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Single Fold Hem

How to sew a single fold hem

A single fold hem is a useful sewing technique to learn.  Follow the instructions below to master it for yourself. 

How to machine sew a single fold hem

Zig zag stitch or overlock stitch along the bottom of your fabric. We’ve used an overlock stitch for this example.  You need to stitch right along the very edge of your fabric to stop it fraying.

Measure for a hem

Turn up your hem and press – this example shows  a 1 inch hem.  Pressing will make the fabric sit in place for when you stitch it, making your hem more accurate.

Pin a hem in place

Pin in place before stitching down. You can then either do a hand stitch (almost invisible) or a machine stitch (slightly visible but faster) finish.  

Hand Stitching a single fold hem

Hand stitch a hem

Work from the back of the fabric. To start, put your knot between the hem and the fabric then pull your needle out towards you.  Insert the needle at right angles to the hem, picking up a few threads at the front of the fabric, just under the hemstitching and bring the needle out towards you through the overlock/zigzag stitch that you just did.

Tiny stitches for a blind hem

As you can see from the photo there are only a few very small stitches showing on the right side of the fabric.  If your thread was the same colour as the fabric they would be barely visible.  We used a contrasting thread so you can easily see the stitches – the blue thread is the hand stitching. When you do it you would use a matching thread so that it blends in and isn’t visible. 

To finish off at the end take a couple of stitches through just the hem allowance to secure your thread. The trick is to get regular stitches so it looks neat from the front.  Practice will help.

Machine stitching a single fold hem

Stitching a single fold hem
How to hem a garment

Sew a straight stitch through the middle of the overlocking/zig zag stitch or just below.  You don’t want to get too close to the edge as it’s still quite a fragile edge.  Machine stitching is faster and ideal if you don’t mind slightly visible stitches on the right side.  Again if you match the thread as closely as possible to the fabric it will not be too visible. However if you want a completely invisible finish hand stitching is the best option.


This hem is more useful for thicker/heavier fabrics where you don’t want a double layer like you would get with a double turn hem,  for example sweatshirt material, coats, wool trousers, formal trousers etc.