How to Sew a Machine Blindstitch Hem

comments (12) October 7th, 2008     

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CalPatch cal patch, contributor
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When finished with this hem, you should only see tiny dot stitches where the zigzags stiched into the fold.
See if you have a symbol on your machine that looks similar to #28 on mine.
This is how to fold and press the hem in preparation for sewing.
When finished with this hem, you should only see tiny dot stitches where the zigzags stiched into the fold.

When finished with this hem, you should only see tiny dot stitches where the zigzags stiched into the fold.

Photo: Cal Patch

Blind hems were once standard procedure, but we've grown accustomed to our mass-produced clothing having visible, topstitched hems. What I bet you don't realize, though, is that your very own sewing machine has a blind-hem function that can save you hours of hand stitching and give you professional-quality invisible hems. Now you're probably thinking, "Not MY machine!" but the odds are that even your machine, no matter how old or cheap it may be, does it. Take a look at the stitch symbols and look for one like the #28 below:


See if you have a symbol on your machine that looks similar to #28 on mine.

It's basically a straight stitch with one zigzag every four or five stitches. Who knew? Here's how you use it:

1. Prepare your hem. The key to this simple technique is in the preparation. Fold up (toward the wrong side) your hem by about 1/2 inch and press. Then fold another 1 inch or so and press again. These measurements are somewhat flexible, but you'll need a minimum of 1/4 inch for the first fold and 1/2 inch for the second.


This is how to fold and press the hem in preparation for sewing.

2. Pin the hem. The placement of your pins is important for this stitch to work properly, so pin exactly as I did in the photo below: Pins are perpendicular to the hemline and placed at least 1/4 inch down from the upper fold so that the whole hem can be flipped up to expose its top edge for the stitching. 


Place pins perpendicular to the hemline and at least 1/4 inch down from the upper fold.

Flip up the hem toward the right side, exposing the flap that is the top edge of the hem.

3. Ready to sew! As I said, once you've pinned the double-folded hem, flip it up (toward the right side) so that when you are looking at the wrong side, you will see about 1/4 inch sticking out from underneath your (flipped) fold.


You will be stitching mainly on this flap, which extends beyond the flipped-back fold.

Most of the stitching will take place on this flap; this is part of the hem (not the garment), and the stitching will not show from the right side. Begin stitching so that the straight stitches are approximately centered on the flap.


The straight stitches will be almost centered on the flap...

Use your flywheel so that you are stitching in slow motion until the first zigzag. Before the needle comes down, check that it will be nipping into just one or two threads of the fold.


...and the zigzags will nip into the fold by just one or two threads.

If not, lift the presser foot and move the fold over so that the needle will just barely catch it. This fold is the garment itself, and the stitches that zigzag into the fold will show from the right side. (Note: For demonstration purposes, I used a dark brown thread in my sample, so that the stitching is clearly visible. You should work with a matching thread to make a truly invisible hem!) Once you have worked out your placement, continue sewing the entire length of your hem.


Here's a close-up of the completed stitching. Note how the straight stitches are only in the flap, and the zigzags just barely catch the fold.

4. Press your hem. When you are done sewing, flip the hem back down to its original position and press. From the right side, you should only see tiny dot stitches where the zigzags stitched into the fold. The farther into the fold the stitch reached, the longer the stitch. Practice on some scraps until you're comfortable, then try your new technique on a skirt or some dressier pants. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be amazed by how "invisible" a hem can be!


posted in: fabric, pant, skirt, hem, blind stitch

Comments (12)

ImogenPatch writes: How wonderful to finally find out how to do hemming on my machine! Hurrah! And to find another Patch as well!
Posted: 3:56 pm on October 10th
Joalle writes: Finally! I'm going to try this on some scraps this evening! My 40 year old, steel-cased Kenmore (it has only had one repair in all these years and the serviceman told me not to get rid of it!)is a wonderful machine and it has this blind stitch, but for the life of me I could not understand the instructions - so I have always hand-stiched my hems! THANKS!
Posted: 1:21 pm on January 15th
sittingbright writes: Thanks CalPatch for the clear instructions. My machine setting (PFaff) looks a bit different but after testing it out, I blindstitched my first skirt last night in no time!
Posted: 6:19 pm on May 9th
christinem28 writes: I can't thank you enough!! I sew but I never formally learned how to blind stitch a hemline. My sons junior prom is tomorrow and I needed to hem his suit pants. Your step by step instructions were so easy to follow, better than any book I looked in, and the results were perfect! Thank you again!
Posted: 7:35 pm on April 29th
Eternal_Clouds writes: that is too cool thanks for this want to try it right away
Posted: 10:33 am on March 8th
Shaheen writes: I fully agree with StatGirl, this is a great tutorial. I have tried so many times to do this stitch on hubby's pants and always ended up doing it by hand. The directions for my sewing machine were too confusing so I decided to do a search, and lucky me, I found aterrific web site and clear, precise directions. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Posted: 5:13 pm on February 18th
SewMuch1920 writes: I was the lucky daughter to get my mother's 1966 robin's egg blue singer which (not so surprisingly) has this feature. It involves switching out a disc on the inside of the sewing machine, but it isn't so bad.

I knew I'd have to do a funky 'z' fold to make this stitch, but I always thought it would be more complicated than its worth, because I'd need to constantly read just the fold. By pinning exactly 1/4" in and pressing, it is really easy to do.

Thanks, sara
Posted: 11:18 pm on January 14th
Krista319 writes: Thank you for these incredibly helpful directions. I attempted to use my sewing maching manual but it was so difficult to follow. When I asked my mom about how to do it, she commented that she only knew how to do it by hand. After reading your directions, I was actually able to blind stitch hem 3 uniform jumpers of my daughter's in less than an hour. Amazing! Thanks again!
Posted: 4:15 pm on November 15th
CalPatch writes: hi linda! i'm not exactly sure which type of puckering you mean (is it the straight stitches or the zig-zags?), but here are a few thoughts that might help:

1. if you take too big a "bite" into the fold, it can cause a pucker, and also the stitch will be bigger than a dot on the right side (more like a LINE).
2. you might need to adjust the machine tension if the zig-zag is causing a pucker.
3. often, when i flip the hem back down, it does still look pucker-y and/or the hem wants to flip back up, but after a good pressing it usually stays nice and flat.

let me know if any of that helps, otherwise you might need to send me a photo ;n)
Posted: 6:49 pm on October 19th
LindaPermann writes: hey cal- here's a question for you-- whenever i try this, the blind stitch seems to pucker a bit (between stitches... so it almost still wants to be foldy on the right side). any tips on preventing that?
Posted: 5:42 pm on October 16th
kaytet writes: thanks cal! i always handstitch my hems and it takes forever!

Posted: 9:50 pm on October 7th
StatGirl writes: Thanks! I've always been clueless about this. Great tutorial!!
Posted: 1:40 pm on October 7th
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