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Hemming 101: A Guide To Different Types Of Hems

In this tutorial, I’ll cover the different types of hems that you can use depending on the fabric and the desired look. For example, a basic hem is created by folding the raw edge of the fabric under twice and stitching it in place. A blind hem, on the other hand, is a more advanced technique that creates an almost invisible hem. Knowing how to sew a hem is an essential skill for any sewist. 

You know the feeling – you’re walking down the street in your brand new trousers, feeling like a fashion icon, but then you realize your pants are slowly gathering a collection of dirt and grime from the ground. And you’re even tripping over your pant legs, trying to avoid getting tangled up like a cartoon character. But fear not – with a little bit of hemming magic, you’ll have those pants looking like they were made for you in no time. 

Hemming may sound like a fancy word, but it’s an important sewing technique that involves finishing the raw edge of a piece of fabric to prevent it from unraveling and is often used to shorten the length of a garment.

Types of hems - a sewing tutorial

What is a hem?

So, what exactly is a hem? Well, simply put, a hem is the folded edge of a piece of fabric that is sewn in place to create a neat, finished look. It’s usually found at the bottom of garments, like dresses, pants or skirts, but can also be used on sleeves and other edges. 

Hems are a part of everything from clothing to curtains (and other home decor items) and come in various styles. They can be decorative, functional, or both, depending on the item’s intended use. The purpose of a hem is to prevent fraying and unraveling of the fabric, while also providing a visually appealing finish. 

There are many different types of hems, including a straight hem, a curved hem, a rolled hem, a blind hem, etc. Each type serves a slightly different purpose and can be created using different sewing techniques.

✅ Related article: How To Hem Curtains: Your Total Guide

Categories Of Hems

There are two broad categories of hems: clothing hems and drapery hems. 

Unless you make fancy curtains, they generally have a simple hem, such as a single-fold hem. Drapes’ hems can be hand-sewn, machine-sewn, or hemmed with hemming tape, depending on the time you have and the final look you want.

Hems on clothing, however, can vary quite a bit depending on the project, material, and final look you want. These hems can be simple and practical or more complex and decorative. You can also hand-stitch or machine-stitch them based on the type of stitch and fabric you’re using.

Sewing Hems By Hand vs. With A Sewing Machine

When choosing whether to pull out your sewing machine or hem by hand, the decision comes down to how you want the final garment to look once done and how much time you want to spend making the hem. 

✅ Related article: How To Hem A Dress With A Sewing Machine

For example, you probably wouldn’t want to sew a hem on your drapes by hand when your sewing machine can do it much faster and neater. On the other hand, you may want to sew a blind hem on a velvet dress by hand.


This is my velvet dress and I describe it in my tutorial Machine embroidery on leather.

Hand-sewn hems take longer to complete than machine-sewn hems but are an excellent option for lightweight or delicate fabrics. 

Machine-sewn hems offer professional finishes that you see on store-bought items. They’re faster, more efficient, and the preferred choice for hemming heavier materials.  

Finally, when hemming, there’s a third option. Instead of sewing, simply place hemming tape where you want the seam, fold the fabric, and iron it. The heat will activate the adhesive to create a permanent bond that’s very durable. 

It can be a great option for hems that you need to make quickly or where you don’t want to see any stitching after it’s finished. Check out How To Easily Hem Pants Without Sewing to learn more.

A well-made hem can make all the difference in the look of a garment or curtain. With some practice, you’ll be able to hem anything you want in no time.

My Favorite Types Of Hems

One time I saw a comment from a reader that said, “Isn’t there just one type of hem?” That really stood out to me because, actually, a simple dress can have numerous styles of hem finishing.

Hems are essential for giving your project a finished look. But with so many types of hems out there, which one is best for your project? Here’s a guide to the different types of hems I use for my sewing projects. 

Single-Fold Hem

The single-fold hem is the most basic hem and is exactly what it sounds like: you fold the edge of a piece of fabric over once and sew it in place (or glue it with hem tape). Since it’s probably the one used very often, it’s perfect for new sewists to learn.


This actually the hem I prefer for my projects. Before sewing the hem, I usually finish the raw edge of the fabric with my serger. This is a great way to prevent the fabric from fraying and ensure that my single-fold hem stays neat and tidy over time.

✅ Related article: Serger vs. sewing machine

Typically I use a thread color that matches the fabric on this type of hem. 

Although it can be sewn by hand, your sewing machine will make quick work of it and deliver professional-looking results.

