Guide to Hemming Knit Fabric

Guide to Hemming Knit Fabric

Hemming knit fabric can be a challenging task, as this type of fabric is known for its stretchiness. However, with the right techniques and a little patience, you can achieve perfect results and create beautifully finished garments. In this article, we will explore some tips and techniques that will help you hem knit fabric like a pro.

One important tip to keep in mind when hemming knit fabric is to use a stretch needle. These needles have a rounded point which helps prevent skipped stitches and fabric damage. By using a stretch needle, you can ensure that your hem will be secure and durable.

Another technique that can be useful when hemming knit fabric is using a twin needle. A twin needle creates two parallel lines of stitching, mimicking the look of a coverstitch. This not only adds a professional touch to your hem but also helps the fabric maintain its stretch. When using a twin needle, make sure to select the appropriate stitch on your sewing machine and adjust the tension accordingly.

Lastly, it’s important to choose the right hemming method for your knit fabric. While a traditional turned hem may work for some fabrics, others may require a more stretchy hem. One technique to consider is using a narrow zigzag stitch or a stretch stitch. These stitches allow the fabric to stretch while providing a secure finish. Experiment with different hemming methods to find the one that works best for your specific fabric.

Selecting the Right Stitch

When hemming knit fabric, it’s important to choose the right stitch to ensure a secure finish that won’t stretch or pucker. Here are some popular stitch options for hemming knit fabric:

  • Straight Stitch: The straight stitch is a basic stitch commonly used for hemming woven fabrics. However, it is not recommended for knit fabric as the lack of stretch in the stitch can cause the hem to break when the fabric stretches.
  • Zigzag Stitch: The zigzag stitch is a versatile option for hemming knit fabric. It has some stretch, allowing the hem to move with the fabric without breaking. Set your sewing machine to a zigzag stitch with a medium width and length to achieve a secure hem.
  • Twin Needle Stitch: The twin needle stitch creates parallel rows of straight stitches on the right side of the fabric and a zigzag stitch on the wrong side. This stitch adds a decorative touch to the hem while providing stretch and preventing puckering. Be sure to use a ballpoint twin needle specifically designed for knit fabric.

When selecting the right stitch, it’s also important to consider the weight and stretchiness of your knit fabric. Test different stitches on scrap fabric to determine which stitch works best for your specific project.

Stitch Comparison
Stitch Type Stretch Strength Appearance
Straight Stitch Little to no stretch Weaker, prone to breaking Simple and minimal
Zigzag Stitch Moderate stretch Strong and secure Visible zigzag pattern
Twin Needle Stitch Good stretch Strong and secure Parallel rows with zigzag on the back

By selecting the right stitch for hemming knit fabric, you can achieve a professional-looking finish that is both durable and flexible.

Preparing the Fabric

Before you begin hemming your knit fabric, it’s important to properly prepare the fabric to ensure the best results. Follow these steps to get your fabric ready:

  1. Wash and dry the fabric: Start by washing your knit fabric according to the care instructions on the label. This will remove any dirt, oils, or chemicals that may be present on the fabric. After washing, tumble dry the fabric on a gentle or low heat setting or air dry it.
  2. Press the fabric: Once the fabric is dry, press it with an iron to remove any wrinkles. Set the iron to the appropriate heat setting for your fabric, taking care not to use too high of a heat as this can damage or stretch the knit fabric. Use a pressing cloth or press the fabric from the wrong side to avoid leaving shiny marks or imprints.
  3. Trim the edges: After pressing, trim any uneven or frayed edges of the fabric. This will help ensure that your hemline is even and neat.
  4. Mark the hemline: Use a fabric marker or tailor’s chalk to mark the desired hemline on your fabric. You can either measure and mark a specific length from the edge of the fabric or use a ruler or measuring tape to ensure an even hemline.
  5. Secure the fabric: To prevent the knit fabric from stretching out while hemming, you can secure the edges by using small clips, pins, or basting stitches. This will help keep the fabric in place and maintain the desired shape during the hemming process.

Measuring and Marking

Measuring accurately is crucial when hemming knit fabric to achieve a professional and polished result. Here are some tips for measuring and marking your fabric:

  • Use a tape measure: Start by measuring the desired length of your garment. Use a flexible tape measure to get an accurate measurement. It is important to measure from the bottom edge of the fabric to ensure an even hem.
  • Consider the stretch: Keep in mind that knit fabric has stretch, so your garment might appear longer or shorter when worn. Take into account how the fabric will stretch when measuring the length.
  • Pin and try on: Pin the fabric at the desired length and try on the garment to ensure it falls at the right spot. Adjust the pinning if necessary before marking the fabric.
  • Use fabric markers: Once you have determined the correct length, use fabric markers to mark the hemline. Make sure to use a marker that is suitable for your fabric and will wash out easily.
  • Parallel lines: If you prefer a folded hem, mark parallel lines around the fabric at the desired length. These lines will serve as a guideline when folding the fabric.
  • Be consistent: Take your time to measure and mark each section of the fabric accurately. Consistency is key to achieving an even and professional-looking hem.

