Step-by-Step Guide: How to Hem a Knit Sweater

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Hem a Knit Sweater

Knit sweaters are a staple in many people’s wardrobes, providing warmth, comfort, and style. However, over time, these sweaters may begin to lose their shape or become too long. Hemming a knit sweater is a simple and effective way to restore its original length and ensure a perfect fit. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of hemming a knit sweater, allowing you to customize its length to your desired preference.

Before you begin hemming, gather the necessary materials: a sewing machine with a ballpoint needle, matching thread, fabric scissors, pins, and a measuring tape. It’s important to use a ballpoint needle when sewing knit fabric to prevent damage to the delicate fibers.

The first step is to try on the sweater and determine how much length needs to be removed. Pinch the excess fabric at the bottom of the sweater, all the way around, and mark it with pins. Use a measuring tape to ensure an even measurement. Keep in mind that knit fabric has some stretch, so it’s best to remove a little less length than you think you need to account for this stretch when the sweater is worn.

Once you have marked the desired length, turn the sweater inside out and fold the excess fabric up to the marked line. Pin the folded fabric in place, making sure to distribute the pins evenly to secure the hem. Take care to align any pattern or color stripes as you pin to maintain the sweater’s original design.

With the sweater still inside out, use a sewing machine to stitch along the folded edge. Start at one side seam and sew all the way around, removing the pins as you go. Make sure to use a stretch stitch or a narrow zigzag stitch to allow the seam to stretch with the fabric. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam to secure it.

After you have finished sewing, trim any excess fabric close to the seam, being careful not to cut into the stitching. This step helps reduce bulk and ensures a smooth hem. Lastly, turn the sweater right side out and try it on to ensure the hem falls at the desired length. If any adjustments are needed, simply seam rip the stitches and make the necessary changes.

By following these step-by-step instructions, you can easily hem a knit sweater and breathe new life into your favorite wardrobe piece. Hemming not only allows you to customize the length to your liking, but it also helps maintain the sweater’s shape and fit for years to come.

Choosing the Right Tools

Before you start hemming your knit sweater, it’s important to make sure you have the right tools on hand. Here are some essential tools you’ll need:

  • Sewing machine: A sewing machine will make the hemming process much easier and faster. Make sure your machine is in good working condition and has a stretch stitch setting.
  • Thread: Choose a thread color that matches your sweater. Using a polyester thread with some stretch is ideal for sewing knits.
  • Ballpoint or stretch needle: These needles are specifically designed for sewing knits. They have a rounded tip that helps prevent snagging and breaking the fabric.
  • Pins or clips: Use pins or clips to hold your hem in place before sewing. T-pins or ballpoint pins work well with knits.
  • Fabric scissors: A sharp pair of fabric scissors will make cutting your hem clean and precise. Make sure they’re sharp enough to cut through knitted fabric without snagging.
  • Measuring tape: Measure the length of the sweater to determine how much you need to hem. This will help you achieve an even and balanced hem.
  • Iron: An iron is crucial for pressing your hem and ensuring a professional-looking finish. Make sure your iron is set to the correct temperature for your sweater’s fabric.

Having these tools ready before you begin will help you achieve the best possible hem for your knit sweater. Make sure everything is in good condition and within reach to make the process as smooth as possible.

Preparing the Sweater

Preparing the Sweater

Before hemming a knit sweater, there are a few important steps to take to ensure the best results. Preparing the sweater properly will help you achieve a clean and professional finish.

