Don't Hem and Haw About It: How to Choose the Perfect Hand Hem Stitch for Your Project

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If you're an all-day-every-day type of hand sewer — or even if you're the total opposite — chances are you've had to hand sew a hem . There just isn't a machine option that measures up to doing it by hand, it looks beautiful (seriously, the definition of couture ) and, if done right, is almost invisible when seeing the whole look.

But when deciding to go the hand hemming route, it can be tough figuring out a stitch type. That's where we come in. Below are the pros and cons to five different hand hemming stitches, plus mini tutorials to get you started.

Slip Stitch

Use it on: Lightweight fabric
Edge finish needed: Clean or folded finish
Advantages: Durable, practically invisible
Disadvantage: Takes a long time
Pull it off: Thread your needle with a single thread and tie a knot at one end. Insert the needle into the fold between the layers, then come up through the fold. Make sure the knot anchors the thread.

Grab a tiny bit of fabric with your needle. Moving to the left about 1/4- to 1/2-inch, grab a tiny bit of the folded hem. Moving to the left again, grab another tiny bit of the fabric. Repeat all the way around the hem.

Catch Stitch

Use it on: Knits
Edge finish needed: Folded finish (can't be flat)
Advantages: Durable, stretches
Disadvantages: Needs lots of thread, takes a long time
Pull it off: Thread your needle with a single thread and tie a knot at one end. Insert the needle into the fold between the layers, and come up through the fold. Make sure the knot anchors the thread.

Grab a tiny bit of fabric with your needle. With your needle pointing left, move to the right about 1/4- to 1/2-inch, then grab a tiny bit of folded hem. With your needle still pointing to the left, move to the right again and grab another tiny bit of fabric. Repeat all the way around the hem.

Felling Stitch

Nickname: Vertical hemming stitch
Use it on: Any fabric weight
Edge finish needed: Works on all except thread-covered
Advantages: Versatile, durable, fairly fast to do, no exposed thread
Disadvantages: Doesn't work with thread-covered edge finishes
Pull it off: Thread your needle with a single thread and tie a knot at one end. Insert the needle into the fold between the layers, and come up through the fold. Make sure the knot anchors the thread.

Grab a tiny bit of fabric with your needle. Moving to the left about 1/4- to 1/2-inch, grab a tiny bit of the folded hem. Now, instead of moving, grab a tiny bit of fabric right above the stitch. Then, moving to the left again, grab another tiny bit of the folded hem. Repeat all the way around the hem.

Blind Hem

Use it on: Any fabric weight
Edge finish needed: Works on all
Advantages: Versatile, no exposed thread
Disadvantages: None
Pull it off: Fold the garment fabric so that about 1/4-inch of the hem allowance is showing. The inside of the garment should face you, with that 1/4-inch of the hem allowance up.

Thread your needle with a single thread and tie a knot at one end. Insert the needle into the hem allowance. Make sure the knot anchors the thread.

Grab a tiny bit of the fold with your needle. Moving to the left about 1/4- to 1/2-inch, grab a tiny bit of the hem allowance. Moving to the left again, grab a tiny bit of the fold. Repeat all the way around the hem.

Blind Catch Stitch

Use it on: Any fabric weight
Edge finish needed: Works on all
Advantages: Versatile, stretches, no exposed thread
Disadvantages: None
Pull it off: Fold the garment fabric so that about 1/4-inch of the hem allowance is showing. The inside of the garment should face you, with that 1/4-inch of the hem allowance up.

Thread your needle with a single thread and tie a knot at one end. Insert the needle into the hem allowance. Make sure the knot anchors the thread.

Grab a tiny bit of the fold with your needle. With your needle pointed to the left, move to the right about 1/4- to 1/2-inch and grab a tiny bit of the hem allowance. Keep your needle pointed left, move to the right again and grab a tiny bit of the fold. Repeat all the way around the hem.

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Don't Hem and Haw About It: How to Choose the Perfect Hand Hem Stitch for Your Project