How To Hem A Knit Dress By Hand

Knit garments fit easily. They are incredibly comfortable to wear! It is because of their flexible nature, which admittedly, is both a merit and a demerit. On the downside, it makes the garment prone to uneven edges and puckering, especially when you are sewing at right angles to the grain. When hemming, you need to ensure that you uphold the merit and get rid of the demerit. You still want to put on and pull your dress out easily!

If you hem your knit projects as you do your woven projects, the fabric may end up being wavy and undesirable. The stitches could also pop out when you stretch your garment. Therefore, before beginning to hem your knit dress, ensure you have the process right. Hemming with a sewing machine makes the process fast and easy, but you may want to try it with your hands. It gives a nearly invisible finish.

How to Hem a Knit Dress by Hand?

Ensure that you pick a stitch that allows stretching of the garment. It means that the stitch should be able to stretch as well. Take your time to consider and pick one that will not compromise on the garment’s stretchiness. Depending on your dress’s desired final look, choose the type of hem you will use for your sewing project.

Choosing a Hem Type

You want your dress to look neat and professional. Therefore, choose the best type of stitch, hem, needle, and thread suitable for hemming your knit dress. Below are some of the hems you may consider to bring out different looks.

1. Consider Leaving a Raw Edge

Instead of going through the process of hemming, you may decide to skip it altogether. However, this depends on two things; your fabric and your hem preference. If your dress is a jersey knit dress, you can easily skip this process. Also, while an unhemmed garment may seem fashionable to some people, others do not like the idea of a rugged look.

To test whether your fabric will work well with a hem free finish, gently stretch the raw edge. If it unravels or frays, then this may not be the best option for you.

2. Create a Zig-Zag Hem

The zig-zag stitch functions as a hemstitch and as a decorative stitch. It adds glamour to your knit fabric, mainly when you use a thread of contrasting colors. And yes, you can do a zig-zag stitch by hand, too. It is perfect for knit fabrics as it allows for plenty of stretching. Turn the hem up and secure it with the zig-zag stitch. You may want to use narrow stitches as they are less noticeable, not unless you use them as decorative stitches.

Keeping the Hem Straight While You Sew

Knit garments tend to pucker at the edges. It could make the hemming process very problematic and stressful. Here are some sewing techniques that help to keep the hems straight as you sew.

1. Press the Hem

Take some time to press the hem with a hot iron before you begin to sew. Fold up your hem and iron it. It helps to make the stitching process more comfortable, and it also improves the garment’s final appearance.

You could also repeat this process when you finish hemming. If you had accidentally stretched a part of the hem, then this will help to shrink slightly.

2. Use Interfacing

Sewists do not particularly recommend interfacing for knit fabrics, but it helps you to structure your hem. It helps to ensure that you make straight hems as it offers a guide to follow while stitching.

3. Knit Stay Tape

It is a stretchy tape that has iron-on adhesive on one side. Attach it to the hem, and it will maintain its shape when you stitch it. Just make sure to iron it enough for it to stick to the garment.

4. Use Ballpoint Pins

Pins come in handy in most sewing projects when you need to hold pieces of fabric or parts of the same cloth together. Knit garments are no exception. Ballpoint pins prevent the holes that regular pins could make on your garment. Unlike the pointed tips that standard pins have, they have rounded ends and hence go between the knit stitches instead of poking them.  Pin them to your hem to hold it in place as you sew.

5. Avoid Stretching Your Fabric While Holding It

Be vigilant not to stretch your fabric as you sew. It may result in either puckering or an uneven hem. Try as much as possible not to pull the fabric as you sew. You may do this by placing the material on your table or holding it in your lap. Don’t let it hang as this will cause stretching.

Steps to Hemming Your Knit Dress by Hand

Now that you have done all the preparation, it is time to get sewing! Grab your needle and thread and give your dress a nice hem.

Step 1: Double up your thread by passing it through the needle eye. Work with approximately an arm’s length of thread to avoid tangling up the thread.

Step 2: Insert the needle where you want to begin the stitch. Don’t start too close to the edge of the fabric as this is the seam allowance. Leave at least a quarter to half an inch allowance for seam allowance.

Step 3: Insert your needle and run through the fabric to the other side, then back to the side, you started creating a small stitch. You may leave a more expansive space, but you don’t want to have substantial stitching gaps.

Step 4: Secure your thread by stitching twice at the same place, passing your needle through the same loop. Pull to tighten.

Step 5: Start with looping your thread over the hem, and passing your needle through the same spot on the other side of the fabric. Always ensure you are moving from the left to the right as you sew.

Step 6: Pull the thread, gently taking care to not tighten it to the extent that it causes warping of the fabric. It should just be enough to secure the stitch and prevent it from getting caught by external objects. Most importantly, it should allow the fabric to stretch.

Step 7: Repeat steps 5 and 6 to the end of your hem until it is entirely secure.

Step 8: At the end of the hem, secure your thread. You can do it by stitching twice at the same place, passing your needle through the same loop as in the beginning.

Step 9: Hide the tail by passing your needle through the layers of fabric taking care not to go all the way through. Take out the needle a couple of inches away from the double stitch. Cut off the flush of thread. It will disappear and hide in between the layers of fabric.

Suppose you find it hard to keep up even stitches while hand stitching; consider marking your fabric with a disappearing ink fabric pen. While stitching, follow the markings with your stitches.

Can You Alter Your Knit Dress?

Yes, you can! You can alter most natural fiber knits at the side seams to make them better fits. It encompasses fine knits such as those made in small-stitches machine-made items and also medium and heavyweight yarn knits. However, it needs a lot of skill, so you may need to take your garment to a competent sewer for the process.

How Can I Tell Apart a Knit Dress From a Woven Dress?

A knit fabric is made by continuously looping a single yarn to give a braided appearance. A piece of woven fabric, on the other hand, comprises multiple cords that cross each other perpendicularly to form the grain. To physically differentiate between the two, you can check their appearance or use either the stretching test, wrinkle test, or fray test.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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