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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sewing Technique - How To Hem Knits The Easy Way

Sewing Technique - Hemming Knits

Hi Sewing Friends:

I just finished recycling a very long slinky dress that came to my ankles and made me look more like an old Granny than I care to look. It was a gift from my kids and I couldn't give it away, but I just wouldn't wear it the way it was.

What is so nice about slinky and other knit fabrics is that lopsided, crooked people like me can wear them without worrying about our off balance lumps and bumps since the fabric stretches right over them. However, I still like to hide my belly if possible.

So, after hanging in my closet about 3 years, I decided I would simply cut the dress and create a top and a skirt. The top helps to hide my tummy bulge and the skirt length is still long, but much more flattering. Now, I will probably wear it more often.

All I had to do was to hem the slinky knit top and sew some elastic on the top of the skirt. The trick was to get the hem in the knit top to look good.

Here is the sewing technique that I use:

How To Hem Knits The Easy Way
  • Lightly press the fold of the hem up to establish a crease. I use a 1 inch hem allowance.
  • Apply "Lite Steam A Seam 2" (a paper backed 1/2 inch wide fusible web) at the top of the inside of the hem. You can find this with sewing notions. It is a great product that I use a lot.

  • Remove the paper strip.
  • Now press the hem up.
  • Use a press cloth to protect the fabric while you steam press the hem in place.

Although this will permanently hold the knit hem, I prefer to top stitch it for a more finished look.

Prepare the Sewing Machine


  • Insert a 4.0/75 Twin Stretch Needle in you sewing machine.
  • Slightly loosen the needle tension.
  • Use a high quality polyester thread like Metrosene.
  • Thread the upper part of your sewing machine with 2 threads.
  • Sewing Tip: Instead of buying 2 spools of thread for this job, wind an extra bobbin and place it on the thread spindle on top of the spool. Have the thread come off the bobbin in the opposite direction of the thread on the spool.
  • Hand wind a texturized nylon thread like Wooly Nylon on another bobbin and place it in your machine. Do not pass the thread through the tension guide.
Top Stitch the Hem
  • Put a piece of tape or something on the bed of your sewing machine to help you guide the edge of the hem so you can stitch straight.
  • Lay the hem right side up at the sewing machine with the folded edge of the hem along your guide.
  • Begin and end leaving long thread tails.
  • Topstitch the hem in place.
  • The underside of the double-needle stitching makes a zigzag stitch and allows the fabric to stretch.
  • Pull the long thread tails to the underside and tie them together to keep the stitches from coming out.
  • Trim away any excess fabric above the zigzag stitch on the underside.
Voila! There you have a nicely finished hem in a knit top. The fusible holds the knit and keeps it from shifting or stretching out of shape while you sew. And, by using the lite weight fusible, the knit is still flexible and not stiff and boardy.

Try this sewing technique to hem knits. It just makes sense!

Let me know how you like it!

To Your Sewing Success,


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Anonymous Heidi said...

Thank you for the great advice and techniques! I've printed this off and will try it!

6:03 PM  
Blogger Antonia said...

I've used this technique to good results, and after reading your post realized it would be great results with a lightweight fusible. Bought some, and tried it last night.

Works great! Thank you so much!

8:28 PM  
Blogger H said...

You've save my day! Thanks so much. I've got 3 pair of pants to hem and I didn't have a clue how to make them turn out well.

1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand.... how can this be?
"The underside of the double-needle stitching makes a zigzag stitch and allows the fabric to stretch."
I need to shorten sleeves on a knit top - can always hand stitch, but would prefer a top stitch to match rest of garment.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Marian said...

You have two threads on the top and one on the bottom that has to catch both top threads, thus forming a zigzag stitch on the bottom. Please try this technique on some scrap fabric and you will see how it works. I think you will really like it.

8:34 PM  

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