Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

blind stitch hem

michellec | Posted in General Sewing Info on

i have not had success with my blind stitch hem.  Can someone explain how to get nice stitching!



  1. jjgg | | #1

    Do it by hand, you will get a much nicer finish. To me there is nothing that screams "Home Made" more than the blind hem on the home sewing machine. I don't even like the looks of the commercial blind hemmer machines.

    Edited 12/2/2007 2:03 am ET by jjgg

    1. rekha | | #5

      This damned blind hemming is driving me up the wall.

      Bought hemming foot thinking that may help: NO.

       I just cannot get the bite on the right side 'invisible'.

      I have followed what the Serger Secrets recommends, but cunningly, the book doesn't show the right side of the finished hem.

      Please help (yes I am feeling desperate)

      Edited 6/24/2008 11:25 am ET by rekha

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #6

        Ok Rekha, take a deep breath first, then scream. :)  feel better? 

        Now there are a few things about the blind hemmer you need to know-

        1.  It will never ever be as invisible as hand work as it can never bite as finely as the human hand can with a needle and thread.

        2. see number 1 above.

        That being clear now, there are a few things that you might try to make the job easier and more professional looking.

        Use a longer stitch length.  You need the longer threads on the wrong side to tension the stitch on the right side so it can bury itself in the fabric after pressing.

        Don't bunch up the fabric against the foot as you are feeding it through the machine.  It causes the needle to take a bigger bite than you intend.  Let the feed dogs and foot do the work.

        Basting the hem in place sounds redundant, but it frees your hands for smoothly guiding the fabric under the foot without having to stop and start so often.

        Steam the area you have stitched rather than pressing it hard.  It will fluff up the fabric around the stitches and bury them in the fabric better.  Also, gently, really gently giving a bit of a pull along the stitched area of the hem will help bury the stitches in the fabric.

        Always practise on a swatch to get the best you can before doing the hem on your garment.  You would be surprised at how long of a stitch lenghth you may have to set your machine for.  Most commercial garments only hem one layer of fabric, we tend to hem two, and it does take up a lot more of the thread that was designed as give in the stitch. 

        Hope some of this helps.  The other posters have covered stuff that I agree with and would have told you as well.  Cathy

        1. rekha | | #7

          the longer threads on the wrong side to tension the stitch on the right side so it can bury itself in the fabric after pressing.

          You are fun to communicate with.

          I did use the longest stitch to reduce the frequency of stitches on the fabric, but didn't realise a more effective way you mention above.

          I think the book Serger Secrets advises you to iron the folded bit and that is what took up more of the fabric than should have

          Finally, I am a bit confused about your suggestion Steam the area rather than pressing it hard. Either cause the fabric to shrink, including the thread.

          Can you iron over invisible thread?

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #8

            Steam the area rather than pressing it hard. Either cause the fabric to shrink, including the thread.

            Yes, you want the thread and the fabric to shrink into each other.  If you press the fabric, you flatten the thread on top of the fabric.  Steam the fabric with the iron first then press lightly.  I should have been more clear.  Sorry, not enough coffee yet this am.

            Can you iron over invisible thread?  Yes, but be careful as it is nylon usually, and has a lower melting point. Use a silk setting, rather than cotton or wool.   I don't like it, personal preference, I like to use regular thread that is a good match to the fabric or a touch darker.  Darker colours recede into the fabric and are not as noticeable.  This may also be part of what is making your stitches show.  

            I also wouldn't press the fold to hem.  Too much bite, you are correct on that.  That is why I just baste, then fold back along the basting.   Cathy

            Edited 6/16/2008 8:54 am ET by ThreadKoe

        2. denise | | #58

          THANKYOU cathy   hints left for others  often help other people like me thankyou .

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #60

            You are most welcome. I am glad to have been helpful. Cathy

      2. Pattiann42 | | #9

        You know what?  I feel the same way and went back to using the sewing machine.

