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Catch-Stitching a Hem (Two Variations) Tutorial

October 11, 2016 by MsJennyHomeMaker 0 comments

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Hello again, everyone! This month, I thought I’d share a more daily-wear item.  Wool pencil skirts in various weights are a staple in my wardrobe, nearly year-round.  Some of my favorites are made from double cloth or double serge wool, so when I spotted this cool pale blue wool double-cloth, I knew it would be perfect for a transitional skirt.  When I received it, I saw it had an interesting texture, so I decided to pick a slightly more fun and casual pattern, forgoing my usual Simplicity 2154 for Simplicity 8175. And I’m so glad I did – the fabric paired beautifully and I have a new favorite skirt!

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As I often do with staple items, wanted the fabric to speak for itself and kept the lines clean, with no topstitching or visible hemming.  In this case, I chose my go-to catch stitching.  Catch-stitching is an easy, versatile technique.  It doesn’t show on the outside, minimizes fraying, and has a bit of movement in it.

Variation 1 – for most garments

To start the hem, work from left edge and secure the thread with a double-stitch or a knot.  I like to start on the hem allowance, rather than the garment body, because you can take a larger “bite” without fear of it showing.  Then, on the garment body, insert the needle from right to left, grabbing only the underlining (or a few threads of the outer fabric if your fabric isn’t underlined). Pull through, but not too tight.  You want to leave a bit of flex in the hem.  Crossing over the previous line, insert your needle in the hem allowance, again from right to left, grabbing a small “bite”.  Note: the spacing of your stitches is entirely up to you.  I like to space mine ~.5” apart, which creates 1” Vs (for securing seam allowances throughout the garment, I use wider stitches, up to 2.5”.)  Continue around the hem until it the entire allowance is secure, and then end with a double stitch and thread the tail through to the back of the hem allowance. 

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1 Insert needle from right to left, taking a "bite" of the underlining

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2 Inserting needle from right to left, taking a “bite” of the hem allowance

Variation 2 – for pants or garments where snagging may be a problem or if you don’t want stitching to be visible inside or out

To start the “cleaner” variation, work from the left edge and secure the thread with a double-stitch and pass it through to the wrong side of the hem allowance. Insert the needle into the garment body, from right to left as above.  Then, fold the hem allowance back ~3/8” and insert the needle into the wrong side of the hem allowance, from left to right, grabbing only the underlining (or a few threads of the outer) as you would on the garment body.  Continue alternating between garment and hem allowance until the entire hem is secure.  Finish on the hem allowance with a double stitch.

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3 Insert needle from right to left, taking a "bite" of the underlining

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4 Folding the hem allowance back 3/8", insert the needle from right to left, taking a "bite" of the underlining

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5 No stitches visible on the inside!

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6 No stitches visible on the outside!

Always finish with a press and then admire the complete lack of visibility!

For more details on this skirt, swing by my blog: Jenny Homemaker

Happy sewing! X

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Jenny currently resides in Atlanta GA with her fiancé and dog and is a homemaker and slow fashion enthusiast. She has 6 years sewing experience and shares her journey on Jenny Homemaker. Sewing started as a way to fill some free time, but has completely changed how she views fashion and she is now working toward an entirely handmade, lasting wardrobe.

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