This is an image of the dress featuring the preferred single-fold hem above. I have a tutorial on how to sew this dress – How To Make Your Own Beautifully Tailored Dress – A Step-by-Step Sewing Tutorial

Beautifully Tailored Dress Tutorial

Double-Fold Hem

The double-fold hem is similar to the single fold, but it’s more secure and hides the raw edge to deliver a cleaner, more polished look. This hem is a good choice for woven fabrics that are likely to unravel. 

When you make a double-fold hem you fold the edge of a piece of fabric over twice and sew it in place. It’s a bit more durable than a single-fold hem because the raw edge is completely tucked in. You can use it to finish the edges of things like skirts, pants, blouses, jackets, etc. To make one, you’ll need to fold the edge over once, press it, and fold it over again. Finally, sew the folded edge in place.

Double-fold hem can be wide and narrow. 

Below is an image of a lining I made for a skirt and the lining has a double-fold hem. I also used decorative stitches of my sewing machine to finish the hem. 


Narrow Hem

A narrow hem is a type of hem with a very small, neat edge. It’s often used on lightweight and sheer fabrics like chiffon, satin, and organza, where a wider hem would be too bulky. You can use it on the edges of things like scarves, camisoles, blouses, dresses, etc. It’s perfect for hems on curved edges, like circle skirts. To make one, you’ll need to fold the edge over once or twice and sew it in place. It may take a bit of practice to get the hang of it.  


Using a Ban Roll tape is a quick and easy way to get great-looking results.

how to make a narrow hem using a Ban Roll tape

You can also use a serger/ overlock to make a narrow hem on your fabric. Modern sergers have a special stitch called a narrow hem that uses three threads to create a neat edge. If you set the machine correctly, your hem will look great, almost like a rolled hem. So, using a serger is an easy way to make a professional-looking narrow hem on your fabric.

✅ Related tutorial: Review of JUKI serger MO-2000 QVP

Rolled Hem

A rolled hem adds a delicate and finished look to any garment and is great for sheer or lightweight fabrics such as chiffon, satin, and organza. It can also work well with some knit fabrics. And a rolled hem can be a fun way to add detail to homemade tablecloths and napkins.


The method involves rolling (almost double-folding) the hem and then creating a smooth, thread-wrapped edge with a serger/overlocker or a sewing machine.

If you want to learn more about making a rolled hem with a serger, check out my tutorial How to Make a Rolled Hem with a Serger:  Get Professional Results

✅ Related tutorial: Best Serger For Beginners: Serger Buying Guide in 2023

Blind Hem

Blind hems are invisible (well, almost invisible, it depends, right?) from the right side of the fabric, so they’re the most challenging type of hem to make. However, it gives the most professional-looking results for dressy clothing (ex: dress slacks). 

It’s created by folding the fabric over and sewing it in place using a special blind hem stitch that catches only a tiny bit of the fabric on the right side of the garment. This creates a series of small, nearly invisible stitches (especially if you are using a matching thread) on the wrong side of the garment that holds the hem in place.


And this is my silk dress that has a blind hem shown above.

my silk dress with a blind hem made by sewing machine

A blind hem is used for garments where you want the hem to be as inconspicuous as possible, such as formal wear, dress pants, dresses and skirts. If you want to learn how to sew a blind hem, head on over to my tutorial Blind hem foot: How to sew an invisible hem with a sewing machine.

A blind hem can be also sewn by hand. Here is an example.

my dress with a blind hem made by hand

You can also use a serger to sew a blind hem. In fact, there is a special foot for sergers called a blind hem foot that can help you make the hem even more easily. However, if you don’t have this special foot, you can still make a blind hem using a regular serger foot. To learn how to make a blind hem with a serger, you can check out my tutorial How to make a gathered skirt with an elastic waist without a pattern.

Hemming by serger

Serged Hem

A serged hem, also known as an overlock hem, is a type of hemming technique that uses a serger to trim and finish the raw edge of the fabric. The serger has multiple threads and blades that work together to trim and finish the fabric’s edge simultaneously.


I used this type of hems on my beach dress and you can find a detailed tutorial on my site – DIY beach dress sewing tutorial plus how to make a beach cover-up pattern.

serged hem dress

Serging is commonly used for hemming knit or stretchy fabrics, where a traditional folded hem may not work as well. The serged edge helps to prevent fraying and unraveling, which is essential for garments that will undergo frequent washing and wear. It’s a visible stitch, so you can use a matching color to make it less noticeable or a contrasting one to add a pop of color.

