One of my favorite hand-finishes for hems is the cross stitch (also known as the catch stitch) hem. This interlocking stitch looks like a series of little pyramids, and is extremely strong yet flexible, allowing the hem to float a little. The interlocking stitch will keep your layers of fabric close to each other, reducing bulk. This is also a great stitch to tack down facings, or open seam allowances on the interior of a garment.
Step One – Mark, press, and secure your hem. Mark your hem, press it into place, and secure your hem using pins or by basting it into place. Note that in the photos on my sample, my hem is not pinned or basted. These photos were on a sample project for a class I teach, and I wanted the photos to clearly show the stitches without anything extra going on. In these photos I am using red thread for clarity, however if you use a matching thread this stitch should be invisible from the right side of your project.
Step Two – Thread the needle and knot your thread. Thread the needle and knot your thread, using any knot method you prefer. When sewing the cross-stitch, thread your needle place a knot on one end. You will NOT double up your thread, like you did for buttons, snaps, and hooks. Your hem will typically be folded up, as shown.
Step Three – Beginning your stitch. When working a cross-stitch, you will be working from left to right. Insert your needle into the folded up edge of your fabric on the far left (or at any point of a circular hem), and pull through.
Step Three (continued) – Thread pulled neatly through and ready to begin stitching.
Step Four – Move your needle about ¼” to the right of where you began and take a tiny stitch ABOVE your folded-back edge (the black serged edge here) from right to left. The goal is to pick up a single thread of your fabric – this is the stitch that will be seen on the outside of your garment. The right to left stitch will lock your hem into place, making it nice and sturdy.
Step Five – Pull your thread through. Your thread should be firm, but not tight – if your stitches are tight, they’ll pucker and your hem will be untidy.
Step Six – Move your needle another ¼” to the right, and take a small stitch through the folded-back hem moving from right to left. Pull your thread through. Since this stitch is not visible on the outside of your garment, you can take a slightly larger stitch here. Still, make it a goal to keep your stitches small and tidy. Pull your thread through, keeping your tension firm but not tight.
Step Seven – Repeat these steps until your hem is complete. Knot off in your favorite manner and hide your thread tail in the fabric fold before snipping your thread.
Your finished hem should look like a tidy little row of pyramids on the back:
And tiny little pin-prick stitches on the front!