Feeling My Way Around a Blind Hem

Every time I set out to do a blind hem by machine, it takes me half an hour of thumbing through the manual, folding and refolding the hem, marking, pinning, swearing, and at least one test run on some scrap fabric to figure out what the heck I need to do. My machine does a nice blind hem, so it’s well worth documenting the steps. If you also have this struggle, read on…

The blind hem is a duet of a special presser foot and a special stitch.

My machine’s blind hem foot includes a guide bar that you butt up against the hem. The bar wraps straight around the bottom of the foot, except for a little jog where the needle goes when it’s doing the “blind” part of the stitch. I believe that such presser feet are standard on most machines, but if you don’t have one, they are well worth seeking out.

Obvs, you need to use the blind hem stitch in conjunction. It’s a sequence of a few short straight stitches all the way to the right, followed by one long wide zigzag to the left, followed by more short straight stitches.

When you sew a blind hem, the short straight stitches sink into the raw edge of the fabric at the hem of your pants or skirt, and the zigzag takes a tiny bite into an anchor point along your pants leg. This stitch is “blind” because most of the stitches go into the raw hem edge, and the zigzag anchor point is so tiny you can’t see it from the right side. While this seems like a fragile, fussy stitch, it’s actually very secure. Even if a zigzag stitch breaks when you’re wearing the garment, the hem won’t fall because all those small straight stitches are backing the zigzag up. I usually want this for any dressy clothes where a topstitched hem would look too casual.

Where I get confused is when it comes to marking and folding the hem correctly for the blind hem to work its magic. Start by finishing the raw edge of the hem (I just zipped it through my serger) and mark the wrong side of the fabric where you want the finished hem to anchor to the pants leg. In my case, that’s 2 inches from the raw edge.

Mark the anchor point for the blind hem

This is NOT the finished hem length – it’s just the anchor point – and you will need at least an inch below the anchor point for the finished hem. This means you might set the blind hem anchor point up higher than you’d do if this was a turn-and-topstitch hem.

Fold the hem in wrong side into right side along that anchor line, and press. Then, fold the hem back on itself so the raw edge just barely peeks out from under the anchor point line you just marked, like so:

Folding is the key to a good blind hem

My picture here shows the hem half folded in. The top is folded in and pinned, but the bottom isn’t yet. The fabric that lies between the anchor point and the bottom of the finished hem is tucked up in between the anchor point and the raw edge.

Position the pinned hem along the special presser foot like this from the wrong side:

Blind hem presser foot in action!

The bar rests against the anchor point’s foldline, and the raw edge is to the right. Stitch, and check to be sure the small straight stitches are going into the raw edge, and the long, wide zigzag is taking a tiny bite into the fabric on the left.

Sew all around the hem and press. If it’s all good, you’ll get a hem like this:

Occasionally the blind hem goes wonky for me if the tension is off. You want a rather loose stitch so there’s no puckering or drawing up. You might want to pay around with the tension. For the stitch length and width, I usually just go with whatever the machine’s preset sizes are, but if you’re dealing with bulky fabric, you can adjust the stitch – just be sure not to move the needle from its preset positions, or it may collide with the bar.

Besides the blind hem’s invisible appearance, it’s very easy to rip out if you want to change the hem of a skirt or pants anytime, since only the zigzag stitches into the anchor point are really holding the hem in place.

Author: shoes15

I live in Connecticut, USA with my husband and my dog, in an old house outfitted with a sewing room, a garden, an orchard, and a big liquor cabinet.

6 thoughts on “Feeling My Way Around a Blind Hem”

  1. Interesting! Your blind hem foot looks quite different from mine. I rarely use mine because it’s finicky; it’s adjustable in width and takes a bit of setting up. Gives a great result on thick fabric but not so good on anything thin, which is a shame because I don’t enjoy hand gemming. Wonder if I need to find a different foot.


  2. My main one is an Elna and the foot came with it. I should check if my backup machine (a fairly basic Singer) can do a blind hem stitch – it might be better than the Elna!


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