Serged hems are also used for decorative purposes, such as adding a pop of color to the edge of a garment or creating a unique, textured finish. The serger can be set up with different thread colors and types, such as metallic or variegated threads, to add visual interest to the hem.

✅ Related tutorial: The Self-Threading Serger – Yes, It Exists!

Coverstitch Hem

A coverstitch hem is used to create a neat and professional finish on knit fabrics. It’s achieved using a special machine called a coverstitch machine that has two needles and a looper. The needles create two parallel rows of straight stitching on the top of the fabric while the looper creates a serger-like stitch on the back that covers the raw edge.

It creates a professional-looking finish that resembles the hems found on store-bought clothing.


This type of hemming is commonly used on t-shirts, leggings, and other stretchy knit garments. The coverstitch allows the hem to stretch with the fabric, preventing it from popping or breaking when the garment is worn or washed.

This is my dress with the coverstitch hem shown above.

Coverstitching can also be used for decorative purposes, such as adding a contrasting color thread to the hem. 

✅ Related tutorial: Coverstitch vs. Serger

Cuffed Hem

A cuffed hem is a type of hemming technique where the bottom edge of the garment is sewn in place to create a cuff. This cuff can be a single layer or double layer, depending on the desired thickness and style.

Cuffed hems are commonly used on pants, shorts, and sleeves of garments. They provide a neat and finished look to the garment and also help to prevent the fabric from fraying. Cuffs can be made from the same fabric as the garment or contrasting fabric to add a decorative element.

One of the benefits of a cuffed hem is that it allows for easy adjustments to the length of the garment. If the garment is too long, the cuff can be unfolded to increase the length, and if it’s too short, the cuff can be folded up more to decrease the length.

Below is an example of a cuffed hem on my house pants. 


Faced Hem

A faced hem is a type of hem that involves adding a separate piece of fabric to the edge of a garment to create a finished edge. This additional fabric is called a facing, and it’s usually made from the same fabric as a garment, but it also can be made from a lightweight fabric that won’t add bulk to the garment. The facing is attached to the hemline of the garment and then folded over to the inside. 

A faced hem can be used when you want to add a decorative element to the edge of a garment, or when you want to add extra stability to the hemline. It’s commonly used on dresses, skirts, and jackets.

A faced hem can be used when you don’t have enough fabric to fold for a regular hem or have shaped hemlines (ex: curved or scalloped). 

Since it uses a separate piece of fabric, you can have some fun with it and make your faced hem a different fabric for a pop of contrast. Even if you go for a classic (matching) look, a faced hem will make the inside of your garment look nice.

I don’t use this type of hems often but here is an example. 


Embroidered Hem

An embroidered hem is a decorative technique where an embroidery design is stitched onto the edge of a fabric hem using an embroidery machine. 


To create an embroidered hem, you can start by selecting a design that complements the fabric and the garment. 

Embroidered hems are particularly popular for special occasions such as weddings and formal events. 

Embroidered hems are a fun way to personalize your sewing projects and add a touch of uniqueness to your garments.

This is my dress with the embroidered hem.

embroidered hem dress

Bound Hem (or Bias Tape Hem)

A bound hem is a type of hem that is finished by enclosing the raw edge of the fabric within a separate strip of fabric, often referred to as binding or bias tape. The binding strip is typically cut on the bias, meaning it is cut diagonally across the grain of the fabric, which allows it to stretch and curve around the hemline smoothly.

We may use a bound hem for a few reasons. It can add a decorative touch to the garment, particularly if a contrasting fabric is used for the binding. It can provide additional stability to the hemline, which can be especially important for fabrics that are prone to fraying or stretching out of shape. Also, a bound hem can provide a neat and clean finish on both sides of the fabric, making it ideal for items that may be seen from both sides, such as a reversible garment.

A bound hem is a go-to choice for curved hems where other methods can cause puckering or when working with heavier materials because it doesn’t add bulk. 

Bound hems can be used on different types of garments, such as dresses, skirts, pants, and jackets. Bias tape can be made using a variety of fabrics and colors to add a decorative touch. 


Fabrics To Use For Hemming

When it comes to hems, the fabric you use is just as important as the hem you make. Different materials require different types of hems, so it’s important to know what kind of hem to use for specific fabrics.

Knit Hems 

Depending on what you’re making, there are several different types of hems that are most popular with knit fabrics, including:

  • Zigzag stitch hem
  • Rolled hem
  • Coverstitch hem
  • Raw hem

Learn more by reading my tutorial 11 Ways To Hem Knit Fabric With A Serger Or Sewing Machine.