By following these measuring and marking techniques, you will ensure that your knit fabric hem is neat and precise, adding value and style to your handmade garments.

Using a Double Needle

A double needle is a useful tool for hemming knit fabric because it allows you to create a professional-looking finish with two rows of parallel stitches. Here are the steps to use a double needle for hemming:

  1. Choose the right double needle: Double needles come in different widths, so select one that matches the width you want for your hem. For a narrower hem, use a narrow double needle, and for a wider hem, use a wider double needle.
  2. Prepare your fabric: Fold up the raw edge of your knit fabric to the desired hem width, and press it with an iron. Then, pin the folded edge in place to keep it secure.
  3. Set up your sewing machine: Insert the double needle into your sewing machine, making sure it is securely in place. Thread each needle using a separate spool of thread and pass them through the corresponding needle guides.
  4. Adjust the tension: Check the tension setting on your sewing machine and adjust it if necessary. It’s important to have balanced tension to ensure even stitches on both sides.
  5. Test on scrap fabric: Before hemming your actual garment, test the double needle on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure it is creating the desired stitch and tension.
  6. Sew the hem: Align the folded edge of your fabric under the sewing machine presser foot, positioning it so that the twin needles will stitch along the folded edge. Begin sewing, using a steady and even pace to create two rows of parallel stitches.
  7. Finish the ends: When you reach the end of your hem, continue sewing past the edge of the fabric. This will help secure the stitches and prevent unraveling. Trim any excess thread.
  8. Press the hem: After hemming, press the hem with an iron to help it lay flat and give it a professional finish.

Using a double needle can take your knit fabric hemming to the next level. The twin rows of stitches create a polished look and add extra security to the hem. Practice on scrap fabric before attempting it on your garment to master the technique.

Using a Walking Foot

Using a Walking Foot

When it comes to hemming knit fabric, using a walking foot can make a huge difference in achieving perfect results. A walking foot is a sewing machine foot that has built-in feed dogs to help evenly feed the fabric through the machine.

Here are some tips and techniques for using a walking foot when hemming knit fabric:

  1. Attach the walking foot to your sewing machine: Start by removing the standard presser foot from your sewing machine and attaching the walking foot. Consult your sewing machine’s manual for specific instructions on how to attach the walking foot.
  2. Select the appropriate stitch: Knit fabric requires a stretch stitch or a zigzag stitch to allow the fabric to stretch without breaking the stitches. Choose a stitch that is suitable for stretch fabrics and set the stitch length and width according to your fabric and desired hem width.
  3. Prepare the fabric: Before hemming, it is important to prepare the fabric properly. Make sure the fabric is clean and pressed, and mark the hemline using tailor’s chalk or fabric marker if necessary.
  4. Start sewing from a side seam: It is best to start sewing the hem from a side seam rather than the front or back of the garment. This will help hide any unevenness or inconsistencies in the hem.
  5. Slow and steady: When sewing with a walking foot, it is important to take your time and sew slowly. This will ensure that the fabric is fed evenly through the machine and prevent any stretching or distortion.
  6. Use a gentle touch: While sewing, make sure to guide the fabric gently but firmly. Avoid pulling or tugging on the fabric, as this can lead to stretching or distortion. Let the walking foot do the work of moving the fabric through the machine.
  7. Finish the hem: Once you have sewn the hem, press it gently to set the stitches. You can also trim any excess fabric if necessary. If desired, you can also finish the raw edge of the hem with a serger or a zigzag stitch to prevent fraying.

Using a walking foot can help you achieve professional-looking hems on knit fabric. Follow these tips and techniques for best results and enjoy sewing with knit fabrics!

Sewing the Hem

Once you have measured and marked your hem, it’s time to sew it in place. Follow these steps for a perfect hem on your knit fabric:

  1. Gather your supplies: You will need a sewing machine, matching thread, pins, and a ballpoint or stretch needle.
  2. Prepare your sewing machine: Set your sewing machine to a straight stitch and adjust the stitch length to a medium length. Insert a ballpoint or stretch needle, as these are designed for sewing on knit fabrics.
  3. Pinning: Start by folding the raw edge of your hem up to the marked line and pinning it in place. Use as many pins as necessary to secure the fabric and prevent shifting while sewing.
  4. Sewing the hem: Begin sewing along the folded edge of the hem, removing the pins as you go. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching to secure the thread. Keep a steady pace and guide the fabric with your hands to ensure an even and straight stitch.
  5. Finishing: Once you have sewn all the way around the hem, backstitch again to secure the thread. Trim any excess thread and gently press the hem with an iron to give it a professional finish.

Remember to always test your stitch on a scrap piece of fabric before sewing your hem, as knit fabrics can behave differently than woven fabrics. With the right techniques and a bit of practice, you’ll be hemming knit fabric like a pro in no time!

