I have been sewing with knits for a long time. I fell in love with knits when I was still in college and realized how forgiving sewing with knits was. I didn’t know anything about different kinds of knits and how to work with them. I just used them all and treated them all the same. Some of my projects turned out great, and some did know. I never had a problem hemming with a twin needle when I sewed swimsuit knits, but early on I realized it was really hard to get a nice flat, stretchy hem when I used a twin needle. Over the past ten years I have tried almost everything to get a nice hem with a twin needle. I have read every article and tried every trick. I tried changing bobbin tension, changing needle tension, sewing slowly, stretch thread in the bobbin, different fusible hem tapes, higher sewing machine foot pressure, inserting a strip of jersey fabric in the hem, and using tissue paper in the hem. And I could never make it work. I even took a break from sewing knits this year because I was so frustrated with tunneling and wonky hems! I found a new product HeatnBond Soft Stretch Lite* and my knit hems will never be the same. I was surprised at how well this product worked, and now I want to sew all the knits! (Go to the end for the giveaway!)
There are lots of different fusible hem tapes on the market. I just wanted to compare HeatnBond’s other products because I feel like the Soft Stretch* is so unique. They have three kinds that need to be sewn and two all for wovens. One does not need to be sewn, but it is for wovens. There’s only one, the Soft Stretch*, that is lightweight and for knits. I decided to use 5 different knits and test out three different ways of hemming to see which one I liked the best. There’s a roundup of pros of cons of each method at the end of the post.
Fabrics Used in This Post:
lightweight green cotton spandex (similar*)
midweight mint cotton spandex (similar*)
printed midweight cotton spandex – ice cream cone fabric, ice cream cone fabric, neapolitan cce cream cone (I got mine as a remnant from a warehouse, but I found some that at similar.)
lightweight gray bamboo rayon spandex*
midweight periwinkle bamboo rayon spandex*
striped bamboo rayon spandex* (in the first photo)
The three methods I used for hemming the knits were 1) hemming without anything extra, 2) hemming and inserting a strip of fabric in the hem, and 3) hemming with the Soft Stretch*. I’m not going to show you how to hem knits with a twin needle without anything extra. You can find that in other tutorials. I will show you how to hem with fabric and how to hem with Soft Stretch*.
Hemming with Fabric – Out of everything I’ve tried, this has been the most successful. (My hem thread still pull out though, so I wasn’t completely happy with it.)
1. Cut 1/2″ strips of the same fabric you’re working with with the stretch going the long way.
2. Lay the strip of fabric along the edge that needs to be hemmed.
3. Fold the fabric up 1/2″ enclosing the strip of fabric inside the hem.
4. Pin the hem and press.
5. Sew with a twin needle and tie of the ends.
Hemming with Soft Stretch
1. Cut the soft stretch the length you need. (If you have a curved hem then cut the strips in 3″ to 4″ to go with the curve.)
2. Place the soft stretch on the edge that needs to be hemmed and press for 5 seconds.
3. Let cool and then peel the backing off. The resulting interfacing is so thin you can hardly see it.
4. Fold up the fabric and press for 20 seconds.
5. Sew with a twin needle and tie off the threads.
I took pictures of each hem right after it was hemmed and then after I pressed it. The top row is a hem, the second row is a hem with a fabric facing, and the bottom row is a hem with Soft Stretch. Sewing the hem stretched out the fabric on all three, but it’s the most noticeable on the top two. Even after steaming and pressing, the fabric didn’t really return to normal except with the Soft Stretch. Also, the top two are wonky seams after being pressed because they were stretched out. This is one of the lighter fabrics I used which is trickier, but it shows what a difference it makes.
Nothing else is needed
Can control hem depth
Knit Hem – Fabric Facing
Sometimes prevents tunneling
Can control hem depth
Extra thing to cut out
Sometimes wonky seams
Hems stretch out
Can make seam bulky
Knit Hem – Soft Stretch
Prevents stretching out
Impossible to tell it’s there
Needs pressing before sewing
More time than the other two
Hem depths determined by tape
I took a picture of every hem stretched from the front and stretched from the back. You can see that the top two hems of each fabric tunnel when stretched and the bottom hem does not tunnel or only tunnels slightly.
Lightweight bamboo rayon spandex
Midweight bamboo rayon spandex
Lightweight cotton spandex
Midweight cotton spandex
Printed midweight cotton spandex
Did you learn anything new today? Which hem will you use from now on?