Which Hand Hem Stitch Is Best for My Project?

I’m not a huge fan of hand sewing, but when it comes to hand sewing a hem there just isn’t a machine comparison. A hand-sewn hem is beautiful, couture, and if done right, almost invisible. I always hand hem all dress pants and most skirts that I make.

But how do you choose the right hand stitch for the item that you’re working on? I’ve put together a list of five different hand hemming stitches and compared their advantages and disadvantages. You can refer to this list whenever you need to hand hem an item. Then, below the list are mini tutorials for how to hem by hand five different ways. 

How to hem by hand

Hand hemming stitches summary chart

Stitch

Uses

Edge finish needed

Advantages

Disadvantages

Slip stitch

Lightweight fabric

Clean finish, folded finish

Durable, practically invisible

Takes a long time

Catch stitch

Knits

It can’t be flat. It needs a folded finish.

Stretches, strong, finishes edge, stretches

Lots of thread, takes a long time

Felling or vertical hemming Stitch

Any fabric weight

Any edge finish except thread covered

Versatile, durable, no thread exposed, fairly fast

Not for thread covered

Blind Hem by Hand

Any fabric weight

Any

Veersatile, no exposed thread

None

Blind Hem by Machine

Medium or heavy weight, prints

Any

Fast, strong, not by hand

Only on prints, shows more, takes practice, can’t use pins

Blind catch stitch

Any weight

Any

Versatile, no exposed threads, stretch

None

How to hem by hand

Slip stitch

1. Thread the needle with a single thread and tie a knot at one end. Insert the needle into the fold between layers and come up through the fold. Make sure the knot anchors the thread.

2. Grab a tiny bit of the garment fabric with your needle. Moving left 1/4″-1/2″ grab a tiny bit of the folded hem. Moving left another 1/4″-1/2″ grab a tiny bit of the garment fabric. Repeat all the way around the hem.

How to hem by hand: slip stitch

Catch stitch

1. Thread the needle with a single thread and tie a knot at one end. Insert the needle into the fold between layers and come up through the fold. Make sure the knot anchors the thread.

2. Grab a tiny bit of the garment fabric with your needle. Moving right (but pointing your needle left) 1/4″-1/2″ grab a tiny bit of the folded hem. Moving right (but pointing your needle left) another 1/4″-1/2″ grab a tiny bit of the garment fabric. Repeat all the way around the hem.

catch-stitch-tutorial

How to Hem By Hand: Catch Stitch

Felling or vertical hemming stitch

1. Thread the needle with a single thread and tie a knot at one end. Insert the needle into the fold between layers and come up through the fold. Make sure the knot anchors the thread.

2. Grab a tiny bit of the garment fabric with your needle. Moving left 1/4″-1/2″ grab a tiny bit of the folded hem. Instead of moving grab a tiny bit of the garment fabric right above the stitch. Moving left another 1/4″-1/2″ grab a tiny bit of the folded hem. Repeat all the way around the hem.

felling-stitch

felling-stitch-finished

Blind hem by hand

1. Fold the garment fabric so that about 1/4″ of the hem allowance is showing. The inside of the garment should be facing you with the 1/4″ of the hem allowance up.

2. Thread the needle with a single thread and tie a knot at one end. Insert the needle into the hem allowance. Make sure the knot anchors the thread.

3. Grab a tiny bit of the fold with your needle. Moving left 1/4″-1/2″ grab a tiny bit of the hem allowance. Moving left another 1/4″-1/2″ grab a tiny bit of the fold. Repeat all the way around the hem.

How to hem by hand: Blind Hem

blind-hem-by-hand-stitch

how-to-blind-hem-by-hand

Blind catch stitch

1. Fold the garment fabric so that about 1/4″ of the hem allowance is showing. The inside of the garment should be facing you with the 1/4″ of the hem allowance up.

2. Thread the needle with a single thread and tie a knot at one end. Insert the needle into the hem allowance. Make sure the knot anchors the thread.

3. Grab a tiny bit of the fold with your needle. Moving right (but pointing your needle left) 1/4″-1/2″ grab a tiny bit of the hem allowance. Moving right (but pointing your needle left) another 1/4″-1/2″ grab a tiny bit of the fold. Repeat all the way around the hem.

blind-catch-stitchBlind Catch StitchHow to Blind Catch Stitch
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