        I got a DVD with my serger and the demonstrator did quick close up.  She was using knit fabric and same color thread (don't they usually use a contrasting thread when doing a demo) that may be the reason the stitches did not show up on camera.

        I did have better luck basting the hem in place before doing the blind stitch on the serger.  The sewing machine is not as aggressive and pins work for me.

        1. rekha | | #10

          better luck basting the hem ...before the blind stitch on the serger

          So most sewers are advising. Is this machine or hand sewn basting. How close to the fold will that be?

          Edited 6/16/2008 2:07 pm ET by rekha

          1. Pattiann42 | | #11

            Hand or machine - does not matter.  Leave enough so the raw edge will snug up to the knives - 1/2" or so from the fold.   This can vary depending on the thickness of the fabric.

            Test on scraps of the same fabric as you are going to hem.


          2. rekha | | #26

            After finishing one project I thought I would practice with the blind hem.

            Theoretically it sounded good as described by Carol Ahles in Fine Machine Sewing for making an in the air hem.

            But the threads are getting bunched, the pins keep stopping the foot from clearing them.

            So I decided to sew a straight hem 1/16" from the edge so that I could do without pins but the thread is still bunching on the bobbin side.

            I have checked the tensions; they are fine.

            Any ideas?


          3. sewelegant | | #27

            I have been blind hemming this way for several years now, mainly because I did not like the way my Bernina 1630 did the regular blind hem.  Actually I figured this out before buying that book by Carol Ahles so it did my heart good to read it in her book.  She did mention that some machines do not like sewing "on air" and maybe yours is one of them.  I did learn a little something from reading her version of doing this... I will now make sure I leave just enough turned up hem showing so as not to have skipped stitching.

          4. rekha | | #28

            I thought I will use the pink cones I will probably never use again, because the cost of thread is such these days I wanted save my Guttermann threads.

            Deelybob make a big song and dance about using cones on them to use on the sewing machines.

            I think the thread wasn't being released properly with that arrangement.

            When I switched to the proper spools for the machine, it worked like a charm.

            I think blind hemming 'in the air' is an exquisite method.

            This method only worked for me when I first sewed a 1/16" hem instead of using pins (they come in the way).

            I am rather pleased with myself (no, I am not being arrogant - I had wanted to do it for years). Hee hee

          5. moira | | #29

            Rehka, I'm curious to know what an 'in the air' hem is. Can you enlighten me?

          6. rekha | | #30

            In a 'normal' blind hem stitch the edge of the fabric shows stitches because you give 1/8" to 1/4" allowance.

            In in the air you leave no more than 6mm (1/16") for the edge and when you sew the straight stitches don't see the fabric.

            I have scanned the relevant photo from Ahles' book. The edge in question is on the right side (over the pins)

          7. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #31

            Rekha, just to make sure I understand you, the v part of the stitch is on the edge of the fabric, biting into the fold of the face fabric, but the straight stitches are actually off the edge of the hem fabric? So only the V is holding the hem up. Cathy

          8. rekha | | #32

            Quite so.

          9. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #33

            Thank you. Just wanted to make sure I understood completely. Somedays the brain is thicker than others. Cathy

          10. DONNAKAYE | | #34

            Cathy, I've been using this technique for a while and love it.

          11. rekha | | #42

            I have had a little time to take photos of steps involved in making the 'in the air' hem.

            The titles and photos are self-explanatory

            You will notice that you can see the hem on  the right side only on considerable magnification.

            ** Read hem for pintuck



            Edited 7/25/2008 9:14 am ET by rekha

          12. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #44

            Rekha, thank you very much for taking the time to demonstrate and taking those very good pictures to post. I appreciate it very much. Sometimes a picture IS worth a thousand words! Cathy

          13. rekha | | #46

            Thank you all for nudging me when I went berserk not being able to work the technique.