Woven Hems

The type of hem that’s best for woven fabrics will vary based on what you’re making. However, all of these hem styles can be good choices:

  • Single fold hem
  • Double fold hem
  • Narrow hem
  • Rolled hem
  • Blind hem
  • Faced hem
  • Piped hem
  • Bound hem
  • Cuffed

Leather And Vinyl Hems

Leather and vinyl are unique materials because they don’t fray, so sometimes you don’t even need to use any hemming techniques that cover raw edges.

“Less is more” when it comes to hemming leather and vinyl, so a single-fold hem will often be your go-to choice. 

I like to use leather in my sewing projects. Sometimes I just cut the hem as you can see in the images below – this is a leather skirt. 

leather hem
leather hem on skirt

And sometimes I use special glue to make a hem. This is another leather skirt I made.

leather hem
leather skirt

Types of Hems According To How The Bottom Edge Looks

When it comes to fashion, the details make the outfit, and one of the most important details is the hem of a garment. 

Now that we’ve covered the different types of hems (according to stitch type) and garments they are best suited for, we next need to review different types of hems based on how the bottom edge looks.

Straight Hem

The straight hem is the most basic and common type of hem. This type of hem is used on all garments, from skirts and dresses to pants and shorts. Curtains usually have a straight hem. 

A straight hem must be the same width all the way around the garment.

hemmed curtain

Curved Hem

A curved hem refers to a hemline that has a curved shape instead of being straight.


This type of hemline is often used on garments like dresses, skirts, and shirts to create a flattering shape and add visual interest to the design. The curve can be subtle or dramatic, depending on the style of the garment.

The curved edge needs to be sewn carefully to avoid puckering or distortion of the fabric.

If you want to learn more about how to sew a curved hem, then you won’t want to miss my detailed tutorial – Top 20 simple (and not so simple) ways to sew a curved hem. I cover the basics of creating a curved hem, as well as some more advanced techniques that will take your sewing skills to the next level. You’ll learn how to mark and cut your fabric for a perfect curve, how to sew the hem without puckering or distortion, and how to finish the edges for a professional-looking result.

Raw Edge Hem

A raw edge hem is a hemline that is intentionally left unfinished with no folding or sewing involved.

A raw edge hem is a trendy and unique way to finish off a garment, but it may not be the most durable or practical option for all projects. This type of hem is commonly used on knit fabric to make casual garments, such as shirts, tank tops or skirts. Since the knit material doesn’t fray, it can be left unfinished. 

Here is an example of a raw hem on the skirt I made. 


The raw edge hem creates a relaxed, carefree vibe and can add some visual interest to the garment.

However, it’s important to note that raw edge hems can be prone to fraying or rolling (if it’s made from jersey knits) and may not hold up as well over time. If you choose to use this type of hemline, it’s important to select a fabric that won’t fray too easily.

✅ Related tutorial: Knit Fabric Types By Feature

Frayed Hem

The frayed hem is a type of hem that is intentionally left unfinished where the material does fray. This technique is often used on the bottom of jeans to create a stylish, relaxed, and laid-back look. 

Note: If you leave this hem unfinished, you will likely notice it grow over time (and with wear and tear).

Here is an example of a frayed hem on my tunic. I have a tutorial to show you how I use scrap silk fabric to make this garment –  How to upcycle an old dress.

frayed hem blouse

Fringed Hem

Fringe hems are a popular design element in fashion, especially for boho or western-inspired looks. They can add texture and movement to the garment, as well as a unique and eye-catching detail.

A fringed hem is similar to a frayed hem in that it involves creating an intentionally unfinished edge on a garment. However, with a fringed hem, the fringed edge has the same width all the way around, and the threads are cut from the material deliberately. To achieve a uniform and consistent fringe, it’s important to carefully measure and mark the fabric before cutting. You can also experiment with the length and thickness of the fringe to create different effects.

Also, a fringed hem in woven material isn’t left truly unfinished. Instead, add a row of stitching (ex: straight stitching or zigzag stitching) where you want the fringe to stop.


And this is what the skirt with the fringed hem looks like.

a fringed hem I made for my skirt

It’s worth noting that fringe hems may not be the most practical option for all projects, as the fringed edges can be prone to fraying and may require extra care when washing and handling. However, for the right garment and occasion, a fringe hem can be a fun and playful way to add some personality to your sewing projects.

