The Closing Act: Hemming (Or Not Hemming) Knits

Click to visit the Tiramisu pre-sale! $11 pre-sale, $17 retail. Ends October 5th

For the last night of The Circus, I brought in some clowns to show you my favorite methods of hemming on knits:

No Hem- easy option for lightweight knits, works well on most weights if you like raw edge.

Mock Coverhem and Mock Mock Coverhem- Mock Coverhem uses a twin needle and is flexible, Mock Mock Coverhem involves one needle and two careful lines of stitching.  It does not stretch much.  Both methods use fusible webbing for stability and control.

Blind Hem- It works on most medium to heavy knits.

Most of these techniques will work quite well on wovens.

I had an ulterior motive behind The Circus, to test some of the ideas I’m working on for the Cake site.  The new site won’t be like a blog exactly, but a complement to the patterns.   I do hope you’ll like it, and when you visit you’ll see pieces of The Circus scattered about. It’s not video-heavy, I’ve been playing with videos this week to see if I like making them, and if you like seeing them.  Let me know.

This is more of a short chat about raw knit hems and why it’s ok to do them.  I also demonstrated a raw edge “stitch” which is simply a line of long-ish stitches  to prevent the edge stretching profusely or “running.”  While knits don’t fray, sometimes a cut edge will run like a crazed lion after his tamer.

Here I’m showing how to apply fusible webbing to the knit edge to secure the hem.  If you wish, you can finish the raw edge before applying the webbing and stitching.

Fusible webbing comes in handy all over my sewing room.  I use it to position the zipper in a fly like Debbie Cook; I also use it to position patch pockets.  This is particularly useful on thick or bulky fabrics.

I can hem a circle skirt pretty painlessly using fusible webbing and then stitching as usual.  I would recommend finishing the raw edge before applying webbing for this application.

As I sat stitching, the two mock coverhems I sewed with the twin needles looked very different.  In the video, I can see they’re both ridged.  There’s two fixes to this- I could continue adjusting the tension a little at a time until I found the “sweet spot” on my sample sewing.  Or I could just press it and hope for the best.  It’s up to you.

The blind hem can be used on stable medium to heavy weight knits.  I remember learning to blind hem on the sewing machine was a BIG revelation in my sewing, and it works pretty well for some knits.  It’s always prudent to stitch a sample before hemming the garment, just to see how it works with the fabric/thread/stitch combination.

Peek at the Tiramisu Pattern Instructions:

This is the Construction Overview that takes up a large portion of the front of the instruction sheet:

The seams are all numbered, the numbers correspond to steps on the back page of the sheet.  I hope this will help “visualize” the sewing process.  (“I sew the what to the where?”)   I’ll be sending the instruction sheet around the Cake email newsletter next week sometime for you to have a look, so do sign up if you haven’t already.

Doing a happy Tanit-Isis dance to make her laugh!

Thank you, thank you so much for coming to The Circus!  And from the bottom of my heart, thank you for supporting the Tiramisu pre-sale.  Cake Patterns wouldn’t happen without your encouragement as I continue work through the pattern production process (we’re so close to the finish line!), and it wouldn’t be happening so soon without your support of the pre-sale.

I know I live in the future for many of you, so I won’t close the pre-sale until midnight Friday in Humptulips, USA to avoid any crossed wires.  Visit Etsy to take advantage of the pre-sale before midnight Friday.

Thank you for a great Circus, and here’s to more in the future.  Also, check out the drape on that skirt.

A quiet clown

I need a few days unplugged. Just a few, I have a scheduled post for the weekend and when I come “back,” I’ll revert back to 3-4 posts a week.  The post on sourcing Eco Fabrics and Knit Drapes didn’t make it into this Circus, I opted to address other issues of threads and feet and machines that came up.  I’ll publish those fabric posts, and the series on overlockers/sergers as well as family sewing, quilting and my usual etc.  So many posts, so little time!