            I though this will register with those who are about to embark on this exquisite technique

          14. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #49

            I really like this way of machine hemming, because it solves the problem I had with the regular way. It left too much fabric above the stitching on the hem on the inside that tended to catch on things and pull. This would be much flatter on the edge, and less likely to catch. Cathy

          15. DONNAKAYE | | #45

            Thanks for the photos.  This is a lovely technique.  I used to use it a lot some years back but for some reason have "strayed."  I'm going to start using it again.  What I really like about it is that it binds the raw edge into the stitches at the same time as the hem is sewn and really saves time.  Thanks for reminding me of this lost treasure....d.

          16. JanF | | #50

            Surely "in the air" is a misnomer?
            As I can see it you are all just talking about blind hemming using the sewing machine attachment - surely no-one thinks anymore than the v should be stitched into the actual face of the fabric? I know sometimes - depending on how rushed you are - it can be easy to miss the edge with the straight stitching on. I usually overlock (sorry serge) most hem edges first - then press seam up and if I am feeling virtuous - I tack up the hem too. Alright I admit I don't do that too often.
            Unless the fabric is stretch(inwhich case I now use a coverstitch for the hem) I find it usually is ok to stitch without pins in too, or I put the pins closer to the fold of the hem so that the prsser foot fully clears them.
            I cannot imagine where the term "in the air" came from.Am i missing something?

          17. moira | | #51

            'surely no-one thinks anymore than the v should be stitched into the actual face of the fabric?'I know that the v-stitch should only pick up a thread of the face fabric, but are you just saying it shouldn't go right through? Or are you saying something else?!It does sound as though this is simply machine blind hemming but right on the edge, rather than maybe half a cm away. Like you, I overlock most of my hem edges before hemming and rarely double-fold, unless it's jeans.

          18. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #53

            I have not sampled this technique for my sample book yet, however, by serging the edge, or coverstitching, I can imagine how light and flexible this hem would be. Cathy

          19. JanF | | #55

            no Moira - I definitely am saying only the v catches the fabric - but I never realised anyone used a blind hemmer with the straight stitch part of the action actually "in the air" - I am going to try it - but I remain to be convinced its a good way of using the blind hemmer - lots of loose thread inside to catch on my heel!!

          20. sewelegant | | #52

            The "in the air" refers to the straight stitching being done off the fabric.  The V comes over and catches both the turned up hem and the body of the garment.  It might look like the stitching is going along as usual in the pictures but in reality that straight stitching should not be on the turned up hem at all.  Try it to see how it works.

          21. JanF | | #54

            Crikey - can't imagine this being stable enough - but after saying this - Ive never tried this - so I will have a go!

          22. moira | | #47

            Thank you for taking the time to do this - it looks to me as if it's the same idea as machine blind hemming except that the straight stitches are only just barely on the fabric edge. Have I got that right? I will certainly give it a go and let you know how successful it is.

          23. rekha | | #48

            Yes, you are correct.

            Basically you are using the identical stitch width and length but changing the distance from the edge.

            My best wishes.


      3. Tatsy | | #12

        Try adjusting the needle position and/or the stitch width. I also like to lengthen the stitch from what the manufacturer recommends. Blind stitching works great on thick fabrics, not so well on thin ones.

      4. Betakin | | #13

        Sergers and their blind hem feet vary and so do their results. On my coverlock I do get a completely invisible hem using a 3 thread overlock. The blind hem foot is also very different on this serger.

        If you cannot get a good blind hem on your serger you might want to choose a 2 thread flatlock for a decorative hem.

      5. Teaf5 | | #14

        A lot of good advice so far; here's something that helped me tremendously:  loosen the thread tension as much as you can, especially on the side that bites.  

        Hemming is one of the few times you don't want the thread to be snug; the looser tension allows for the bite stitch to lie flat and the two layers of fabric to lie smoothly against each other. 

