How to hem Jeans, with Bernina


Have you ever tried to hem a pair of jeans?

If you have, you probably realize that there are a few special considerations, both because of the fabric (denim is thick!) and the look (decorative topstitching).

For your next pair of jeans, I’d like to point you to this wonderful tutorial from the folks at the Bernina blog, WeAllSew.

It covers:

  • Minimizing bulk in the seams.
  • How to press the hem properly using a clapper.
  • Getting the topstitching to look just right.
  • Using the hump jumper to get over bulky seams.

If you still need a little more guidance, Bernina also has a handy video on hemming jeans.

Check out the tutorial and the video (along with lots of other handy tutorials) over at WeAllSew.

This post was written in partnership with Bernina, my favorite sewing machine company and one of our sponsors for this month. Thanks Bernina!

Like what you read here? Subscribe to our blog via email so you don’t skip a stitch! And sign up for our weekly Snippets email for even more sewing tips and tricks.


4 ways to sew a turned hem


There’s no doubt that the easiest way to sew a hem is to do a simple turned hem on your sewing machine. With no handstitching required, this hem is fast, easy, and efficient.

Because the stitching from a turned hem shows on the outside of your garment, turned hems tend to have a very casual look. I like to use them on casual dresses, shirts and blouses, and everyday pants and shorts, like jeans.

There are several ways you can create a turned hem, and we’re going to cover each of them. The hem you choose depends on the shape of your garment and the type of fabric you’re using.


1) A folded edge hem

This is the simplest turned hem, and one you’re probably used to sewing. It involves turning your hem a small amount, then turning again and edgestitching in place.

When to use it:

  • Fairly straight hems. This hem works best if there isn’t a huge amount of flare in your garment. It’s fine for most pants and shorts, works well for most blouses, and can be used on skirts with a straight or a-line shape without difficulty.
  • With fabric that won’t show bulk. If your fabric is thick, make sure it won’t show a lot of bulk. Denim works well with this hem because it’s so stiff that bulky seams and hems aren’t noticable.

  • With opaque fabric. If your fabric is sheer, the edge may show through with this hem. For sheer fabrics, you’re better off with the twice-turned hem (see below) or a rolled hem.

How to do it

1) Determine your hem allowance. Decide how wide you want your finished hem to be. If your hem is very flared, use a more narrow hem allowance. If it’s straight, you may use a hem allowance of 1 inch or more. Add 1/4″ to this amount for the total hem allowance and adjust your pattern if needed. For example, if you want a finished 1″ hem, you should cut a hem allowance that is 1 1/4″.


2) Turn the raw edge of the hem under 1/4″ and press.


3) Turn the rest of the hem allowance again and pin in place all the way around. Use a tape measure or seam gauge to make sure the hem is even all the way around. Press.


5) From the wrong side, edgestitch the folded edge in place. An edgestitch foot is recommended. Start and end the stitching at a side seam, backstitching to secure.


6) Give the hem a final press.


2) A curved folded hem

If you are sewing a skirt with more of a flare at the hem, you can sew a variation on the folded edge hem. This method helps ease any extra fullness into the hem.

When to use it:

  • Flared hems. You can use this technique when you want the easy, casual look of a turned hem but your skirt has a bit too much flare to make that easy.
  • With fabric that won’t show bulk. You especially don’t want to use this technique if it will make your hem look bulky, because the extra fabric from the curve will add a little more bulk than usual. Avoid using it with synthetic fabrics that don’t press well.
  • With opaque fabric. Again, sheer fabric will show the edge beneath, so stick with this technique when there’s no danger of show-through.

How to do it:

See our previous tutorial on curved turned hems for full instructions on this variation.


3) A twice-turned hem

Ok, this one looks a lot like the first one, but in person, it’s slightly bulkier with a little more weight.

A twice-turned hem is basically doubled up. The hem is turned once, then turned again by almost the same amount. This gives the hem added structure and hides shading if your fabric isn’t completely opaque.

When to use it:

  • When you want crispness. The doubled-up hem can add a little extra structure, so it’s a good choice for crisp fabrics like shirting.
  • With fabric that won’t show bulk. This is another one that should be avoided if you’re worried about excess bulk. It’s often used on denim because bulk is easy to hide with such a sturdy fabric. Try sampling this hem with your fabric before you commit to make sure it will look right.
  • With somewhat sheer fabric. If your fabric has a bit of sheerness, like a white shirting or a cotton lawn, the twice-turned hem helps to hide any of the show-through you might get with a folded edge hem.

