10 Ways to Hem a Dress

Hemline is an integral part of the garment and completes the look of your dress. The method you are going to use to hem your dress should be decided on a early stage of the designing process. There are many varieties to chose from. Here are 10 most common ways to hem a dress using sewing machine, overlock and top stitching machine.


Double-folded hem. The raw edge is folded under the seam.  This is a very versatile hem. Can be any width and might be used on majority of fabrics and with most designs.

Most common way to hem the dress

Note:  When the design calls for a narrow hem, use hemming foot. Most modern machines come with the "rolled hem" presser foot included in the standard package. It is a very useful, time saving tool, if you are willing to practice a little bit. 


Serge and sew - raw edge is overlocked before stitching, it eliminates the need to fold the edge twice making the hem of the garment less bulky. Three-thread overlocking is the preferred way and can be wide or narrow depending on the thickness of your fabric.

Serge and sew


Blind stitch hem aka invisible hemming. This stitch is characterised by the tiny dots on the right side of a garment. Matching colour thread is important in order to achieve the desired effect. For professional finish an invisible thread may be used. Domestic sewing machine have couple of build-in stitches that are used for blind hem - the stretching stitch for the knitted fabric and the plain one for the woven ones.

invisible hemming

Note: If you can’t find the exact colour match go with the slightly darker tone thread, it usually will be less conspicuous then the light one.



Lettuce edge aka rolled hem.  This hem can be done both with serger and sewing machine. Serger is much more effective with the knitted fabrics, while sewing machine rolled hem is suitable for the thinner woven fabrics cut on bias. Zigzag setting with a small step is used when making a rolled hem on sewing machine. Use the “rolled hem” settings when doing it with the overlock.


rolled hem

Note: Different fabrics stretch differently, always do the test run beforehand. The more you stretch the fabric the more frills and folds your hem will have. Mind that you stretch it in both directions, but not impair the sewing machine step - breaking needles and jamming machine will be your reward otherwise.



Top-stitcher hemming. This hemming method is commonly used in sportswear and with thicker knitted fabrics. It stretches almost as good as a fabric. Depending on garment design it can have two or three top threads and can be narrow or wide. As a general rule the narrow setting is used for the thinner fabrics. For the thicker fabrics the wide or three-needle setting is more suitable.

Three ways the top-stitcher can be used



Bias binding. Bias-cut tape is stretchy and can be moulded and pressed into many shapes, this makes it perfect for finishing the curved edges. Used in a contrast colour it may be used as an embellishment on your garment. So, this method can be used both in decorative or in utilitarian way. Three are four most used techniques of attaching the bias tape.

  • Press and stitch
  • Back to front
  • Front to back
  • Hand finished

The one you choose depends on the your design and skills.


Bias binding the edge of the garment



Curved hem. Challenge of a curved hem is in the different lengths of the edge of the fabric and the place where it to be attached to the garment. The most common ways is the gathering or the pinching of the access fabric to pick the slack in order to keep the hem even. If you are not sure eyeing it, pin it first.

how to hem the curved edge



Bias ribbon curved hem.  This method is effective for curved or complicated hemlines. Bias ribbon used to hem the garment is shaped to match the shape of the edge to be hemmed.


Hemming the dress using the bias-cut tape



Scalloped hem. To hem the scalloped edge you will need a facing matching the garment in shape and the grain orientation.

Facing the scalloped-edge hem



Lace-trimmed hem.

Sewing lace with a zig-zag

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