        If you take a magnifying glass to the sample, you'll see that the fabric takes up quite a bit of thread as you flatten out the reverse fold you made for the hemmer.  Some of this extra thread can come from the looser tension on the between-bite stitches; any tightness anywhere will make for a lumpy, bumpy hem.  It's not a bad idea to do sections of hemming, allowing long thread tails between so that you have even more give to work with.

        After blind stitching, grasp the garment on either side of the stitching line and tug; do this about every five inches around the hem.  Pulling vertically lets the bite stitch ease through the fabric and allows the preliminary fold to flatten out.

        1. rekha | | #19

          ... the fabric takes up quite a bit of thread as you flatten out ...fold ... for the hemmer

          This makes perfect sense and I now understand why Betakin is suggesting loosening the foot pressure

          Thank you.

        2. denise | | #59

          i am so afraid of the tension button  altering it i mean.

          never know which way to go.,  I think it goes back 40 years when machines where so hard to tinker with

          advice advice please

      6. Betakin | | #15

        Maybe try lessening the foot pressure would help.

        1. rekha | | #16

          How does it help? Have you tried it?

          1. Betakin | | #17

            Yes, depending on the fabric, I have lessened the foot pressure and the foot on my serger is adjustable too and I can get an invisible blind hem.

            On one of the sergers that I had long ago, it used a different type of foot and the blind hems never turned out as nice as the one I use now.

            It is the same with my different sewing machines. Some do a nicer blind hem than others. Some will set up right away and do a perfect blind hem where with others it takes a bit of playing around to get the proper stitch width so that the needle does not cross over to far into the left side of the fabric to then have the stitch end up showing on the right side of the fabric. The needle only needs to take a very  tiny bite of the fabric fold.

          2. rekha | | #18

            Thank you. I shall note this down and try it.

    2. denise | | #56

      I know exactly what you mean,  when you have a machine that does these things we would like to put it to its full use   I have arthritis in my hands so any time I can use the machine I do.

      But through courses I have done on the net with a widely known site

      I  now line everything,  I bag line my skirts  and attach the lining here and there up the side seams so it does not move. And that means my hem is concealed inside the lining.  Of course if i ever wanted to alter the hem i would have to take down the lining so i have decided i shall place my lining at the top of my skirt  and not include it in the elastic casing so i can do just that.

       and stitch and flip my jackets look so wonderful

      I was always worried my sewing had that home made look but if I line my skirts etc I don't feel that way  and I have even started lining with fabric that is not lining so you have a nice design in side.

  2. Pattiann42 | | #2

    If you want to do it by machine you will have to baste the hem in place, then fold the hem back.  Adjust the guide on the blind hem foot and/or move the needle position so you have the amount of "bite" you want. 

    The distance between bites can be adjusted with the stitch length setting, the depth by the stitch width (needle position).

    For hand stitching, there is a method of using lightweight iron-on stabilizer (on the garment & not the hem) and then stitching the hem to the stabilizer so the stitching does not show on the right side of the garment. 




    Edited 12/2/2007 2:29 pm ET by spicegirl1

    Edited 12/3/2007 10:47 am ET by spicegirl1

  3. moira | | #3

    My new Bernina stitches a blind hem more accurately and successfully than my old one did, so I have been using this method again. Something I've tried is using invisible thread on the top, and normal thread in the bobbin, and this has worked well, minimising the amount of right-side fabric caught up in the zig-zag part of the stitch.

  4. suesew | | #4

    I finish the raw edge (pinking shears or serging) fold up the hem and pin with the pins perpendicular to the hem, with the point aiming at the bottom of the hem. When you fold the hem back to stitch you should be able to see the tops of the pins and you will be able to pull them out as you sew. Set the machine for a very narrow bite and not too short a stitch. It's that big bite that shows on the front. But too narrow a bite may pucker that fabric so you have to experiment with this a little to get it just right. Also be sure you are sewing as close to the fold as possible. I am assuming you have a blind hem foot. This will give you an edge to follow the fold and will not flatten the fold on the left too much. A regular foot will really press that crease in and will not give you a consistently accurate close to the fold stitch. If your stitch looks puckered you may need to release the tension a little or lengthen the stitch some more.

