Blind Hem Stitch

The blind hem stitch is an excellent way of securing a fold in a piece of fabric. When it's done well, it doesn't show from the outside. Its use in the Middle Ages and Renaissance is well documented.

You'll start by folding the edge you're going to hem. If it is a fabric you don't expect to ravel, like a fulled wool, you may fold only once and then stitch along the raw edge. If it's not, you'll fold twice, so that you're stitching along a fold.

With each stitch, you'll very carefully slip your needle under just one thread in the body of the fabric, then put it through the edge or the fold, catching several threads there. Pull it snug, then move your needle a little along the hem and repeat.

The shorter the distance you move between stitches, the tighter your stitching will be. Try to make them tight and even. Don't take too big a bite out of the edge or fold with each stitch, either. Keep things tidy. There shouldn't be a lot of stress on this row of stitching, so a few threads is enough.

It's not a hard stitch to learn, but it will take some practice to get good at doing it. Here are a couple of photos of the top of a bag I made recently. As you can see, my stitches got a little irregular as I went, and one or two of them show a bit on the outside.

inside of bag

outside of bag

Of course, this is more evident here than it would be if I had used a thread closer in color to the fabric of the bag.

Fortunately, opportunities to practice this stitch abound. It's probably the most oft-used hand stitch in the S.C.A., because it comes in handy not only for those who hand-sew their garments but for those who do most of their sewing by maching but don't want machine stitching to show on the outside of the things they make (along hems, necklines, and cuffs, for instance).


This page was written and is maintained by Coblaith Muimnech, who owns its copyright. Please do not reproduce any portion without explicit permission.

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