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Knowing how to sew a blind hem, or invisible hem, is a great skill to have, especially for sewists interested in garment construction or home decor.
This is because blindstitch hemming provides a professional finish for many projects–dress slacks, suits, skirts, eveningwear, and even draperies.
And, since the blind hem stitch is practically invisible, this method is more forgiving than traditional double-fold hemming if you aren’t yet great at sewing straight on your sewing machine.
While you can also sew a blind stitch hem by hand, I prefer machine sewing mine using a blind hem presser foot; hand stitching takes more time, concentration, and finger dexterity.
Check out this easy sewing tutorial about how to make an invisible hem on a sewing machine using the blind hem stitch and blind hem presser foot.
What is a blind hem stitch?
Commonly sewn on garments, a blind hem stitch is barely noticeable and one of the best ways to finish a hem if you don’t want to see a line of stitches.
Most sewing machines have at least one blind hem stitch, which are stitches 2-01 or 2-02 on my Brother sewing machine, as seen above.
Use the standard blind hem stitch (2-01) for woven, nonstretchy fabrics and the stretch blind hem stitch (2-02) for hems on stretchy, knit fabrics. (Although, if you have a serger, most sergers easily make stretch blind hems on knit garments, too.)
If you don’t have a blind stitch on your machine, the standard invisible hem stitch can be created by advancing two to four straight stitches and then stitching one wide zigzag stitch before repeating.
Stretch zigzag stitches are created by changing the straight stitches to narrow zigzag stitches.
Also, while the stitch created looks complicated on the interior of the project, the garment exterior will only have small areas where the thread catches the fabric visible, as shown above.
What a Blind Hem Presser Foot Looks Like
Machine manufacturers make different types of invisible hem accessories for their machines, but your blind hem presser foot will likely look like one of the two above.
The left blind stitch foot (presser foot letter R) is from my Brother sewing machine, while the right is a blind hem foot from my Singer sewing machine. It is available as an optional accessory for Brother sewing machines also (presser foot letter L).
Both will make a blind hem, but the methods are slightly different, and I’ll model both below.
Can you sew a blind hem without a blind hem foot?
Technically, you don’t need a special blind stitch foot to use the blind hem stitch on a sewing machine. You can create the stitch with a regular zigzag foot.
However, the blind stitch foot serves as a sewing guide, making it easier for your to create precise, even, and straight stitches.
How to Sew a Blind Hem On a Sewing Machine (Step-By-Step)
Now, let’s cover creating that beautiful invisible hem step-by-step!
1. Decide How To Treat Raw Fabric Edges
Fabric edges that have been cut but not finished in any way are called raw fabric edges. Unfortunately, the raw edges of most woven fabrics will fray unless you take steps to prevent this.
To prevent fraying on blind hems, here are different ways to treat those raw edges:
- Fold the fabric to encase the raw edge when the invisible hem is created. (Make sure you have enough extra fabric for this.)
- Zigzag along the raw edge.
- Create an overcasting stitch along the fraying edge.
- Use a 3-thread or 4-thread overlock serger stitch to neaten the edge.
- Add interfacing or use Fray Check (not my preferred methods).
- Most knit edges do not need to be neatened as they will not fray.
For thin fabric, my preferred method is to add an extra fold to the hem so no stitching is exposed on the interior of the garment.
This creates extra fabric bulk at the stitching line, so it is not ideal for thick fabrics. However, for thin fabric, the bulk is less than the extra thread bulk a serged edge would add.
For thick fabrics, I add a simple zigzag stitch if needed to prevent fraying.
2. Determine the Hem Line
Now, decide where you want the hem of your fabric to go.
Starch, Best Press, or other fabric stiffening methods can also give more structure to the pressed hem and make it easier to sew later.
For a thin fabric with a double fold, it will look like the picture above. I like folding that extra fold 3/8.”
For a thick fabric, if you choose to zigzag, you’ll only have a single fold like the above picture instead.
