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Taking up a hem

This basically means, an edged finish formed by folding back the raw edge and stitching it by hand or machine.  The depth of the hem and the method of stitching depends on the garment and type of fabric.

You could use hemming tape, which is ironed to the face of the fabric, the barrier tape removed then folded back on itself before ironing fast.  However this is really a short term quick fix as over time and with continuous washing the tape will disintegrate.  I would recommend hand stitching or machine stitching for longevity.

You will need –


Sharp scissors

Tape or ruler


Or sewing machine


Matching thread


Method –


For a new hem on a garment…


If the hem has raw edges, snip to make neat and ensure it is straight at this stage before moving on…


Fold over a good 1 cm then depending on depth of hem, fold and press this measurement down on the wrong side.


Pin then hand stitch down using a tiny stitch that is invisible from right side of fabric.


To do this, take a stitch from the double folded fabric edge, come along a millimetre then lift a portion of the fabric on the other side of fold.  The stitch needs to be very tiny, and not able to be seen on the right sides of fabric.


For a hem that needs taking up, but will need to be removed for letting down purposes later on….


-         Once you have determined the correct length, use the iron to press excess over (to inside of garment)… hopefully it isn’t too much otherwise, you will achieve a really bulky finish.  In cases like this sometimes you might just need to remove the excess.  If this were to happen, keep that which is being removed as it can be re-stitched at a later time.


If you are cutting to take up, you will need the cm original first turn, then another several cm for folding over.  Determine the finished length then add before cutting.


Sometimes you might not be able to take up a garment at the hem length because it might have detailed edging etc. 


In situations like this sometimes you can alter a garment at the shoulder seam, that’s if there are no sleeves involved – which is a whole different scenario… but if you can…


Unpick existing seams…then, if you can, fold flat surplus back down inside garment.  Always iron these seams flat before re-stitching back together from the wrong sides.  Use tiny stitches that will not be seen from right sides.  If there are long lengths of surplus fabric incurred and they are required when letting down is required, I suggest these be tacked and stitched down as well.


For sporting uniforms, I would recommend machine stitching into place as this is a much stronger finish.


 Use a long machine stitch which can always be unpicked at a later date.