How to do it

1) 1) Determine your hem allowance. Decide how wide you want your finished hem to be. If your hem is very flared, use a more narrow hem allowance. If it’s straight, you may use a hem allowance of 1 inch or more. Double this amount and add 1/8″ to this amount to account for turn of cloth. Adjust your pattern if needed. For example, if you want a finished 1″ hem, you should cut a hem allowance that is 2 1/8″.


2) Turn the raw edge of the hem under by the finished hem amount. In our exampe above, that would be 1″. Use a tape measure or seam gauge to make sure the hem is even all the way around. Press.


3) Turn the rest of the hem allownce again and press in place. In our example, that is another 1″. The extra 1/8″ will be taken up by the turn of cloth. Pin the hem in place all the way around.


4) From the wrong side, edgestitch the folded edge in place. An edgestitch foot is recommended. Start and end the stitching at a side seam, backstitching to secure.


5) Give the hem a final press.


4) Serged and turned hem

This method is ideal for curved hems or hems that might be in danger of showing a lot of bulk. The raw edge is finished with serging (or another finishing stitch if you don’t have a serger) and eased into place to help control the excess fabric from a curve.

When to use it

  • With a flared shape. This finish is ideal when you want an easy machine-stitched hem for the most flared skirts, like circle skirts, full gathered or pleated skirts, or semi-circles.
  • With bulky fabric. This is also a good choice if your fabric shows bulk, because there’s no turned edge to add extra thickness. Of course, it works with non-bulky fabrics too.
  • With opaque fabric. Because the edge is finished with serging, this isn’t a good choice for sheer fabrics. For a sheer fabric with a curved hem, try a narrow twice-folded hem, a rolled hem, or a baby hem instead.

How to do it

1) Determine your hem allowance. Decide how wide you want your finished hem to be. For flared skirts, a hem of 1 inch or less is ideal.


2) Finish the raw edge with a serger. If you don’t have a serger, you can also use the mock overlock stitch or a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.


3) Sew a row of ease stitches all the way around, close to the serging. Use a stitch length of 4mm and leave long thread tails.


4) Turn the hem allowance up and pin in place. Adjust the ease stitches by pulling on the bobbin thread tail and adjust the easing until the hem lays flat. Use a tape measure or seam gauge to make sure the hem is even all the way around. Press in place.


5) From the wrong side, stitch the folded edge in place. I like to stitch right next to the basting stitches. Start and end the stitching at a side seam, backstitching to secure.


6) Remove the basting stitches. Give the hem a final press.


The turned hem is an easy machine-stitched hem that’s suitable for many casual kinds of clothing. While it’s not always the right choce for every garment, this old standby is easy and can suit many different uses. If you don’t mind the look of visual topstitching at your hem, try one of these techniques.

Whether your hem is flared or straight, whether your fabric is sheer or opaque, and whether your fabric creates bulk or not, there is probably a turned hem technique you can use.

Do you frequently use turned hems?



Weekend Reading: Dressing for success, Barbie, and Pendleton inspiration


As you read this, I’m on a plane headed out for a short trip to Panama City!

Since I’ve got a million things to do in order to prep for this little jaunt, I’ll keep it brief for now and share lots of photos later on – I made two dresses just for the trip that I will be sure to show off.

Let’s dive into the links for now, shall we?

Weekend Reading:

For more links every week, you can follow me on Twitter, where I’m always posting interesting tidbits I find.

image above via colettepatterns on instagram


Giveaway! The Sewtionary


I have a sizable collection of sewing books, most of them 50+ years old.

Most of them just sit on the shelf and are only pulled out when I want to grab a little inspiration. The books I turn to again and again are the reference books, the ones you can pull out whenever you’re stuck and find exactly what you’re looking for. They are like trusted friends, always there to help you out of a jam.

Tasia (of Sewaholic) has written just such a book. The Sewtionary is packed with 101 different sewing techniques, all illustrated with clear photos and understandable instruction.



This is an ideal reference book for a beginner, but I think it would be handy for intermediate sewists as well! Want to add a welt pocket to a dress you’re making? Want to change up the type of zipper you’re using? Need a reminder about padstitching? It’s all covered.





Tasia has generously agreed to give away one copy of The Sewtionary today.

To win, leave a comment below letting me know one technique that you find yourself looking up often. I’ll choose a winner at random (using the random number generator) on Wednesday, Sept 17. Good luck!

ETA: Comments are now closed, thanks for entering! The winner is Danica!

The Blog Tour Stops

If you’d like to follow the rest of the blog tour (as I’m sure there will be more giveaways), here’s the full schedule:


5 ways to hand stitch a hem


While machine sewing a hem is fast and easy, hand sewing can give you a nearly invisible finish. Below are five different options for hand stitching your hems.