Lettuce Hem

A lettuce edge hem (named for curly leaves of lettuce) is an attractive hem that only works on lightweight stretchy fabrics. It’s a hemming technique that doesn’t add any bulk and can be made with a serger or a narrow zigzag stitch of your sewing machine.

As you sew the hemline, you will need to gently stretch the fabric so that it ruffles and forms the wavy lettuce effect. You can adjust the amount of stretch to create a more or less pronounced lettuce hem, depending on your preference.

Lettuce hems are a popular design element in fashion, especially for more feminine and flirty looks. They can add visual interest to a garment and create a playful, whimsical effect.


My new duster with a lettuce hem.

lettuce hem on my new duster

Learn more by reading How To Sew A Lettuce Hem.

Asymmetrical Hem

The asymmetrical hem is a type of hem that is not straight across and is intentionally uneven, with one side shorter or longer than the other.

Asymmetrical hems can take many different forms, from a simple diagonal line to a more complex, multi-layered design. They can be used on a variety of garments, from dresses and skirts to tops and jackets.

When working with an asymmetrical hem, it’s important to carefully plan and measure the design to ensure that the finished garment looks intentional and well-balanced. You may also need to adjust other elements of the garment, such as the neckline or sleeves, to create a harmonious overall look.

Overall, an asymmetrical hem is a stylish way to add some interest and personality to your sewing projects.


A high-low hem is a hem that is purposely cut at different lengths. For example, the front may be shorter than the back, or the hem may be short in the middle and get longer out towards the sides of the garment.

This type of hem is usually used for items such as skirts, dresses, and blouses. High-low hems are a popular design element in fashion. They can create a relaxed, flowing silhouette that is flattering and easy to wear.

When creating a high-low hem, it’s important to consider the garment’s overall design, as well as the fabric and drape of the material. Proper planning and careful measurements are crucial to achieving a balanced and intentional look.

high low hem dress


A bubble hem is a type of hemline on clothing that creates a rounded, puffy shape at the bottom of the garment. It’s achieved by gathering the fabric around the hemline, which causes it to billow out and create a bubble-like effect. It’s a hem style that was popular in the 1980s and is becoming popular again.

Bubble hems can be found on a variety of clothing items, including dresses, skirts, and even tops. They can be subtle and small, or more exaggerated and voluminous depending on the style.

A bubble hem is a fun and fashionable way to add some personality to your wardrobe, and it can be a great option for anyone looking to create a unique and eye-catching look.



A slit hem is a type of hemline that features a small opening or slit at the bottom of a garment, such as a skirt, jacket, or dress. The slit is usually straight and located at the back or the side of the garment, depending on the desired style.

Once I made 2 slits at the back of my dress.


Slit hems can serve a few different purposes. First and foremost, they can make it easier to move around in a garment, particularly if the item is fitted or has a narrow hemline. Additionally, slit hems can add a bit of visual interest to a garment, breaking up an otherwise solid line and adding a sexy touch to the garment.

my dress with slit hem

Ruffled, Pleated or Finished with Trims 

A ruffled hem features one or more rows of ruffles ( or gathers) sewn onto the bottom of a garment to create a wavy, frilly effect.

Ruffled hems can be used to add volume and movement to a garment, as well as to create a playful or feminine look. They are often seen on skirts, dresses, and tops, and can be made with a wide variety of fabrics, from lightweight chiffon to heavier cotton or wool.

To create a ruffled hem, the fabric is typically gathered or pleated using a gathering stitch or a ruffler foot attachment on a sewing machine. The ruffles are then sewn onto the bottom of the garment, either in a single layer or in multiple layers.



A shirttail hem is often seen on shirts and blouses, especially on men’s dress shirts, which typically has two elongated points that are meant to be worn tucked into trousers.

A shirttail hem is characterized by a gently curved shape that dips down slightly in the front and back, creating two “tails” that hang down on either side of the garment. This type of hemline is often used to create a relaxed, casual look, and it can be particularly flattering on women’s garments that are meant to be worn untucked, as it helps to create a smooth line across the hips.


In conclusion: No matter what type of hem you’re looking to sew, understanding the basics of hemming is essential to creating a professional-looking garment. With a little practice and patience, you can master the art of hemming and create beautiful clothes with ease.

Did you find this tutorial helpful? If so, save this pin (see below) on your sewing board so you can come to the article later when you need this information on different types of hems, and follow me on Pinterest for more tips, tutorials, and inspiration!

types of hems- a sewing tutorial

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