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How to Hem a Knit Dress by Hand: 5 Easy Steps for a Professional Finish (2024)

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how to hem a knit dress by handTo hem a knit dress by hand, start by measuring and marking your desired length, then trim excess fabric and press the hem.

Choose a ballpoint needle and stretchy thread to accommodate the fabric’s elasticity. As you stitch, gently stretch the fabric and make sure the needle only pierces the folded edge. Maintain consistent tension and watch for proper bobbin thread catch.

Secure the beginning and end points, and trim excess thread. For added stability, consider using hemming tape or a catch stitch.

Key Takeaways

  • Threading the needle with stretchy thread is like giving your hem superpowers – it’s the secret sauce for keeping your knit dress flexible and comfy. No more popped stitches when you bend over to pick up that dropped phone!
  • Gently stretching the fabric as you stitch is a bit like walking a tightrope – you want just enough tension to prevent puckering, but not so much that you end up with a hem tighter than your grandma’s grip on her purse strings.
  • Using a ballpoint needle is like sending a smooth-talking diplomat to negotiate with your knit fabric. It’ll glide between the fibers without snagging, leaving you with a hem that’s neat as a pin.
  • Practicing on scraps first isn’t just busywork – it’s your dress rehearsal before the big show. Think of it as a first date with your needle and thread before committing to the whole outfit. You’ll thank yourself later when your hem looks runway-ready!

How to Hem a Knit Dress by Hand?

To hem a knit dress by hand, start by measuring, marking, and pressing the desired hem length, then use a stretch stitch or catch stitch with a ballpoint needle and stretchy thread. Work slowly, gently stretching the fabric as you sew to maintain its elasticity and guarantee a professional-looking finish that moves with the knit material.

Prepare the Fabric

Prepare the Fabric
To prepare your knit dress for hemming, start by measuring and marking the desired hem length, then trim any excess fabric. Next, press the hem carefully to create a crisp edge, which will make hand-sewing much easier and result in a more professional finish.

Measure and Mark the Hem Length

To measure and mark your hem length, start by putting on the dress and deciding where you want the hem to fall. Use a ruler or measuring tape to guarantee an even length all around. Mark this line with chalk or a washable fabric marker.

Here’s a quick guide to marking techniques:

  1. Chalk: Great for dark fabrics, easily removable
  2. Fabric pens: Ideal for light-colored knits, fade over time
  3. Tailor’s tacks: Perfect for delicate fabrics, won’t leave marks
  4. Pins: Quick method, but be careful not to stretch the knit

Trim the Excess Fabric

Now that you’ve marked your hem length, it’s time to trim the excess fabric. Leave about 1-2 inches of fabric allowance below your marked line for folding. Here’s your trim guide:

  1. Use sharp fabric scissors for a clean cut
  2. Follow the marked line carefully, using ballpoint pins as guides
  3. Save larger fabric scraps for future projects
  4. Consider the hem width when trimming, allowing for your chosen hemming stitch

Press the Hem

Now it’s time to press your hem for a crisp finish. Fold the raw edge to the wrong side, aligning it with your marked hem line. Use a presser foot or hemming gauge for accuracy. Press the folded edge firmly with an iron, creating a sharp crease that’ll make stitching easier.

  • Set your iron to the appropriate heat for your knit fabric
  • Use a pressing cloth to prevent shine or damage
  • Consider using hemming tape for added stability

Prepare the Needle and Thread

Prepare the Needle and Thread
To prepare for hand-hemming your knit dress, you’ll need to choose the right tools. Select a ballpoint needle to prevent snagging the fabric and opt for a stretchy thread like wooly nylon or polyester to allow for movement in the knit fabric.

