Sunday, May 18, 2014

How to Sew a Ribbon Hem

Sewing ribbon to the hem edge of a garment is an easy finishing technique. It adds an extra detail and can also be used to preserve the length of the hem. I regularly use ribbon to finish hems as well as sleeve and neckline edges, though I wasn't always confident in doing so. The soon-to-begin Belcarra Sewalong means that it's as good a time as any to show how I sew ribbon hems.







I sewed ribbon hems for the two Belcarra blouses from Sewaholic Patterns that I recently made. I liked the unhemmed length of the blouses, and didn't want to turn up a full hem. Also, the fabric in both was lightweight, so I wanted to add a little weight to the hems.









A huge variety of ribbons will work for hemming purposes. It is useful, but not necessary, to match the ribbon type with the fabric type. For the beige Liberty tana lawn cotton Belcarra blouse, I used a cotton stitched ribbon from janemeans. For the green AnnaMarie Horner cotton voile blouse, I used a polyester ribbon also from janemeans.

I would strongly recommend prewashing the ribbon in the same manner that you will treat the finished garment.

What you need:

-A sharp/new sewing machine needle

-Good quality grosgrain or cotton ribbon, the same length (+1.5cm overlap) as the hem

-Matching thread colour - matched to the ribbon colour rather than the fabric.

-Garment with side seams sewn & finished, ready for hemming



Step 1:

Place the wrong sides of the fabric and ribbon together. If the ribbon doesn't have a wrong side, choose one side as the wrong side.

Place the ribbon on the fabric so that the right side of the ribbon and the wrong side of the fabric both face up as in the picture

Ensure the ribbon overlaps the fabric edge by approx 1cm or up to half the width of the ribbon.

Sew the long left edge of the ribbon to the hem edge using a long stitch length. The line of stitching should be approx 2-3mm in from the long left ribbon edge.
Step 2:
When you have stitched all around the hem, cut the ribbon allowing for an extra 1.5 cm to fold under. Fold the end of the ribbon in by 1.5 cm and continue sewing. Backstitch when you have sewn the overlap. This line of stitching will become the lower edge of the garments hem.
Step 3:
Turn the garment so that the right side of the fabric faces upward. Fold the ribbon over at the stitching line, so that the ribbon covers the raw hem edge and the right side of both the ribbon and the fabric are facing up. Press the ribbon and fabric.
Step 4:
With the right sides of the fabric and ribbon facing upwards, sew along the edge of the ribbon, enclosing the raw edge of the fabric.




Step 5

When you reach the folded short end of the ribbon, sew across the ribbon width and backstitch to finish.

Step 6:

Press hem edge again.



This technique works perfectly on straight hem edges, but will also work on a slightly curved edge. If you wish to sew a ribbon hem on a circle skirt/dress edge, a narrow ribbon will work better.


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  1. Oh I love this! I often want my hems longer but I like the extra weight so it hangs perfectly. Great pics & tutorial, thanks!

    1. Thanks Karen, it's such a useful technique to know :-)

  2. Great technique! It gives a lovely finish.

  3. The ribbon hem gives such a nice finish! Thanks for sharing how you do it.:)

  4. Cindy, glad you like it :-)