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very narrow hem

In some fabrics, such as the slippery dotted polyester shown here, and with some hemlines, such as curved or "circular" types, putting in a decent single- or double-fold hem is tricky.  Sometimes it's impossible.  When we try to put in a double-fold hem, even a little one, say, 1/4", we get this:

Hm.  I don't like that rippling, roping thing.  If this were a cotton fabric, we might be able to press those ripples out, but this is a polyester, and it doesn't take ironing very well, so we'll have to resort to subterfuge.  Also known as a Very Narrow Hem.

There are, of course, other ways to solve this problem, a very narrow hem being only one, but a useful and easy one. 

First we're going to sew ourselves a guideline, a scant 1/4" from the bottom edge of the skirt we're working on. 

Then we're going to turn the hem up on that guideline and sew very close to the folded edge.  If you can move your sewing machine needle, a setting all the way to one side would do nicely.

Now we're going to trim as close to our stitching as we can:

And then, we're going to turn that tiny-baby hem up as we sew along the upper fold again. 

There.  What we end up with is a teeny tiny hem with very little distortion.

I like that much better, don't you?


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Reader Comments (9)

Thank You SO much for all the hemming instruction! Solves several problems I have struggled with!

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarle

just finished trying it on a baby dress - worked perfectly! Thanks!

March 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBetsy

Oh, I'm so glad, Becky! Thanks so much for taking a second to let me know.

March 14, 2013 | Registered CommenterErin

I could have used this tip but two nights ago. I just covered up my ropy hem with trim, but this will be huge. Question though: when trimming your seam allowance, what do you use? I can't get as close as you did with a pair of bulky fabric scissors, so is there something you're doing that I don't know about (likely)?

October 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

Allison-Nope, I just use my Ginghers (which I keep good and sharp). I slide them along the stitching line, getting as close as I can, and then don't worry about what's left over. It generally folds up into the little hem and goes away anyway. I find that it takes me a minute or two to develop my scissors-rhythm when I do a hem, but by the time I've got that down, it's smooth sailing all the way around. Best of luck!

October 9, 2014 | Registered CommenterErin

This method worked out SO great. My hand got a little tired because I was trimming a circle skirt, so eventually I switched to my thread snips to trim the seam allowance (for the spring action). Those little blades got in-between even better for me. Anyway, thanks for such a great tip. I foresee many a Very Narrow Hem in my future!

October 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

SO glad it worked out for you, Allison. Many thanks for dropping a comment to let me know how it went!

October 22, 2014 | Registered CommenterErin

How much do you allot for seam allowance on your pattern with this technique? 1/2" or slightly more?

February 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJackie

Jackie, it's about 1/4" on the first turn and then a scant 1/8" on the second. Best of luck!

February 19, 2015 | Registered CommenterErin

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