Choose the Right Needle

Now that you’ve prepped your fabric, it’s time to choose the right needle for hemming your knit dress. The needle type and size are important for a professional finish. You’ll want to bear in mind:

  • Sharp needles for stable knits
  • Ballpoint needles for stretchy fabrics
  • Needle size matching fabric weight
  • Universal needles as a versatile option

Select Stretchy Thread

When hemming stretch fabrics, regular thread won’t suffice. You’ll need a flexible thread to guarantee that your knit dress hem remains flexible and durable. Here are some alternatives for you to examine:

  • Wooly nylon thread
  • Eloflex thread
  • Polyester thread with built-in stretch
  • Textured nylon thread
  • All-purpose polyester thread (in an emergency)

    Select a thread that corresponds to the weight of your fabric and the compatibility of your needle. Adjust your tension and stitch length to achieve the ideal knit hem stitch.

Thread the Needle

Thread your needle with elastic thread for best results. Choose a needle size suited for your fabric weight and type. Double the thread and tie a secure knot at the end. Here are some key points to remember:

  • Use a needle threader for easier threading
  • Consider a ballpoint needle for knits to prevent fabric damage
  • Adjust thread tension to prevent puckering

Threading correctly guarantees a smooth hemming process, giving you control over your knit dress’s final appearance.

Start Stitching

Start Stitching
Begin stitching by securing your thread at the starting point, then work your way along the hem using small, even stitches. As you sew, gently stretch the fabric to make sure your stitches will have enough give when the dress is worn.

Secure the Starting Point

Now that you’ve threaded your needle, it’s time to secure the starting point. Position your needle at the side seam or an inconspicuous area. Take a few small stitches to anchor your thread, ensuring a solid foundation for your hem. Consider these factors:

  • Needle position: Align it perpendicular to the fabric edge
  • Stitch size: Keep it small for a discreet start
  • Thread tension: Maintain a balance between tight and loose

This step sets the stage for a professional-looking hem, whether you’re working on maternity wear or patterned fabrics.

Stitch Along the Hem

Start stitching along the hem, using small, even stitches about 1/8 to 1/4 inch apart. As you work, keep these tips in mind:

  • Make sure the needle pierces only the folded edge, avoiding visible stitches on the right side.
  • Maintain consistent tension to prevent puckering in the stretch fabric.
  • Watch for the bobbin thread catching properly, especially if your machine is older.

Be patient and take your time to achieve a professional finish.

Stretch the Fabric Slightly

As you continue stitching along the hem, gently stretch the fabric. This technique prevents puckering and guarantees your stitches can flex with the knit material. Here’s how to master this essential step:

  1. Hold the fabric taut, but don’t overstretch
  2. Adjust needle tension for your fabric weight
  3. Use a longer stitch length for more flexibility
  4. Consider seam allowance when stretching

Finish the Hem

Finish the Hem
To finish your knit dress hem, secure the ending point by taking a few tiny stitches in the same spot. Trim any excess thread close to the fabric, being careful not to cut the stitches you’ve just made.

Secure the Ending Point

Now that you’ve reached the end of your hem, it’s time to secure your hard work. Follow these steps to guarantee a strong finish:

  1. Take several small stitches in place to anchor the thread.
  2. Create a small knot close to the fabric, matching the thread color to your dress.
  3. Consider a decorative knot for added flair, but keep stitch length consistent.

Trim Excess Thread

Once you’ve secured the ending point, it’s time to give your hem a polished appearance. Trim any excess thread on the wrong side of the fabric, guaranteeing a clean finish. This step is vital for both aesthetics and durability. Consider these tips:

  • Use sharp scissors for a precise cut
  • Trim close to the fabric, but not too close
  • Double-check for any loose threads
  • Gently tug the fabric to guarantee thread stability

Additional Tips

Additional Tips
To enhance your hand-hemming technique, consider using hemming tape for added stability and try a catch stitch for a professional finish. Don’t forget to practice on fabric scraps before tackling your dress, as this will help you perfect your stitches and build confidence.

