Sew a Baby Hem
A baby hem, sewn by machine, is extremely narrow. It is ideal for lightweight fabrics. If your project calls for a nearly imperceptible edge treatment, this is the technique to use.
First stitching line
You’ll start with a 5/8-inch-wide hem allowance. Choose a small needle, size 70/10, with a universal or microtex/sharp point. For thread, you can choose among all-purpose, embroidery (rayon or polyester), or fine silk types.
Set the machine for a short stitch: 1.5 mm to 2.0 mm. Stitch 1/2 inch from the cut edge. Press the allowance to the fabric’s wrong side, favoring the stitching line to the wrong side.
Second stitching line
Stitch along the edge again, as close to the fold as possible. This places two lines of stitching close together. Next, trim the excess seam allowance along the stitching. Don’t cut through the garment fabric or the stitching.
Final stitching line
Fold the hem up again to enclose the trimmed edge, and press. Make the final pass of stitching along this narrow edge. The finished hem has two visible lines of stitching on the wrong side, and one on the right side.
The baby hem is supple but has enough weight to hang nicely in delicate and lightweight fabrics.
There are many methods for sewing narrow hems, whether on traditional men’s shirts or couture garments. Some are serged and stitched, others are entirely hand-sewn. Threads Insider members can find a variety of techniques to choose from in the videos and articles below, by our contributing editors and digital ambassadors:
“Creating a Beautiful Shirt Hem,” by Peter Lappin
“Clean-Finish a Curved Shirttail Hem,” by Louise Cutting
“Rolled Hem with a Sewing Machine and Serger,” with Kenneth D. King
“A Couture Hand-Rolled Hem,” with Susan Khalje
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