What Sewing Machine Stitch Is Best For Hemming? (Plus a Few Alternatives)

stitch for sewing hems

What Machine Stitch Is Best For Hemming?

If you want to make hems on dress pants or curtains like a professional, you’ll need a sewing machine and a specialty foot specifically designed to make a blind stitch. The blind stitch gets its name because from the right side of the fabric, it is barely visible. I would describe it as a cross between a blanket stitch and a walking stitch, with perhaps a little zig zag thrown in.

The reason that so little of the stitch is seen on the right side of the fabric is that all the work is visible underneath, the wrong side. This makes it perfect for hems that you don’t want to see on the right side of your sewing project.

Read More: 15 Different Types of Hems (And What They’re Used For)

What Presser Foot Is Needed For a Blind Stitch

The presser foot you need for a blind stitch is an “R” foot. Your sewing machine may also just simply refer to it as a “blind stitch foot.” You can find many blind hem foots online for far less than the name-brand Singer versions – some made of metal and others made of plastic. Don’t just order the cheapest one. You need to make sure it fits with your machine. Check to see if the blind foot you selected fits your sewing machine’s brand and model number.

SINGER Blind Hem Presser Foot
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Another good choice is to check your sewing machine manual. Some machines require plastic parts, but others require metal. Using a foot made out of the wrong material could damage your sewing machine (and likewise void any warranty on it, if you have a new machine). 

Follow your sewing machine’s manual for the blind hem sewing instructions, too. Generally, they include:

  • Change the presser foot to the blind hem foot
  • Set thread tension at “auto control”
  • Choose the stitch from your stitch menu.

If you are using stretchy fabric, use the elastic blind stitch. If using other fabrics, the regular blind stitch will do. 

Other Good Stitches For Hemming

Overedge Hem

You need an overedge foot to sew the overedge hem on your sewing  machine. Some may refer to these as the overlocking foot. Not only can you use it to give your seams a more professional finish, but they are great for creating hems on medium to heavy weight fabrics like denims. This snap on foot is for a Janome sewing machine. If you do a lot of apparel sewing, you will find that you get your money’s worth out of this sewing foot that retails for less than $20.

Zig Zag

The zig zag stitch is another way to hem, but depending on what you are hemming, you may not like its appearance. I used it often on some craft projects, like baby bibs and burp clothes because the stitch itself is just so cute. I have used it on stretchy knits, because the zig zag is perfect for that fabric. Because of the stitch’s structure, it allows the fabric to move and stretch as needed. While I have used the zig zag to hem stretchy t-shirts, I would never use it to hem jeans (unless I was going for a cute or decorative look). I do, however, use that zig zag stitch a lot around the edges of cut denim before I make my final hemming stitch. It is great as a makeshift serger.

Walking Stitch

Walking stitch, running stitch…whatever you want to call it, the stitch is the simple straight line of stitches that is considered the most basic sewing machine stitch. Despite its simplicity, this stitch is also fine to use for hemming, especially on fabrics that are not stretchy. 

If you plan to use the walking stitch for your hems, you have a couple of options. First (and easiest) is to fold the raw edge under about ¼ inch and press, then fold under again another ¼ inch. You can adjust this as needed (if you need to hem an inch, each fold should be ½ inch). Make the stitch close to the top of the folded fabric. 

Zig Zag

The other option, the one I use most, is to zig zag stitch the raw ends of fabric, then fold under as noted above. The zig zag offers an added protection against fraying and helps keep that raw edge flat. 

The reason I tend to use this stitch the most for hemming is that I find myself hemming jeans a lot. As you know, the hems of most jeans are finished with a contrasting thread. In the past when I hemmed, I had to find a color to match the denim as close as possible and hope it blended well enough. But, this thread set from Gutermann has changed all that! I love the contrasting options for my blue jeans and the additional blending options for my dark and light denim and khakis. By experimenting with stitch width and length, it is easy to create a perfect match for hemming using  the walking stitch.

Gutermann Thread Denim 6 SPLS Denim Multicoloured
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Another Re-Hemming option

Whether sewing by machine or hand, you can hem items to keep the original hem. To do this, adjust the length as needed by folding inside-out. Make sure your side seams line up and pin the fabric to keep them in place.Then, either by hand or machine, sew your stitch just below the edge of the original hem. Cut away the excess after re-hemming the complete project.

Use pinking shears to help alleviate future fraying (or finish the raw edges with a quick (and narrow) zig zag stitch.

When you turn your item right side out, you will see a line of stitches just above your original hem, but if you blend the thread with the fabric, your original hem should be the more predominant of the stitches.

If this hem is temporary, just don’t cut the excess fabric away after you have made your re-hemming stitches. When the item needs to be restored to its original length, it is as easy as ripping out those stitches. 

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