  1. Wash and dry the sweater: It is essential to wash and dry the sweater before hemming to remove any dirt or stains and to ensure that the fabric has shrunk as much as it will. This will prevent any unexpected changes in the fit of the sweater after hemming.
  2. Measure and mark: Use a measuring tape to determine the desired length of the sweater. Mark this length with fabric chalk or pins. Make sure to measure from the bottom edge of the sweater and keep in mind any ribbing or details that you want to maintain.
  3. Cut off excess fabric: Once the sweater is marked at the desired length, carefully cut off the excess fabric. It’s recommended to leave some extra fabric (about half an inch) for seam allowance.
  4. Prepare the hem: Fold the raw edge of the fabric up towards the wrong side of the sweater to create the hem. To ensure a neat finish, it’s best to fold it up twice – once to enclose the raw edge and again to create a clean hemline.
  5. Pin the hem in place: Use straight pins to secure the folded fabric in place. Make sure the fabric is evenly folded and pinned around the entire bottom edge of the sweater.
  6. Press the hem: Gently press the pinned hem with a warm iron, taking care not to stretch or distort the fabric. This will help set the fold and make it easier to sew.
  7. Baste the hem: Use a needle and thread to baste the hem in place. This temporary stitching will hold the fold in place and make it easier to sew the final hem. Make sure to use a thread color that matches the sweater for a seamless finish.

By properly preparing the sweater before hemming, you will be one step closer to achieving a professional-looking result. Once the sweater is prepared, you can move on to sewing the hem and completing the process.

Measuring and Marking

Before you begin hemming your knit sweater, it’s important to measure and mark the desired length. This will help ensure that your hem is even and the sweater fits properly.

Step 1: Try on the sweater

Put on the sweater to determine the desired length. Stand in front of a mirror and assess how long you want the hem to be. Keep in mind that the hem will add a little bit of length, so take that into account when deciding.

Step 2: Measure the length

Use a tape measure to measure the distance from the bottom of the sweater to the desired hem length. Make sure the tape measure is straight and flat against the sweater to get an accurate measurement.

Step 3: Mark the hem length

With a fabric marker or chalk, make a small mark at the desired hem length on both sides of the sweater. This will serve as your reference point when sewing the hem.

Step 4: Check the markings

Double-check that the marks are even and at the same height from the bottom of the sweater on both sides. This will ensure that the hem is straight and even.

Step 5: Adjust if necessary

If the markings are not even or do not line up, make any necessary adjustments. Use the tape measure to re-measure and re-mark the desired hem length.

By carefully measuring and marking your knit sweater, you will be ready to move on to the next step of hemming. This will help ensure that your finished product looks professional and fits just right!

Cutting the Excess Fabric

Once you have measured and pinned the desired length for your knit sweater, it is time to cut the excess fabric. Follow these steps to cut the fabric properly:

  1. Gather your materials: Make sure you have a sharp pair of fabric scissors and a ruler or measuring tape.
  2. Double-check the measurements: Before cutting any fabric, double-check your measurements to ensure that you have the correct length.
  3. Pinning the fabric: If you haven’t already, pin the fabric along the marked hemline to secure it in place. This will help prevent the knit sweater from stretching or shifting while you cut.
  4. Trimming: Using the fabric scissors, carefully trim the excess fabric along the pinned hemline. Be sure to cut straight and avoid cutting any areas you want to keep.
  5. Finishing touch: After cutting, remove the pins and gently shake out the sweater to check if the hemline is even. If needed, make any final adjustments before proceeding with the next steps.

Remember to take your time and be cautious while cutting to avoid any mistakes. Once you have completed this step, you are ready to move on to the next stage of hemming your knit sweater.

Pinning the Hem

Once you have determined the length at which you want to hem your knit sweater, it’s time to start pinning the hem in place. Pinning is important to ensure that the hem is straight and even throughout the entire garment. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of pinning the hem of your knit sweater.

  1. Start by laying your knit sweater on a flat surface, such as a table or ironing board.
  2. Fold the bottom edge of the sweater up to the desired length, making sure to fold it evenly all the way around. Use a ruler or measuring tape to ensure that the hem is the same length all the way around.
  3. Once you have folded the hem to the desired length, use sewing pins to hold the fold in place. Start by pinning the corners of the sweater, and then add pins along the folded edge every few inches. This will help to keep the hem in place while you sew.
  4. Continue pinning the hem all the way around the sweater, making sure that it is straight and even.
  5. If the sweater has a curved hem, you may need to make small snips along the folded edge to help it lay flat. Be careful not to cut into the main body of the sweater.
  6. Once you have finished pinning the hem, try the sweater on to ensure that the length is still to your liking. Make any adjustments as necessary.

