Free Sewing Tip: How To Make a Perfect Shirt Tail Hem

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Video transcript:

Hi, I’m Pam Howard, and I’m a sewing instructor at What I’d like to show you in a simpler shirttail hem technique. And what I’ve done so far is a guide stitch five-eighths of an inch away from the cut edge at about 3.5 stitch length on the sewing machine.

The next step is going to be to press that hem up right above the guide stitch that you made, so that you can see it. And you’re just going to keep following that curve until you get back down to the front, which this represents.

So, as you see, what we’ve done is to press right above that guide stitch so that you won’t see it on the outside of the garment.

The next thing we need to do is go over to the machine so I can you show the finger-felling technique for the shirttail hem. But what I’ll show you, before we go to the machine, is the actual technique. You’re going to use your two index fingers on your left hand, and you’re going to push the top of the fabric back down into the well of the fold that you just made when you pressed. And with linen, you cans finger-press it real well before you get over to the machine. So we’ll do just a couple inches of it being finger-pressed. But this the technique for once we get over to the machine.

Okay, I think I’ve done enough for you to see. I’m going to take it to the machine, and we’re going to get the machine back down to 2.5 stitch length, which is the normal stitch length for sewing a shirt, anyway. So you’re going to rotate your needle down into the fabric, right into at the end. Hold on to your threads to get started to help pull that through. And you’re going to continue to push the fabric down until it folds, back down into the well of where you pressed to create your shirttail hem. And so as you can see, you don’t need a special foot for this technique, if you just take your time and sew. Just press it in with the ends of your two fingers, and sew. It’s an edge stitch—you’re right along the edge, about a sixteenth of an inch from the edge where you folded it. And you’re going to continue to finger fell in and sew all at the same time.

Some fabrics are going to be harder for you to continue to do this. You may have to pin in a few sections. But linen is very forgiving. So if you’re making a linen shirt with a shirttail technique, you should be good to go to do your finger felling.

So now we’re done, and we’re going to go ahead and cut our threads. Do one more press, and I’ll show what it looks like from the outside of your shirt. Also, keep in mind that this is just a guide stitch—this first stitch you put in, which is about 3.5 stitch length—so you’re going to be able to pull that out. It won’t remain in your shirt. And this is your finished hem. You just have one stitch there. You don’t see the guide stitch, because it’s recessed under where you folded. And this is your simple shirttail hem.

If you’d like to learn more about shirtmaking techniques, join me at my class, the Classic Tailored Shirt. I’m Pam Howard at

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