A hem is a way of folding over all those straggly, thready edges and hiding them with a quick bit of stitching. A single hem is often called for if you’re making a t-shirt or using a stretchy fabric like jersey, and those straggly edge are tidied up with a bit of clever stitching instead of a fold.

This is where serious equipment like an overlocker can be recommended, but for the home sewer an overlocker isn’t always to hand. Luckily you can achieve a similar finish with the zig zag stitch on your home sewing machine and we’re here to show you how to do it.

How to sew a single hem step-by-step


Zigzag stitch edge. Set your machine to zig zag stitch and sew along the edge of your fabric. Sew as close as you can get, don’t worry if that’s not right to the edge you can always trim it after, just be careful not to snip the stitches.


Fold and Press. Press the hem to the finished width that you need it.


Straight stitch. Pin in place, set you machine back to a straight stitch and sew along the inner edge of the zigzag stitch line.


Trim. Trim off any excess fabric along the edge of the zig zag stitch, just be careful not to snip it!

Often this sort of hem will be recommended with an invisible or blind stitch which you sew by hand.

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