  5. DONNAKAYE | | #20

    After nearly fifty years in the sewing room, and even having had a sewing professional for a mom, I stumbled onto something about blind machine hems that I have gotten much better results with.

    I never steam the hem anymore.  Rather, I use a see-thru presscloth with a dry iron.  Sounds too simple to be true, huh?  Try it on a scrap and let me know what you think.

    1. rekha | | #21

      I have two questions

      1. Why should dry iron have advantage over steam?

      2. How does a see-through cloth help in 'blinding' the seam?

      1. DONNAKAYE | | #22

        Two very good questions.  As to the first question, I can only say that the steam "draws up" the hem thread.  Keeping in mind that thread shrinks just as fabric does when moistened, I suppose it keeps the thread from shrinking and pulling the fabric in toward the little nick of thread.  As for the see-thru presscloth, any presscloth will do -- cotton (diaper) or wool-treated.  I just make it a habit to always use a presscloth when pressing my garments.  Mom raised me that way.  A wool-treated presscloth is actually best done for the final pressing, as the wool "treatment" does transfer into the pressed fabric, making it lie perfectly flat with less buckling or bubbling....d.

        Edited 6/24/2008 12:04 pm ET by DonnaKaye

        1. rekha | | #23

          What is a wool-treated presscloth?

          1. DONNAKAYE | | #24

            I should have anticipated that question.  All I know is that my mom used to manufacture and sell them.  Back in the '60s she used to get them from Edna Bryte Bishop, and then Dritz carried them for a long time.  I used to see them for sale in the fabric stores.  I never really asked mom the question, but evidently they use something in the treatment of the wool presscloth that causes to garment that's being pressed to take on the characteristics of the wool.  I know that sounds really strange, but that's how mom and Edna B. explained it to me.  I still have a bunch of them from when mom had the Sewing Organizer.  I'll ask around to some of the old Bishop teachers and see if I can get more information.

  6. DONNAKAYE | | #35

    Mrs. Bishop taught a machine blind hem that you manually manipulate.  Has anyone tried this technique?  Mother taught it to me when I was about five years-old; it's probably one of the very first things I learned how to sew.  I absolutely love it.  The results of each "pick" of the stitch are perfect and absolutely controllable and predictable by the seamstress (or seamster!).

    1. rekha | | #36

      I was hoping you would describe that technique

      1. DONNAKAYE | | #37

        First and foremost, never, ever, ever hem without staystitching directionally first (there are numerous discussions on this forum regarding directional staystitching).

        Prepare fabric as normal for blind stitch (you can refer to just about any sewing book for an illustration if you need to see how to fold your fabric and lay it on the bed of the machine).  Set your machine for a straight stitch (I generally lengthen the stitch a bit) and loosen the tension.  Test on a swatch to see which tension setting works best for your particular fabric before stitching the hem of the final garment.  The results are well worth this little bit of effort.

        Take a few stitches on the hemline (the single layer).  Stop.  Using your left hand, manually move the fold of the fashion fabric over to the needle (this should be very easy to do, as we're only talking about moving it over the width of a couple of threads at most) and catch ONE TINY THREAD.  Then manually move the fabric back to the position where you can take eight or ten stitches (you may count them out, if you're anal retentive like me) on the single layer of fabric.  Proceed likewise for the rest of the hem.

        PLEASE NOTE that in this technique you do NOT raise the presser foot when you move the fabric over to the needle.  You MAY need to lower the downward pressure of the presser foot in order to allow the fabric under the presser foot to move easily, but I generally use the normal setting unless I'm using very light, heavy, or novelty fabrics.

