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Cleverly Curved Knit Hems

A knit hem option we include in the Clever Crossing Variations (CC) is the curved front hem.   It can be used on any double layer front, like the CC Surplice design, to add shaping at the hemline.  What can catch you off guard about this hemline is that it needs to be finished early in the top’s construction, long before the side seams are stitched and the hem is completed.

Black & White Surplice
Black & White Surplice with curved hem.

Here are some tips and step-by-step photos to illustrate the process featured on page 11 of the CC instruction booklet.

The curved front hem is formed on the right side of your surplice construction, which will be on top when you stack the two fronts.  (In the photos it looks like the reverse!) Once you have finished the neckline treatment, which in the CC surplice can be a knit binding, shaped band, or cowl collar, you finish this curved hem on the right front before stacking the two fronts.

Simple curved 1″ hem.

Each Surplice front has two small tucks that provide shaping and fit to the wrapped side.

Left side with 2 pinned tucks.

After forming the two marked tucks on the top layer, create 2 or 3 additional tucks, evenly spaced to pull the hemline up into a gentle curve.

Multiple tucks on Right side.

Each ½” deep tuck will shorten the hem by one inch.

After arranging the tucks so you are pleased with the hem curve, stitch in the hem of the curved front piece before basting the two front layers together.

Adding a decorative binding to the curved hem will draw attention to it, as I did on this top and on the black and white surplice shown above.  If you are adding a binding, it should repeat the binding used to finish the neckline.  For this top, the 3/8” inch binding around the curved hem repeats the 3/8” binding used to finish the neck edge.

Added curved front binding before finishing.

When you are preparing the hem for a binding, trim off the the width of the finished binding from the right layer so the hem will fall in the correct place.

Pinned binding showing excess that must be cut away.

I usually pin the binding on and flip it over to check the length before I sew and serge the hem.  When the front hem is complete, stack the two fronts and baste them together along the sides.

The stacked fronts with the left side hem extending below the finished right side hem.

The curved hem’s finished edge makes the  right front, which is on top of the stack, shorter than the left front, which is on the bottom of the stack.  That is the correct placement, with the left front’s hem still raw.

Now check the fit.  Sometimes you need to shift the tucked, curved hem front a bit for a smooth fit.  If you cannot assess the fit, baste the seam along the right side as you continue the construction process.  That way you can more easily shift the seam if necessary once the sides and sleeves have been sewn into place.

When you are pleased with the fit and ready to stitch the remainder of the hem, pin it into place keeping the right side with the finished hem free.

The remainder of the hem.

As you stitch the hem into place, shift the top layer with the binding from side to side so it does not get caught in the stitching.

Completing the hem with the right layer flipped to the wrong side.

I think this is a very graceful hem and encourage you to try it on your surplice tops.  When you are mixing a variety of fabrics, this technique can provide definition as it does in this black and white mixed print top shown at the top of the post.

Here I am wearing this fun top in the ASG fashion show. The fabric matches the jacket perfectly.

Make sure you get your Clever Crossing Variations pattern so you can try these techniques too.  It is a great pattern for using up small pieces of print and solid knits that you just cannot throw away.   Read about other knit hems for our Tabula Rasa Knit Tee and Tunic and its variations in our June 13th post on Knit Tee Hems.

Be sure to send us photos for our Facebook page.  We love to show off your creations.

Happy Sewing, RAE


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