem length, add together the desired hem projection and fold-down allowance, then add 1 inch. For example, if the desired hem length is 1 inch, the total length should be 4 inches.

Mark and Cut

As for making hem on a sewing machine, you have to mark the wrong side of the garment to the proper depth for the hem. The mark should be at least 1/4 inch shorter than the desired final length. Additionally, give allowance of 1/2 inch for ease. Consequently, use a dressmaker’s chalk to make a 1/2-inch-wide line at the bottom edge, 1/4 inch longer than the desired hem length. In order to secure the hemline, press one edge of this line and baste it with a removable fabric marking pen or a few stitches.

Press and Pin

The next step is pressing the hem to secure it. Start by folding the fabric over so that the line drawn earlier is on the garment’s wrong side and the raw edge is just above it. Then, press that part to hold it in place. Finally, after holding and pressing the part, pin it to the wrong side of the garment so that it stays in place. Additionally, use beeswax on the thread to reduce fraying.


Sewing the hem is the most important step in the process. To begin, adjust the sewing machine to a zigzag stitch and set the stitch length to 1.5 mm or lower. To finish the hem, make sure that when sewing the folded edge, the left side of the hem should touch the desired project length while the right side should just fall off. Finally, keep the fabric in place by pulling the right edge away before you start moving the needle. When done correctly, the stitching should be nearly invisible.


To finish the hemming process, snip the extra threads. Be careful not to cut the fabric or stitching. Run the garment through the machine again, so that the extra thread is tucked inside. Finally, make sure the stitching is aligned where it’s supposed to be to complete the hem.


Hemming incorrectly will make the garment look unprofessional. To achieve professional results, use quality thread and high-grade stitches. Additionally, if using a heavy fabric, a blind hem stitch machine may be useful. A blind hem is an invisible stitch,whereby the actual stitch line cannot be seen on the garment, giving it a nearly seamless look. An expert tailor or an experienced sewing enthusiast can discuss which type of hem suits the garment and the fabric.


Hemming with a sewing machine can be tricky. If the fabric is not properly secured, the hem can be uneven. If the stitching isn’t secure enough, it can unravel or become loose. If the stitching is too tight, it can cause puckering. To prevent these problems, make sure to securely pin the hem line and to evenly distribute the tension on the fabric.

Types of Fabrics

Different fabrics require different techniques of hemming. Sheer fabrics, for example, require French hems, which are more durable. Linen and wool will also require a unique method for hemming. Synthetic fabrics can be challenging, so it’s best to test the stitch and tension on a scrap of fabric before sewing the hem. Last but not least, to give the hem a perfect finish, go over the stitching twice.


Creating patterns for hemming requires specific measurements. Take a pattern from a finished garment to make the process easier. For example, a skirt pattern is taken from the bottom of the waistband, while an umbrella skirt pattern is taken from the knee area. If working on an uneven hem, use paper to make patterns and adjustments. Additionally, if making alterations to trousers, use paper to simulate pleats and other features.

Cheat Sheets

For beginner sewers, it may be beneficial to make a cheat sheet that outlines the types of fabrics and specific measurements used in hemming. This will make the process easier, as instructions on dimensions and sewing machine settings can be written together. Additionally, it can be a helpful guide to refer to when running out of time or struggling with a particular step.


To master the art of hemming, practice is key. Work on small projects, like handkerchiefs or napkins, before attempting larger garments. Read tutorials and watch videos to get a better understanding of the process. With practice, you’ll soon be able to sew professional-looking hems with ease.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

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