Next, mark the fabric 1/4″ from the fabric’s edge using your favorite sewing marking method that won’t be made permanent by heat. (3/16″ is another popular marking distance if you prefer this smaller value, but I’m so used to 1/4″ sizes from quilting!)
If desired (not required, but it makes folding easier), baste along that line by hand or using the regular zigzag foot on your sewing machine and a long-length straight stitch.
Use a thread color compatible with your fabric. (I used black to make it more visible for this tutorial.)
If you’re a more experienced sewist, marking isn’t necessary, but it’s helpful for beginners who are figuring things out!
3. Create the Blind Hem Fold
Fold back your fabric right sides together along the basting stitch line. Pin, press, or clip in place to prevent movement during sewing.
You’ll be left with the two sides of your fabric looking like the above pictures.
If you didn’t mark or baste, your fabric should look like the above two pictures if you folded your raw edge under.
4. Stitch The Invisible Hem
Next, load your machine with thread compatible with your fabric in a shade of the same color or slightly darker than your fabric.
Then, place your blind hem presser foot on your machine, and follow the instructions for your presser foot type below.
A. Using Brother Blind Hem Foot R or Equivalent to Make Blind Hem
First, lift the presser foot, and place the fabric underneath, lining up the bulk of the garment or drapery to the left of the presser foot.
The majority of the right side of the fabric will face down so you’ll be stitching on the wrong side of the fabric.
Line up the guide on the bottom of the presser foot with the fabric fold. As you stitch your blind hem, you will want to guide the garment with this guide remaining right against that fold.
Next, lower the presser foot.
Then, slowly advance the presser foot by turning the handwheel on your machine to make sure the needle will clear the finger in the middle of the presser foot.
The needle should go to the left of the finger and catch the edge of the hem fold at the top of each zigzag stitch.
Decrease the stitch width until the blind hem stitch just grabs the edge of the fabric fold.
It has to catch if you want the blind hem to work, but the more space it catches, the more visible the hem will be from the front of the garment.
Then, lower your presser foot, and start stitching!
If you want to lock your stitches, opt for reinforcement stitches at the beginning and end of your stitching line when the needle is in a straight stitch section on the hem itself, as this will not be visible on the outside of the hem.
As you stitch, make sure the straight stitches are parallel to the hem fold, and make sure the zigzag stitches barely catch the fabric to the left of the fold.
Also, be careful over seams, as the guide can have difficulty jumping them without help.
B. Using Blind Hem Foot With Adjustable Guide
If you have a blind hem foot like my Singer (or Brother foot L), the setup is slightly different, but the theory is the same.
First, lift your presser foot, and place the fabric where the needle (in its farthest left position) barely hits the edge of the folded fabric hem.
Then, adjust the guide using the screw on the top right so the guide just hits the right of the fold. This will help you sew a straight hem.
Lower the presser foot.
The bottom edge of the guide will go slightly under the fold as shown above.
Start stitching as you did with Brother presser foot R, and make any stitch length or width adjustments as needed along the way.
5. Fold Back Hem
Once you’re done sewing your blind hem, use your iron to press the fold out of the fabric, and check to make sure the exterior is suitably invisible.
6. Remove Basting Stitch
If you used a basting stitch, remove it, and finally marvel at your final creation!
How to Remove a Blind Hem Stitch
Now, if you stitched on the wrong side of your fabric accidentally or didn’t catch the edges right and need to start again, remove your invisible hem stitch.
The easiest way to remove a blind hem stitch is to use your seam ripper to rip all the zig-zag stitches from the back.
Then, simply pull the layers apart, and the blind hem should come away easily.
Blind Helm Alternative: Hem Tape
Sewing an invisible hem with a sewing machine seem too difficult?
Thankfully, another easy option for invisible hemming is hem tape.
Simply stick the tape inside the hem, press, and voila!
You can see it in action in my no-sew doll skirt tutorial.
Any other tips for sewing a blind hem on a sewing machine you recommend? Let me know!