Sewing knit garment can be tricky, but with right techniques, this task becomes easier and more manageable. One of the most difficult parts of working with knits is sewing hem - there are a few different ways how to sew hem, and in this article I'll share the method I use the most. This knit hemming method uses serger seam and twin needle to create mock-coverlock effect: it creates a beautiful, long lasting seam finish, while maintaining seam elasticity. It can also be used on different types of knits - from light to heavy weight, from moderate to highly stretchy fabrics - without creating bulk. This method is also relatively easy to make, so let's start making it!
This tutorial is created in partnership with Organ Needles - needle industry experts.
Organ Needles are one of the leading brands in needle industry, with over 100 years of expertise in needle making. Organ Needles have a wide range of products and you can find a right needle for any type of project that you have on hand - even for tricky materials like super stretch fabrics. I've been using Organ Needles for several years in all of my machines - industrial sewing machine, domestic sewing machine, embroidery machine and serger. It's easy to recommend them as I use them regularly and their needle quality speaks for itself!
The finished result
Using this knit hemming technique, we will create an elastic hem that has two rows of stitches from the right side of the garment:
From the inside of the garment, the raw seam allowance will be neatly finished using serger seam; the top of serger seam will be secured with zigzag, created by twin needle - that zigzag will also give seam its elasticity:
How to sew a perfect knit hem
STEP 1: serge around the hem.
Using serger, sew around the bottom of the hem, neatening raw seam allowance. Finish seam by using big dull needle or crocheting hook to bring long thread tails back to the seam - this will create a secure seam finish that will not fall apart.
On my serger, I'm using Organ Needles EL x 705 CR needles. These needles are chromium finished for high performance and are suitable for different sergers and coverlocks. Using these serger needles, you can sew both woven and knit fabrics. Depending on your fabric weight, select the right size of needles - lower number for lightweight fabrics and higher number for heavy weight fabrics. Also, keep in mind to switch to new needles every 8 hours of serging!
TIP: if the fabric keeps rolling (common when working with knit fabrics, especially fabrics like jersey), use spray starch to flatten the fabric and make it easier to sew. The starch will go away after wash, but it will make sewing so much more easier! I show how to use spray starch in this video.
TIP: if your serger has differential feed, use it to create smooth serger seam. If the hem turns out wavy - increase differential feed ratio; if the serger seam is puckering - decrease differential feed ratio.
STEP 2: press the hem flat and mark seam allowance.
After the serger seam is finished, press the hem flat. Then, using chalk, mark hem allowance on the right side of the garment.
STEP 3: fold the hem, press and baste stitch.
Fold hem allowance to the inside, making sure that the fold goes right on the marked line. Press the hem. If you're sewing a curved hem, first press the bottom (edge of the fold) and then gently move up the seam allowance, giving plenty of steam at the top, so that the fabric is gathered at the top.
Using baste stitch, secure the hem to place. The trick here is to stitch at the same distance from the edge, using serger seam as a guide - this will work as a guide when sewing later with twin needle. I usually stitch at first line of the serger stitch.
STEP 4: sew around the hem using twin needle.
On your sewing machine, install twin needle. Just as regular sewing machine needles, twin needles come in 2 formats: universal twin needles for woven fabrics and stretch twin needles for knit fabrics. As we are creating an elastic hem on knit fabric, I'm selecting Organ Needles Twin Stretch needle. Select the needle size depending on fabric weight and also pay attention to distance between 2 needles - I like to use 4mm distance when sewing hems, but select the distance that will look best for your design!
TIP: when threading twin needle, use two threads at the top. If you don't have 2 cones of same thread color, wind a spare bobbin and use it instead of second thread!
TIP: when threading twin needle, skip the needle bar when threading right needle - this will prevent threads from tangling. I show how to thread twin needle in this video.
When twin needle is installed and threaded, sew around the hem using straight stitch. Sew from the right side of the garment and use baste stitch as a guide - the right needle should go along the edge of baste stitch. Begin and end twin needle seam by leaving long thread tails and once seam is finished - bring them back to the seam using hand needle; tie knots, so that the seam does not fall apart.
STEP 5: press the hem.
Remove baste stitch and press the hem. Make sure to not overpress the hem - instead, gently glide the iron above the fabric and give it a good steam. Your knit hem is finished!
I hope you enjoyed learning this technique! This technique also has a video tutorial that you can watch here: