How to re-hem a garment by hand.
If a garment becomes damaged or stitching comes undone its easy to give up on that piece of clothing and either throw it away or give it to a charity shop. Either way it will be destined for landfill if it is damaged.
In many cases garments can be saved and restored to their former glory or even improved. In this tutorial I am going to show you two methods for hemming a garment by hand.
This is a light to medium weight satin weave skirt, the style is a classic A-line shape with lots of fabric gathered on to a waistband and it has a lining. The hem has come undone nearly all the way round. There is a around 20cm still hemmed, so I can see it was originally hemmed with a blind stitch. The skirt is a designer brand and the type of hemming suits the style, so I have decided to hem the skirt by hand to replicate how it looked originally.
When a blind hem is stitched using manufacturing techniques you often find that a pulled loose thread can unravel very quickly. If this happens during washing its very easy for the whole hem to come down.
I chose to hem this skirt with a herringbone stitch. This method covers the edge of the hem which I think makes its less likely to catch on something that will pull it undone again. The other thing about this skirt is with the fabric being so smooth, fine and slippery it is slightly difficult to manage while sewing. I find the herringbone stitch easier to control when sewing. Therefore I decided I could get a better finish on this fabric using a herringbone stitch.
This is how the skirt looks inside now that it is repaired.
The stitching on the outside is hardly visible.
In these examples I have overlocked the edge of the hem to match the skirt that has been repaired. It might be that the edge is finished with binding or another row of stitching. The same method can be applied to any edge finish.
Herringbone stitch has a bit of movement so it is often used when stitching a jacket or coat hem. It is then covered with lining that is slip stitched over the top.
The key to a good hand stitched hem is not to pull your stitching too tight. Tight stitches will result in dents showing on the outside of the garment. With the right tension on the stitches the garment can look like there are no stitches from the outside.
Use a good quality polyester sewing thread for best results. Use a single thread, don’t be tempted to double your thread or the stitching won’t blend in nicely.
Prepare your hem by pinning it in place, you can also tack it in place if you like. These examples are shown without pins.
- Fasten your thread onto the inside of the hem. I like to make a few stitches over the top of each other somewhere discreetly near a seam. You can also tie a not in the end of the thread.
2. Working left to right (you might work right to left if you are left-handed). Start by making a small stitch approx 3-4mm long just below the overlocking. If you have a bias taped edge or row of stitching you can place your stitch somewhere below that edge (approx 5mm down from the edge). The needle should be entering the fabric right to left.
3. Take the thread to the right (approx 1cm along to the right) so the thread crosses over the stitch that you have just made. Make a smaller stitch in to the garment right to left, this stitch should just pick up 1-2mm of fabric of the garment. This is what will show on the right side when finished. Be careful not to pull the stitches to tightly at this point.
4. Now go back to below the overlocking (approx 1cm along) and make another stitch from left to right.
5. You can now continue until the hem is re-sewn. Securely fasten your thread with a few stitches on top of each other.
On the right side of the garment you can only see the tiny stitches made above the hem. With matching thread these blend in and are hardly visible.
Invisible hand-stitched hem
1. Secure your thread to the inside of the hem.
2. Turn the overlocked part of the hem back, this can act as a guide for where to stitch. Make a tiny 1-2mm stitch on the very edge of the fold.
3. Make another tiny stitch directly above this first stitch into the garment. Slide the needle along by approximately 1cm to the next point on the folded back, overlocked edge. Pull the thread up to form the stitch. Take the needle directly above this stitch into the garment again and repeat to complete the hemming.
The stitching is hidden behind the hem with this style of stitching.
The outside has the same appearance as the herringbone stitched hem.