Hems are used to finish the edges of garments and other sewn items. While the basic functional purpose of a hem is to treat the raw edges of fabric to prevent them from fraying, hems also substantially affect the finished look of a garment. Hems are often the last step in the assembly process and it is important to be able do hems well, because they are one of the most visible elements and a poorly done hem can ruin the look of your garment or sewing project.
There are a number of different hemming methods that can be used depending on the style of the garment and type of fabric that you are using. In this series of articles, I will explain and illustrate some of the most commonly used hems and include some tips and tricks that will help you sew beautifully finished hems.
If you are using a pattern, it will usually specify the type and width of the hem to be used. One thing I like to do when working with a new pattern, is to look ahead and see what finishing method it recommends so that I can decide whether I want to change the hem before cutting my fabric. For example, I love the look of super wide hems (2 inches or so) on little girl's dresses, but to save fabric, many of them use a standard 5/8 inch hem, so I will lengthen the skirt to allow for the wider hem.