        If I can possibly help it, I do not use a steam setting directly on the pick stitches when setting a hem.  For what it's worth, practical experience has taught me that the thread shrinks just enough from the steam -- especially cotton, cotton blend, and silk thread -- to pull the fabric into the pick stitches, leaving a tiny pucker in your fabric.  (This was the complaint of one Gatherings member of late.)  Matter of fact, I use one of those old-fashioned heavy tailoring irons with no steam.

        To prevent the hemline from imprinting onto the top fabric at the pick-stitch line, I use a pants board (similar to a sleeve board only wider and much longer) with a terrycloth towel or some suitable substitute (cashmere works nicely too) underneath the hem, then the pants right side up, then the silk, cotton or wool presscloth, then the iron.  Very lightweight fabrics such as silk, voile, organza and the like can be pressed at the pick-stitch line with a see-thru silk organza presscloth, which I use for ALL top pressing unless the fabric requires more protection, in which case I use a 100 percent cotton baby diaper, either dry or wet, and/or a wool-treated presscloth.

        Hard-to-crease synthetic fabrics, such as polyesters and the like, require heat and moisture at the fold line of the hem to set a good crease.  For this process I generally use three presscloths unless my fabric dictates otherwise.  First I give it a light pressing with a see-thru presscloth.  For the next pressing I dampen a baby diaper (with a spray bottle filled with spring water) after it's been laid on top of the fashion fabric and steam out all the moisture in the presscloth.  For the final pressing, I use a wool-treated presscloth.  (For information about the wool-treated presscloth, you can do a search for a discussion some time back about it.)

        Note that when pressing any hem, it is wise to only LIGHTLY press at the top of the hem, using just enough pressure to smooth the garment fabric and cause the pick stitches to sink into the fashion fabric.  Applying any substantial weight at the particular location will almost surely bring the impression of the hemline up to the top fabric.  To set the hemline crease, I only press at the fold line at the bottom of the garment.  Note that in order to follow this sequence, you must press the top of the hem differently from the bottom, or fold line, of the hem.

        Hope this helps.

        1. rekha | | #38

          Gosh, that is a very laborious method.

          You are better off doing it by hand if this was the alternative

          1. DONNAKAYE | | #39

            I'm sorry, but I have to take issue with the "laborious" part.  Not at all.  The hems work up really quickly once you get proficient at it.  I strongly disagree.  Why not try it?  What have you got to lose?

            A hand sewn hem is not always feasible, especially in heavier fabrics or at locations that take a lot of wear and tear.  I always prefer a machine sewn hem in my pants because I often catch my heels in the hemlines  When machine sewn, it will only pop out a couple of stitches, and the repair is quite simple.  With a hand sewn hem, I've got to redo the entire hem.  Likewise for skirts, because I travel a lot in my career and am in and out of a car constantly and the hemlines go through a lot of strain.  Also coats, for the same reason.  So if I've got to do a machine hem, this method is the best, IMHO.

            If "laborious" was the criteria for any custom-made garment in which I'm going to invest my time and money, I don't suppose I'd ever stitch a thing, quite frankly.  But sewing is a "labor" of love.

            Edited 7/24/2008 3:36 pm ET by DonnaKaye

          2. rekha | | #40

            Perhaps I used the wrong word; it should have been exceedingly time consuming.

            Why not try it? 

            Oh, yes I will try anything the first time 

            I've got to redo the entire hem

            I believe it should be possible to repair parts whether hand or machine method, and have done so quite frequently.


          3. DONNAKAYE | | #41

            You're right on about repairing a hand sewn hem.  My problem is that I'm a perfectionist.  It's somewhat of a dilemma to be a perfectionist and a seamstress!  Ha ha!

        2. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #43

          Thanks for posting this Donna. Will add to the back of my book. Cathy

  7. denise | | #57

    Dear Michellec i just posed a message for you but i think i replied to the message below  re bag lining.

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All