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Londa’s Tips for Hemming Knits

How to Stitch Knit Hems

Below, you’ll find ALL my techniques for hemming a knit garment.  There are many ways to ‘skin the cat’, in this case the ‘cat’ being a knit hem.  What I CAN tell you is that the ‘way’ instructed in most patterns will NOT work!  Simply turning up a knit hem and stitching WILL yield a wobbly mess.  Give this technique a try and I think you might just LOVE it!

 INTERFACE the hem allowance

That means put a knit fusible interfacing the entire depth of the hem allowance – the part that turns up.  At seams, do NOT fuse over seam allowances!  Slash the interfacing at the seam line as shown in the 2nd photo below. Be sure you put the rough, pebbly side of it down, or you’ll have a gooey mess on your iron. I  keep on hand a couple of interfacings for this purpose, and cut them to the width I need.  Those are cross-grain cuts, with a rotary cutter, so that the hem still stretches, but it is stabilized!   Here is a link to the 8 way Fusible Knit Interfacing.  French Fuse is another one I like, and it is 60″ wide!  Here is a link.

do NOT fuse over a seam allowance


Think along with me:  Fold up a hem at a seam that will be pressed towards one direction or the other (not pressed open).  Do you see that you’d have SIX layers?  Bulky and then on the other side of the seam, only TWO layers.  Bumps = YUCK! I credit Claire Schaeffer for this knowledge in my sewing.  I had sewn for – oh my – 27 years already by the time Claire came to teach at my shop in 2003, and never realized this principle!  It certainly isn’t ‘taught’ or ‘directed’ in most pattern directions.  Really – even on the most lightweight knits, such as the one in the photo below, this would be bulky.


Simply snip into the seam allowance, right up to the seam line stitching at the fold of the hem.  Then, flip the seam allowance the opposite direction in the hem than which it pressed in the garment.  Yep – that simple!



Next, it is time to stitch.  On knits, the stitch needs to stretch.  Here are some choices:

  1. 3-step Zig Zag Stitch.  I love this one, as it doesn’t ‘tunnel’.  Recently, I had my girls use this stitch both on their bound necklines (since they don’t yet have enough control to ‘stitch in the ditch’, and so I also had them do it on the hems.  Alter the default settings to width:  4.5 and length:  2.5.

  1. Twin Needle Hem.  This is my personal ‘go-to’ quick knit hem. I feel that, when stabilized as directed above, it looks just as good as a cover hem (next in my list).  Note that on the back, the single needle forms a zigzag stitch.  Some like to use Wooly Nylon for extra stretch in the hem, but I’ve never bothered to do that.  I’ve also heard others lay tissue paper under the fabric while stitching.  I don’t do that either.  All machines are different – experiment with yours.  Perhaps even play with the needle tension, or loosen the bobbin tension.  Stitch SLOWLY and use a longer than normal stitch length.  I like to use at least a 3.0 if not 3.5.  In my Stretching Your Knit Sewing Know-How DVD (3 discs long), I fully teach how I stitch with twin needles.  I’ll post that clip below.  Twin Needles come in different widths and configurations.  Make SURE that you have a KNIT stretch needle.  In Schmetz, that means they are ‘connected’ to the single shaft with a BLUE BAR.  Widths available are 2.5 and 4.5.  I prefer the 4.5 (shown in photo).    Links to each of these at my website are found Here and Here. Why make sure it is a STRETCH needle? Because the tip of a stretch needle is more rounded so as to not pierce the fibers of the fabric, but rather to separate the fibers.



Twin Needle Hem