While I’m unplugged, I’ll still be answering alterations emails.  I just need a few days to mostly step away from the computer.


  1. Really good tutorials. I’m curious to know about how it goes using the fusible webbing on a very long seam (like the totality of this hem. How do you fold up the hem in stages without going off the rails? Is it difficult?

    • I’m not sure what you mean..? It’s a straight piece that goes onto a curve, but it doesn’t matter much. I can tape the hem in sections for easier handling… :) So… Pull out a length of tape, stick it, pull off the paper, then another.

  2. I just found a link to your blog. I would love to know how to sew clothes and do so, just a little on my domestic sewing machine. I’ve heard of sergers. Is it the same as an overlocker. Do you need both. Which one do you need for good garment construction.

    • They are the same- overlockers and sergers are the same. :) It’s a colloquial language difference. I say sergers, the Australians say overlocker, I’m living in their country, so I say both. Or just overlocker.

  3. Did you talk about using little scraps of computer paper under the hem while fake cover stitching? I tried it out on another t-shirt refashion and it got rid of the ridge.
    The paper can be carefully picked out of the hem or (lazy way) I’m leaving all of the little bits to melt in the washing machine.

    I wish you could see it better in this post, but the little guy was moving too much for me to get good construction shots (and afterwards, the shirt was dirty from playing outside — note to self: construction shots first, then put the shirt on the kid)

    • There’s always more to learn! Thanks for the tip. :)

      Honestly… Really… I hem shirts, I don’t hem much else… Sometimes I don’t even hem the shirts. I know it’s sort of setting my standards “as low as” ready to wear, but BUT it works fine. And if the edge bothers me, I can always hem it. I do if it bugs me. The only time it really does is the bottom edge of a shirt…

      That said, I’m sure I’ll be more excited about hemming everything post-coverhem purchase. I just can’t have one yet. ;)

    • Thanks! It’s fun, if completely unnecessary.. :) I used to do theatre and etc, I think it probably never completely leaves you.

    • Thank you so much Lin! I think we may go to the country for a few days, the city has suddenly become stinking hot and anyway I can’t seem to unplug… ;) Which is all fine. I can get some charming floral shots for the banner… ;)

  4. Close-up photo quality not good enough for seeing what you are doing. Full photos of the dress are good, though.

    • Yes, I was afraid of that. Will need to update/take some stills. We’re still getting the hang of making videos, and the limitations of our equipment. :) I’m shopping around for better equipment and we’re learning, so I hope the quality of the videos will improve (dramatically, let’s hope!). There’s other hemming technique videos out there, but in classes I often find that explaining a process and encouraging someone to try something a bit new is as helpful for certain types of sewists as a straight-up technical explanation. :) Ideally, the vids we make will be like sitting down and checking out a new technique with a knowledgeable friend. Ideally. ;)

  5. The clowns are hilarious! I actually have a bit of an aversion towards clowns, stemming from watching Stephen King’s It at an early age.He haunted me when I was trying to fall asleep at night. Him and the guy from I Know What You Did Last Summer… Bad childhood memories….

    Anyway, I think the videos are great! It’s one thing to read instructions and try something, but when you have someone showing you, it takes out a lot of possible mistakes. It’s all in the different learning styles, I guess.

    • oh no! How awful. I was pretty sheltered as a kid, never saw those..

      Yes, you’re so right. Besides, sometimes it’s just plain old helpful to see what someone does with their hands… :)

  6. Oh, I did a mock coverstitch on the hem of the merino dress (my next blog post) and it worked a treat. The tunnel/ridge effect with the twin needle only seems to happpen if one needle is off the double layer and one on, so we lined it up to slightly overlap at the back. It won’t do anything. And we just cut 1/2 inch wide strips of steamseam off the roll to stick it down first. I cannot WIT to show you, you were the toehr tutor in the room this week! (Mymy, you DID get a lot done during teh circus! hehehe) Mx

    • Now I’m teaching by astral projection? ;) I kid, I kid…

      Yeah, look, I’m a pragmatist at the end of the day and would probably have fiddled with the settings for a while and then pressed it. If I were working on a garment. Also- wider twin needles usually “ridge” more easily, and narrower ones less so..

