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How to Make a Perfect Narrow Hem

Posted by Betsy C on

Priceless: When someone shows you a clever way of doing something rather mundane and in a moment of awe and giddiness you realize, "I will finally like doing this!"

I was always slipping and sliding around the sample room floor at work because of these small bits of weird 1" wide woven trim that looked like a coated horsehair.  Smooth shoe soles, a plethora of thread, chiffon scraps, and ban roll are a recipe for disaster and injury when you are quickly trying to escape the steely glare of the cutter and samplemakers who know you don't usually breach their realm.  I did not work directly with the sample hands, but rather existed on the same plane with no common language so at the time avoidance was the best method for all parties.  I would venture in only for quick jaunts. Finally one day my curiosity got the best of me and I mimed the question as best I could. What the heck were these small ice skate equivalents? Thus ensued a rousing game of sewing charades where one of the sample hands eagerly demonstrated a fool-proof way to make a perfect hem, which I will be forever grateful for learning and demonstrating that sewing is a language in itself. 

The weird coated horse-hair turned out to ban roll, a trim generally used to stabilize waistlines. But here is how it works for hems:

1) Start off by leveling your hem and ensuring there are no pointy or uneven bits (example: side seams are off by a touch. Trim the longer one to make a smooth edge).


2) Take your ban roll and pull off enough strands to equal the finished width you desire for your hem. This width I will refer to as the "teeth".

3) On the face/right side of the garment, position the ban roll so the "teeth" edges are parallel to the hem. Stitch on top of the "teeth", parallel to the woven inside edge. Be careful not to stitch above the woven edge.

4) Once you have gone around the entire circumference, overlap the ban roll to finish the stitch line. Trim any excess ban roll length at this point if it is easier for you to handle. (Tip: if you can keep your ban roll as long as possible you can reuse it many times over.

5) Flip the teeth edges to the inside. Flip inside once again.

6) Turn the garment over and pull the fabric taut against the teeth. 


7) Stitch very close to the top edge all around and backstitch.

8) Carefully pull out the ban roll from the hem and give the hem a good press for a professional finish. 

Easy-peazy, right? Try it yourself. You can order ban roll from here!


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  • I am SO tired of fighting with these slippery fabrics; it’s like it grows while you’re working on it. I can hardly wait to try this technique before I need to hem another chiffon dress. Already put in my order for BanRol. Thanks for passing this technique along.

    Linda Bradford on
  • Fantastic! I am going to try this technique. Thanks.

    Fatimah on
  • Awesome! Thanks

    Cecilia Borglin on
  • This is brilliant! Thank you for sharing :)

    Dina on

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