Sewing Technique: Simple, Perfect Narrow Hems




About: I wrote a book. I run, I craft, I write. I'm a gentle-living, hard-rocking, granola-geek-like, yoga-practicing, veggie-eating, wife-mom-friend-sister-daughter-artist. I spend my time sewing, because I lov...

Sometimes a narrow hem is all you need....but how can one get a perfectly balanced turn on a curved hem? For a straight hem, using a narrow hem foot is often the easiest solution, but I have found great difficulty in using one with curves, because the fabric twists and doesn't lay properly. Follow along in these simple steps to achieve a perfect curved hem of your own!

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Step 1: Stitch

My favorite use for my serger is actually not related to sewing knits or anything else, it's this: marking a seam for pressing. I find that when I use a 3-thread overlock stitch on the edge of my curved seam it presses perfectly into place. No templates, pressing rulers, or guessing required.

I don't actually trim anything off. As you can see in the photo, I align my fabric edge with the blade. If you want to trim fabric off at this step, please be sure to add some to the hem when you cut out your pattern.

The second picture is a little wavy, but don't worry, that will get pressed out when you get to step 2!

Step 2: Press

Here's a photo of the edge, pressed once. Make sure you fold over the whole stitch and leave a bit of unstitched at the (new) edge.

Step 3: Press Again

Then you can simply press around again.

Fold right at the top of the first hem for a perfect narrow hem. It is really easy to be accurate, because the serger stitches provide some body.

Step 4: Stitch!

The final step is to stitch the hem down. I like to use my topstitching foot, which has one side (left) raised to accommodate the thicker folded edge. (see photos 1 and 2) .

You could also use a blind-stitch foot (one probably came with your machine) and flip the work over so the thicker fabric folds are on the raised (right) side on that foot. (See photos 3 and 4).

Remember to choose a longer stitch length than for construction, because you're going through more layers here.

Step 5: Finished!

That's it! Simple! (And favorite!)

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    6 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Hi, Will you further explain what you meant by: " Make sure you fold over the whole stitch and leave a bit of unstitched at the (new) edge." I'm not understanding that part. Also, what serger settings are you using other than 3 needles? Thank you for this tutorial; I am desperate for help in this area! I cut out so many patterns for my granddaughter, but she's outgrown them because I can't get this down. I guess I'll be learning ruffles next, if she can even get these over her head anymore!!


    Cross- the stitching seems to cause a nice "break" in the fabric so it folds nicely.  If the hems were wider, I might get bunched up fabric, but this technique is suitable for narrow hems only.


    9 years ago on Introduction

     How does this work without any clipping/trimming ? Don't you get bunched up material inside the hem when doing inside curves ?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Karen...great tip....thanks (I do this for my custom shirt hems...with a 2-thread overlock with very fine thread) ~Pam