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Easy Method for Narrow Hems

Have you struggled to sew narrow or baby hems? Carrie’s adventure into peplum tops lead her to perfect a clever technique for sewing those pesky narrow hems. Fortuitously, one of our retreat participants had shared this technique with Carrie during Fit for Art’s Spring Sew Successfully Retreat. Follow along the using the steps for an easy method for narrow hems.

This technique relies on Staple Ban-Rol waistband interfacing tape, which may be purchased by the yard or roll online; search for it with your preferred search engine. The 1″ wide tape is woven from stiff threads and works for this purpose because you can easily remove warp threads (long direction), leaving the stiff weft threads (short direction) to stitch over.

Step 1: Cut the length of Ban Rol needed for your garment hem, then peel away one warp thread at a time until the exposed weft threads reach the depth desired for your hem. For example, for a 1/8″ deep hem you’ll need to remove approximately 5 warp threads, and so on.

Step 2: Place the garment hem on the sewing machine, right side up. Lay the exposed edge of the tape along the raw edge of the garment hem and stitch by machine just to the right of the remaining warp threads.

Step 3: At your ironing station, turn the stitched edge to the wrong side of the garment and press. The interfacing tape will be extending away from the garment. Turn and press the edge under a second time so that the tape lies inside the garment.

Step 4: Stitch the hem in place, making sure the stitches do not cross into the warp threads of the interfacing tape.

Step 5: Turn the garment over and carefully pull the tape away, extracting the weft threads from inside the stitched hem. If a piece of warp is caught in a stitch, carefully snip the warp thread to release it.

Carefully pull interfacing tape out of the stitched hem.

Step 6: Press and admire your beautiful even hem! Roll up the length of Ban-Rol and save it to use over and over.

Carrie used this easy method to hem her linen and rayon peplum tops. (You may wonder why the linen hem is stitched twice; this was her first try and Carrie failed to catch the fabric in several places. It takes a little practice so don’t be hard on yourself!)

Carrie also hemmed this adorable cotton voile maternity top made for Rae’s daughter, Anna, using the same length of Ban Rol. It was a very long hem as both the front and back was an entire width of fabric (44″) for fullness!

If you are a visual learner, a search on YouTube will quickly locate video demonstrations of this technique.

Have you tried this method before? Or do you have another handy sewing trick to share with our community? We’d love to hear about it! Consider joining us at the Fall Sew Successfully Retreat (Nov. 15-17) to learn from and share with fellow sewists in a collegial atmosphere. Register here to reserve your space now as we limit the retreat to 12 participants.

Happy Sewing, Carrie

12 thoughts on “Easy Method for Narrow Hems

  1. Thanks. I had seen this before and told a friend who now uses it. I believe your instructions are much clearer and definitely more complete. Thanks!

  2. Raising my hand, that was me! So glad you did this step by step so now I know how! Thank you.

    1. Your instructions were perfect Anne. Thanks for this great tip!

  3. I keep experimenting with this and so far it’s worked with every fabric weight I’ve tried including a mid weight canvas. Haven’t tried denim yet. You just need to keep the narrow hem proportional to the fabric weight.

    Love both tops. They’re really cute!

    1. And good to know that you can use it with heavier fabrics as well.

  4. Brilliant technique, and such clear instructions! Thanks for sharing this.

  5. I’m ordering this tape today! Having just returned to garment sewing after a long hiatus, I’m interested in all ideas that make things easier. I just put a Hong Kong finish on narrow bottom & sleeve hems on a heavily embroidered fabric that was difficult to sew. I think this method might have been an easier solution and I’m looking forward to trying it.

    Carrie, I love your peplum tops and hope you’re planning a pattern variation for us.

  6. Genius idea! I will get the ban roll material.

  7. Oh my… gotta try this. Thanks for the info!

  8. I’ve been using this method for narrow, baby hems for a while now. Your instructions are wonderful, though I have a slightly different sequence that works for me. I do a lot of bridal work, on both wedding gowns and bridesmaids, with sheer fabrics – chiffon and georgette. This method gives me a beautiful baby hem on these fabrics, in less time than my traditional 3-step hem (that involves trimming away with applique scissors before the last turn and stitch). With the Banrol, I skip the pressing between the two stitching passes. Especially with a very narrow hem where I’ve only removed 3 or 4 strands to create the stitching comb, the added stress of moving the garment to the pressing surface and manipulating it to press out flat and then to the inside often pulls the hem off the comb in places. I get a smooth hem by holding it slightly taut as I turn it at the machine, rolling the comb and first stitched edge to the inside as I do the second stitch.

    1. This is very helpful; I haven’t tried it with sheers yet. Thanks for sharing your tip with our readers!

  9. Thank you for this. I’ve been hearing a lot about this technique but never understood how it worked until now. Your instructions are the most understandable I’ve seen thus far.

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