Hemming tape is useful, durable, and a great alternative to needle and thread for various sewing or craft projects. The tape can be either temporary or permanent.
The packaging should indicate which type of hem tape you’re holding in your hand. Make sure you get the one you want, as it can be difficult to impossible to remove permanent hemming web or tape once applied.
Hemming tape comes in different weights, widths, and colors. Anyone who doesn’t sew can use hem tape for hems, quick repairs, or to add embellishments to home decor projects.
Types of Hemming Tape
Although we are not discussing non-fusible tape, I want to mention its existence. When purchasing hem tape, double-check the labeling to ensure you’re getting the correct product. Non-fusible tape must be sewn in place and is used to extend hemlines or as a temporary fix.
Temporary Hem Tape
Temporary hem tape is popular for altering jean hems, jacket cuffs, or dress hems. The tape allows the hems to be adjusted temporarily for wearing with varying heights in shoe heels. Temporary tape can also be used to alter a borrowed garment or a child’s clothing temporarily.
One-sided fusible tape
One-side hemming tape has adhesive on only one side and must be applied on top of the hemline or along the edge of a seam. This tape is woven and looks like ribbon or binding tape with no visible stitching. Again, choose the tape carefully according to whether you’re looking for a temporary or permanent fix.
Two-sided fusible hemming web or tape
Two-sided hemming tape is often called web or webbing. It is not woven like fabric but looks like a ribbon of thin interfacing. The web has adhesive on both sides, so it must be placed between two sides and ironed in place.
Two-sided permanent webbing is probably the most popular for adjusting hems or completing craft projects without stitching. It may look like a roll of tape, or a paper backing on one side may need to be peeled away partway through the project.
Fusible webbing is permanent. Although there are a few methods available to try to remove it, there will almost always be some kind of residue or stain left behind. It can also leave a nasty residue on your iron if not applied correctly or in an attempt to remove the product.
Uses of Hemming Tape
Here are some of the more popular uses of an iron-on hem tape:
- Hemming clothing, curtains, or linens
- Repair of small tears or damage to most fabrics
- Attaching lace, ribbon, or pre-made fabric appliqué embellishments
- Attach plastic edging or decorative trim
Choosing the Right Product
Choosing the wrong hem tape or webbing can damage your clothing or other projects. It can also cause the fused sides to come apart, even if you use permanent tape.
Probably the most crucial consideration when choosing a fusible tape is weight. The most common weights are thin, regular, and heavy.
Heavy fusible tape is used for wool, denim, corduroy, suede, or heavy cotton. Use heavy tape for repairs to jeans, jackets, draperies, or upholstered items.
Use thin, or light, webbing for lightweight cotton, silk, rayon, or acrylic surfaces. Be especially cautious with extra-delicate fabrics such as crepe or netting. The fusible webbing may show, or the adhesive may seep through, staining the fabric.
Fusible webbing is available in black and white. Use white for light-colored materials and black for dark colors. This lessens the chance of the webbing becoming visible along edges or through thin fabric.
Fusible tape also comes in varying widths. Choose a width that will hold securely without being exposed when using a two-sided product. The exposed tape will stick to your iron and make a mess. There are adhesive hem tapes that don’t require ironing. But again, the exposed tape may stick to anything.
How to Apply Hemming Tape
- Prewash fabric or a new article of clothing before using hemming tape. Prewashing will prevent puckering from future shrinkage. Do not use fabric softener, as it can affect adhesion quality.
- Iron fabric if necessary to provide a smooth surface for adhesive.
- Choose a hem tape slightly narrower than desired hem width, so webbing remains invisible.
- Measure the length of the hem or craft project and cut the appropriate length of webbing. Up to ½ inch can be added to tape length to ensure fit as necessary.
- When joining lightweight fabric or using light one-sided hem tape, cover with cotton to prevent damage while ironing.
- To avoid burn marks or damage to fabric, read tape packaging and use the correct iron setting for cloth and tape. Allow iron to heat completely before using.
- Do not slide the iron along the fabric. Press a small section at a time as directed. Then lift the iron and move it to a new area along the length of the tape.
- Press both sides of the fabric to ensure full adhesion.
- Do not allow the tape to pucker or fold. Keep it even between layers.
- If a section of tape does not adhere, don’t keep pressing, or you may damage your fabric. Add webbing to that section if needed.
Why Permanent Tape May Come Apart
If you used permanent fusible hemming tape or web, yet it came apart during use or in the wash–there’s probably a good reason for it. Though most of these points were mentioned above, it’s worth reiterating them here.
- If the fabric was not prewashed, chemicals in the new material might cause hem tape not to adhere correctly. Shrinkage of unwashed fabric may also cause the fabric to pull away. Using fabric softener can create a barrier between the webbing and fabric, interfering with adhesion.
- Using the wrong weight or width of hem tape may limit its holding capabilities. Make sure your hem tape is heavy enough for denim or other thicker fabrics. Also, make sure the fabric is ironed smooth to create an ideal surface for fusible tape.
- Poor quality tape or webbing may shorten the life of the adhesive.
- Failure to press for the required time or use the correct heat setting will also cause the tape to adhere only partially. The joint will then be weak and quickly disintegrate.