Pressing and Finishing

Pressing and finishing your hem is an important step in achieving a professional-looking result. Here are some tips and techniques to help you get perfect results:

  1. Use a pressing cloth: When pressing your knit fabric, it’s important to use a pressing cloth to protect the fabric from direct heat. This is especially important if you’re working with delicate or sensitive fabrics.
  2. Set your iron to the correct temperature: Different knit fabrics require different heat settings. Make sure to check the care instructions for your specific fabric and set your iron to the recommended temperature. Too much heat can damage the fabric and ruin your hem.
  3. Press, don’t iron: Instead of ironing back and forth, use an up-and-down motion to press the fabric. This will help to avoid stretching or distorting the fabric.
  4. Work in sections: If you’re hemming a large piece of knit fabric, it can be helpful to work in small sections. This will allow you to focus on pressing one area at a time and ensure that you’re getting an even result.
  5. Use pins or clips to hold the hem in place: Before pressing, you can use pins or fabric clips to hold the hem in place. This will help to keep the fabric in position and prevent it from shifting while you press.
  6. Consider using a steam iron: If your fabric can handle it, using a steam iron can help to relax the fibers and make pressing easier. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using steam.
  7. Finish the edges: Depending on the look you’re going for, you may want to finish the edges of your hem. This can be done with a machine stitch, a serger, or even a hand stitch. Be sure to choose a finishing method that is appropriate for your fabric.

By following these tips and techniques, you can achieve a professional and polished result when hemming your knit fabric. Take your time, be patient, and soon you’ll have perfectly hemmed garments that you’ll be proud to wear.


While hemming knit fabric can be a straightforward process, it’s not uncommon to encounter a few challenges along the way. Here are some troubleshooting tips to help you achieve perfect results:

Problem: Fabric puckers or stretches


  • Make sure you’re using the correct needle for knit fabrics – a ballpoint or stretch needle is recommended.
  • Ensure that your machine’s tension is properly adjusted – a slight stretch test can help you find the right tension setting.
  • If the fabric is still puckering or stretching, try using a stabilizer or fabric spray to help control the stretch.

Problem: Hem looks wavy or uneven


  • Ensure that you’re folding the fabric evenly and in a straight line before hemming.
  • Use pins or clips to hold the hem in place while sewing, making sure that the fabric is smooth and flat.
  • If the hem still looks wavy or uneven, try using a pressing cloth and iron to lightly press the hem and encourage it to lay flat.

Problem: Fabric stretches or shifts while sewing

Problem: Fabric stretches or shifts while sewing


  • Consider using a walking foot or a dual feed foot on your sewing machine to help feed the fabric evenly and prevent stretching or shifting.
  • You can also try using a fabric stabilizer or fabric spray to help control the stretch and keep the fabric in place while sewing.
  • Alternatively, you can hand baste the hem before sewing to keep the fabric in place while stitching.

Problem: Hem is too visible or bulky


  • Try using a lighter-weight thread or a thread that matches the fabric color to make the hem less visible.
  • If the hem is too bulky, you can trim away some of the excess fabric before hemming.
  • Consider using a narrow or rolled hem technique to reduce bulk and create a more delicate finish.

By following these troubleshooting tips, you can overcome common challenges and achieve professional-looking results when hemming knit fabric.


What is knit fabric?

Knit fabric is a type of textile that is made by interlocking loops of yarn or thread. It is known for its stretchiness and flexibility, which makes it a popular choice for clothing.

Why do I need to hem knit fabric?

Hemming knit fabric is important for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to prevent the fabric from unraveling and fraying. It also adds a finished and polished look to the garment. Additionally, hemming can help to control the stretchiness of the fabric and prevent it from stretching out of shape.

What are some tips for hemming knit fabric?

When hemming knit fabric, it is important to use a zigzag stitch or a stretch stitch on your sewing machine, as this will allow the fabric to stretch without breaking the stitches. It is also a good idea to use a stretchy thread, such as wooly nylon or a polyester thread with some stretch. It can be helpful to use a walking foot or a ballpoint needle to prevent the fabric from getting stretched or skipped stitches. Finally, it is important to measure and mark the hem accurately to ensure a clean and even finish.

Can you hem knit fabric by hand?

Yes, you can certainly hem knit fabric by hand. One popular method is to use a blind hem stitch, which involves catching only a few threads of the fabric with each stitch. This creates a nearly invisible hem on the right side of the fabric. Another method is to use a simple running stitch or a whip stitch to secure the hem. Just make sure to use a stretchy thread and be careful not to stretch the fabric too much as you sew.

What is the best way to finish a raw edge on knit fabric?

There are a few different methods for finishing raw edges on knit fabric. One common method is to use an overlock stitch or a serger to sew along the edge of the fabric, which creates a neat and finished seam. Another option is to use a zigzag stitch on a regular sewing machine. You can also use bias tape or a stretchy binding to encase the raw edge and give it a clean finish.

Do I need a special machine or tools to hem knit fabric?

While you don’t necessarily need a special machine or tools to hem knit fabric, there are a few tools that can make the process easier. A walking foot can help to prevent the fabric from stretching and puckering. A ballpoint needle is designed specifically for knit fabrics and can help to prevent skipped stitches. A stretchy thread, such as wooly nylon, can also be helpful. However, if you don’t have these tools, you can still achieve good results with a regular sewing machine and thread.


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