      :) Yeah- send me photos of this famous dress! Can’t wait to see. :)

  7. Great post. 3rd clown image…slightly unnerving. Sometimes clowns freak me out.
    I have a questions for you regarding knits. What do you do when you sew in a neckline (serge, turn over and stitch down) and gaps or curls out. How do you fix it and how do you prevent it? This probably hands mostly on lightweight knits. Tx

    • I did wonder about clown phobias! ;)

      I don’t use that method for necklines. I can go play around and come back with my findings, but I don’t finish necklines that way as a rule. :)

      • I forgot to cut out the neckband and decided to be lazy. Maybe, I’ll try to steam shrink it, add nylon tricot and fold it over on more time.

        • Ah! I see. The tricot might work, maybe fold-over elastic? I know some use that to finish knit edges, I don’t mind the look of it myself. :) Looks like I need to go school myself on knit neckline techniques and see what comes up…

  8. Videos – I rarely, if ever, watch them. I tend to be watching TV at the same time as reading online so videos almost never get a click.

    Twin needle hemming – my open-toe walking foot is one of the best things I have ever bought for my sewing machine. I was considering buying a coverstitch, but a £30 foot (and the fact I don’t quite sew enough jerseys/knits to justify a coverstitch) made up my mind. If your machine has an open-toe walking foot available then it’s definitely worth buying IMHO. I wrote a post showing how I use my walking foot.

    Unfinished hems – shudder!!! I don’t care if it’s a jersey or knit that doesn’t fray – an unfinished hem is just icky to me. I’m actually jealous of people who can sew a jersey garment and then not hem it – I wish I could do the same.

    • Yeah that makes sense. It seems to me like the people who like videos really really like them, and everyone else doesn’t care much. Which is fine. :)

      Thanks for the detailed review! I’m sure it will help someone out there reading, so thanks for adding it! The more perspectives the better.

      I think I used to feel that way about them, but then I spent some time studying RTW. Sneaky shopping, etc. I realized that sometimes a finished hem on a knit garment impedes the flow of the fabric, which is (to me) more displeasing to the eye than a raw edge. Fwiw! Everyone is different. :)

  9. I personally love videos. I can read and re-read things and I have no clue what to do. But seeing you do a blind hem…awesome!

  10. This may be a silly question, but could you explain what fusible webbing is? It’s not the same as a tricot interfacing, is it? Is fusible webbing what Steam a Seam is, which I’ve never used but have heard of? It’s not the same as stay tape, is it? I get overwhelmed with all the sewing notions out there and how to use them, so as a consequence I kind of don’t use any of them!

    Also…I have been having trouble getting my twin needles threaded right, I think I managed it correctly once and never again, so perhaps at some point do you have any tips you could share on that? My thread immediately gets tangled after only a couple of stitches, so I’ve had to scrap my twin needle hemming until I get it sorted out.

  11. Yes, fusible webbing and steam a seam are the same thing. It’s really really handy in the sewing room, you’ll love it. I think it’s found under a variety of brands, I use this one. Hope that clears it up!

    As for the twin needle issue, it varies machine to machine. :/ I wish I could take a look. Is it a more modern machine or a vintage one? I might have some ideas, or someone here might. :)

    • Thanks for answering! I’m late replying back, apologies, but my machine is a Janome 500.

      Hope you had a swell weekend!

  12. Hand sewn hems can also be a good option for knits, especially when it needs to be really invisible. I probably wouldn’t do a hand hem on a t-shirt, but it’s a good option for full knit skirts.

    • I confess I’ve never tried it, but I know there’s a popular book (books?) out about hand-sewing knits. If only there were more hours in the day! :)

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