Use Hemming Tape for Stability

For a professional finish on your knit dress hem, consider using hemming tape. This nifty tool provides stability to stretchy fabric, preventing unwanted stretching during wear. Here’s why you should give it a try:

  • Keeps your hem crisp and in place
  • Adds structure without bulk
  • Prevents wavy or rippled edges
  • Makes hand-sewing easier and more precise

Simply apply the tape to the wrong side of your hem before folding and stitching. It’s like giving your fabric a secret superpower!

Consider a Catch Stitch

While hemming tape offers stability, consider using a catch stitch

  • Herringbone catch: Adds strength and a decorative finish
  • Cross-stitch: Creates a unique, textured look
  • Zigzag chain: Provides extra stretch for active wear
  • Parallel whipstitch: Offers a nearly invisible finish
Experiment with these stitches to find the perfect balance of durability and stretch for your dress.

Practice on Scraps

Before tackling your dress, practice on scraps to perfect your technique. This allows you to contrast hand and machine hemming, experiment with thread colors, and test different stitch lengths. Choose fabric similar to your dress for the most accurate results. Try various hemming patterns to find what works best for your project.

  • Cut small squares of knit fabric
  • Thread needles with different colors
  • Test various stitch lengths and patterns
  • Compare hand-sewn hems to machine-made ones

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best way to hem a knit dress?

You’re juggling stretch and stability. For the best knit dress hem, use a catch stitch. It’s flexible, secure, and nearly invisible. Fold the hem, then create small diagonal stitches, catching only a few threads. You’ll have a pro-looking finish.

What is the best way to hand hem stretchy fabric?

Use a stretch stitch like herringbone or catch stitch. Work with the fabric’s natural stretch, not against it. Thread a ballpoint needle with stretchy thread. Take small, evenly spaced stitches, allowing for movement. Press gently when finished.

Is it possible to shorten a knitted dress?

You’d be amazed how easy it’s to shorten a knitted dress. With just a needle and thread, you can transform your garment. Measure carefully, use a stretchy stitch like herringbone, and voila! Your dress is perfectly fitted.

How to hem knits without stretching?

You’ll want to use a ballpoint needle and stretchy thread. Pin the hem while flat, then sew with a loose zigzag stitch. Don’t pull the fabric as you go, and press gently when finished. Easy peasy!

How do I hem a dress with a curved bottom?

For a curved hem, you’ll want to use a flexible stitch. Try the catch stitch or herringbone stitch. Pin the hem in small sections, easing fabric as you go. Don’t pull too tight – let the curve guide you.

Can I use elastic thread for hemming knit fabrics?

You can use elastic thread for hemming knits, but it’s not ideal. It’s better for gathering or shirring. Instead, opt for a stretch stitch or zigzag with regular thread. This’ll give you a more durable, professional-looking finish.

Whats the best stitch length for hand-hemming stretchy fabrics?

You’d think longer stitches stretch more, but surprise! For hand-hemming stretchy fabrics, keep it short and sweet. Aim for 1/4 to 3/8 inch stitch lengths. They’ll give you the flexibility you need without compromising stability.

How do I prevent my hand-sewn hem from unraveling?

To prevent unraveling, secure your hand-sewn hem with a double knot at the start and finish. Use a catch stitch or herringbone stitch for added strength. You’ll also want to choose a sturdy thread that matches your fabric’s stretch.

Should I prewash my knit fabric before hemming?

Yes, you should prewash your knit fabric before hemming. It’ll prevent future shrinkage and guarantee your hem stays in place. Plus, you’ll get a better feel for how the fabric behaves, making your hemming job easier.


Now that you’ve learned how to hem a knit dress by hand, you’re ready to conquer this sartorial challenge with confidence.

By following these five steps, you’ll achieve a professional finish that’ll make your dress look like it was crafted by an expert.

Remember to use the right tools, maintain consistent tension, and practice on scraps before working on your actual garment.

With a little patience and skill, you’ll be hemming knit dresses like a seasoned seamstress in no time.

Happy stitching!

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.