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Back That Hem Up... Stitch Those Knits

Updated: Apr 20, 2021

What's up Seamsters!

Back at it again with a little knit stitch tutorial. FYI... I love knits. They are super cozy and always forgiving. I really had to dust off an old machine for this one and I was struggling because I did not really have the best needles for the job (needles matter!) ... but I made it happen!

Most of the Sew & Tell knitwear patterns require a 1/2" turned hem and there's a few ways to hem those babies and I wanted to get down and dirty to explain just how you can back that hem up!

Like I said, I dusted off an old sewing machine because I really only use one of these techniques to finish my knits. Now don't fret, everyone has a different machine set up so just follow along for the knit hem style that works for you.

Single Needle Ziggity-Zag

Single Needle Ziggyity-Zag Stitch Front

Look, I don't want to insult anyone but this is definitely the most home-sewn look for hemming knits, which is another thing that makes me a bit twitchy. But hey, not all machines can handle a double needle (style two) and a coverstitch machine (style 3) might be a dream piece of machinery that you've yet to obtained. I get it and I'll accept that.

Sew, single needle zig-zag stitch it is!

Slip it into the machine and let it rip!

It's super easy too. Set up your machine to a narrow, but long zig-zag stitch.

Play around with a scrap of fabric and see what works best with the kind of stretch in your fabric. A light jersey or hachi will need a lot more stretch than a ponte.

With those machine stitches set up, turn the raw edge of your hem up and back towards the wrong side of your fabric.

**It's not a real biggie if you stitch with the wrong or right side of your fabric up as long as your stitches look the same. If they are better on the top then sew with the right side facing up.

Slide your fabric into your machine hem first and slam on the gas. Just be sure that you catch at least the raw edge of your hem within the zig-zag stitching on the backside of your fabric.

That's all it takes for this method, on to the next.

Double Needle Stitch

Threading your machine for a double needle might be intimidating but don't be afraid and do it anyway. Every machine is different so it's a stellar idea to check your manual to see if there are any instructions that might help, surfing the net is a good place too if that manual has disappeared. Don't be alarmed if your machine won't allow for a double needle (I have machines that don't allow a double needle!)

After you've determined the best way to thread your machine with a double needle the sewing is pretty simple.

Like the Zig-zag style you'll want to turn back the raw edge of your hem towards the wrong side of your fabric the desired hem amount.

This time, you will want the right side of your fabric facing up. Slide the hem into your machine first, put the foot down and let her rip. Of course, you want to catch the raw edge between your double needles on the underside, enclosing it within your bottom threads.

When you finish this method you'll have a double needle top-stitch on the right side and single thread zig-zag stitch on the wrong side of your fabric.

Pretty cool huh?

Coverstitching is my bestie.

Me + Coverstitch = BFF

I'm not secretive that using a Coverstitch is the ultimate in achieving a pro-looking knit hem, and I'm all about being pro at sewing. If you have one, like me, you don't miss the hemming methods listed above. For those without, keep the dream alive so that one day you'll have one of these bad boys in your arsenal.

Just like in the Double Needle style, every machine is a bit different on how you thread them and every fabric will vary in the tension and stitch length you should use. If you are unsure, just give it a quick test on some fabric scraps to make sure you are good to go.

So, just tuck under your desired hem allowance up and towards the wrong side of your fabric.

Next, slip your fabric hem first with the right side up into your Coverstitch.

Drop that presser foot like it's hot and hit the gas. Stitch around your hem and, once again, be sure you are catching the raw edge of your hem with the underside threads.

Ta-flipping-da you are done!

That's it Seamsters, that's how you stitch yo knits and back that hem up.

Till next time–


Want to check out how I like to Back That Hem Up for woven fabrics?! Well check out the rolled-hem-roll-out here.



Jenn Barron

A pattern specialist, master seamster and digital badass. Jenn establishes a place where creativity, authenticity and sewing meet, helping make all the things so that you can  be you.

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