By following these steps and pinning the hem of your knit sweater carefully, you can ensure a professional-looking finish that will withstand the test of time.

Sewing the Hem

Once you have prepared the sweater for hemming by folding and pinning the fabric, it’s time to sew the hem. Follow these steps to complete the sewing process:

  1. Thread the sewing machine: Begin by threading the sewing machine with the appropriate thread color. Make sure the machine is set to a stretch stitch or a narrow zigzag stitch for sewing on knit fabric.
  2. Start sewing: Align the folded edge of the hem with the needle of the sewing machine. Lower the presser foot and begin sewing, making sure to backstitch at the starting point to secure the thread.
  3. Continue sewing: Sew along the folded edge of the hem, keeping a consistent seam allowance. Take your time to ensure the stitches are even and straight. You can use the edge of the presser foot as a guide to maintain a consistent seam allowance.
  4. Backstitch at the end: When you reach the end of the hem, backstitch again to secure the thread. Cut the thread, leaving a tail, and remove the sweater from the sewing machine.
  5. Inspect the hem: Once the hem is sewn, inspect it to ensure there are no loose or skipped stitches. If needed, sew over any areas that require reinforcement.

Congratulations! You have successfully sewn the hem of your knit sweater. You can now remove the pins and give your sweater a final press, if desired, before wearing or gifting it.

Finishing Touches and Final Steps

Once you have hemmed the knit sweater, there are a few finishing touches and final steps you can take to ensure a professional-looking finish.

  1. Press the hem: Use an iron on a low setting to press the hem, being careful not to stretch or distort the knit fabric. This will help the hem lay flat and give it a polished appearance.
  2. Trim any loose threads: Carefully inspect the hem and trim any loose threads or stray fibers. This will give the hem a clean and neat appearance.
  3. Check the length: Try the sweater on or use a dress form to check the length of the hem. Make sure it is even and at the desired length. If needed, make any adjustments by unpicking the stitches and re-hemming.
  4. Create a decorative edge: If desired, you can add a decorative edge to the hem. This can be done by using a contrasting color of thread or adding a row of stitching or trim along the edge of the hem. Be creative and experiment with different techniques to achieve the desired look.
  5. Add any final embellishments: Consider adding any final embellishments to the sweater. This can include appliques, buttons, or embroidery. Just make sure to attach them securely to the knit fabric.
  6. Care instructions: Lastly, make sure to include care instructions for the knit sweater. This may include washing and drying recommendations, as well as any special instructions for maintaining the shape and appearance of the hem.

With these final steps, your hemmed knit sweater is now complete and ready to be worn or gifted to someone special. Enjoy your beautifully finished project!


What tools do I need to hem a knit sweater?

To hem a knit sweater, you will need a sewing machine, thread that matches the color of your sweater, sewing pins, and a pair of scissors.

Can I hem a knit sweater by hand?

Yes, you can hem a knit sweater by hand if you do not have access to a sewing machine. Simply fold the hem under, pin it in place, and use a needle and thread to sew it together using a slip stitch.

What is the best stitch to use when hemming a knit sweater?

The best stitch to use when hemming a knit sweater is a stretch stitch or a zigzag stitch. These stitches allow the hem to stretch with the fabric and prevent it from popping or tearing when the sweater is worn.

How much should I hem a knit sweater?

The amount you should hem a knit sweater will depend on your personal preference and the style of the sweater. It is recommended to try the sweater on and pin the hem to the desired length before sewing to ensure an accurate fit.

Can I shorten the sleeves of a knit sweater?

Yes, you can shorten the sleeves of a knit sweater. Follow the same steps for hemming the body of the sweater, but make sure to measure and adjust the length of the sleeves accordingly.

Do I need to prewash the knit sweater before hemming?

It is recommended to prewash the knit sweater before hemming, especially if it is made from a fabric that may shrink. This way, any potential shrinking will occur before you hem the sweater and it will maintain its shape after washing.

What should I do if I make a mistake while hemming a knit sweater?

If you make a mistake while hemming a knit sweater, carefully remove the stitches using a seam ripper and start over. Take your time and make sure to measure and pin the hem accurately to avoid any future mistakes.


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