Before we begin, let’s go over a few basic techniques that will be the same for all hand stitching.

Anchoring and tying off

Work with an arm length of thread, and anchor/tie off in the hem. To begin sewing, stitch twice in the same place, but do not pull thread all the way through. Pass the needle through the loop twice.


Pull to tighten knot down to fabric.


When you reach the end of your thread or hem, tie a knot in the same way. To hide the tail, pass the needle through the fabric layers without going all the way through. Bring the needle out a couple inches from the knot.


Cut the thread flush with the fabric. The tail will disappear and be hidden between the layers.


For any hand stitching, if you find it difficult to maintain even stitches, a quick marking with a disappearing fabric pen can be very helpful.


In the photos, contrasting thread is being used to make it easier to see, but you will want to use thread that matches your fabric.

And lastly, any right handed directives are bold in the main text, and left handed directives are in italics and parentheses. Hopefully this isn’t too confusing for anyone, but I wanted to make sure everyone could follow along!

Catch stitch

A catch stitch has a bit of elasticity, and the criss crossing of the thread adds strength.


Worked left to right (right to left).

Anchor thread. With needle pointing to the left (right), take up a very small bit of the garment fabric just above the fold of the hem. Try to make your stitch very small as it will be visible from the right side.


Pull up thread. Move the needle a bit to the right (left) – about 1/4″ to 1/2”. Take up a small amount of the hem fabric with the needle still facing to the left (right).


Continue to complete hem.


Your stitching will look like little “x’s”.


Blind stitch

A blind stitch is barely visible from either side.


Press hem allowance into a double fold hem. Fold hem towards right side of garment so that finished edge sticks out by about 1/8”.


Anchor thread. Working right to left (left to right), pick up a very small bit of fabric in the folded edge of the garment fabric. Make sure you are only sewing through one layer, and make your stitch as small as possible as it will be visible from the right side.


Move about 1/2″ to the left (right) and pick up a bit of fabric in the hem.


Continue working this way until the end of them hem.


Fold hem down and press.

For a variation, use the same technique, but sew a catch stitch to create a blind catch stitch. This will be slightly stronger.

Slip stitch

This stitch works great with a double fold hem, as most of the stitching is hidden within the upper fold of the hem allowance. Like the blind stitch, it’s useful when your hem needs to look good from both sides.


Work right to left (left to right) with the needle pointing left (right). With wrong side of garment facing, sew a stitch in the upper fold of the hem 1/4”-1/2” long. Be sure to not pierce all the way through to the right side of the garment. Think of your needle as just skimming through the fabric.

When you bring the needle out of the fold, pick up a very tiny bit of fabric on the garment.


Pull thread through. Enter back into the fold of the hem directly even where the previous stitch ended.


Stitch forward another 1/4”-1/2” and repeat process to complete hem.


Fell stitch

The fell stitch is stronger than a slip stitch, but it is visible from the underside of the work if a thinner single layer of fabric is used. For bulkier fabrics, the thread can be hidden by passing through only a portion of the fabric’s thickness. With linings it can be completely hidden by stitching only through the lining and hem.


Anchor thread. Working from the wrong side and right to left (left to right), pass needle through garment fabric to make a stitch approximately 1/4″-1/2” long. (For a lined garment, stitch only through the lining.) Bring the needle out through the very top edge of the folded hem.


Enter back into the garment directly behind end of previous stitch to make another stitch.


Repeat to end.


On the underside of the work, there will be a line of slightly diagonal stitches.


Hand rolled hem

This is a nice hem for lightweight and sheer fabrics. It does not work well on thicker fabrics or embellished fabrics.


Trim any vertical seams in the hem allowance down to 1/8”. On your machine, baste around the hem at the hemline. Then shorten your stitch length to 1.5 and stitch 1/8″ below the hemline. This will keep the edge of the fabric from fraying.

(Note: For a slightly wider, but easier to roll hem, stitch 1/4″ below the basting line.)


Trim about 6-8” of the excess fabric close to the stitching line. Attach the end of the fabric to something stable to act as a third hand. You can safety pin it to a couch, put a weight onto it, or put it under the presser foot of your machine.

Roll the trimmed edge of the fabric towards the wrong side, stopping at the basting stitches. The other stitching line should be enclosed by the roll of the fabric. (Licking your fingers will really help. It’s ok, no one’s watching.)


Use slip stitches to sew down the roll. Roll and stitch a little bit at a time. When you get close to your trimmed edge, trim a bit more. Trimming as you go prevents stray threads from fraying as you work with the fabric.


Continue to finish the hem.


Remove basting stitches.


For an additional tutorial on sewing a hand rolled hem, you can also check out this Coletterie post.


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