Mini Tutorial: How To Sew A Classic Band Hem
Start by measuring, marking and cutting the separate band strip. The initial fabric strip should be cut at the length of the hem edge plus 2 seam allowance. In terms of the width, the band should be double the desire final width plus 2 seam allowance, each one matching the hem allowance width. In this example the hem allowance is 1/4" thus the seam allowance along each lengthwise edge of the band is also 1/4"- you'll see why in the steps to follow:
1. Once cut, fold each lengthwise edge of the band strip inward (toward the fabric's wrong side), at the seam allowance width- 1/4" in this case. Iron each fold to crease the folded edges.
2. Next, fold and iron the fabric strip down the the center with fabric wrong sides touching the the two folded lengthwise edges aligning a shown above.
3. Align the short ends of the band together with the bands fabric face side touching and insert pins perpendicular to the edge to secure.
4. Stitch the band vertical seam together at the designated seam allowance. In this case, the seam allowance is 1/4".. Once stitched, iron the seam with the seam allowance open. It is easiest to iron from the wrong side of the seam as shown above.
5. With the garment on its face side, unfold and align one of the lengthwise edges of the band with the garment's hem allowance edge with face sides touching and insert pins perpendicular to secure. The band's vertical seam should align with one of the garment seams (crossing into the hem).
6. Stitch the pinned edges together at the designated seam allowance. In this case, since the band's lengthwise edge were pre-folded, you can simply follow the band's crease line as a guide in the stitching process.
Once complete, iron the seam with the band and seam allowance layers pointing away form the garment. You can skip this step if the pre-folded band already lays flat at the seam after machine stitching.
7. Once attached to the garment's hem, the band will naturally wrap around to encase all raw edge. This is where pre-folding the band beforehand is helpful and facilitate the correct alignment process. Insert a few pins perpendicular to the edge to keep the band layers securely positioned over the raw edge of the hemline.
8. While you can topstitch the band closed, the best way to clean finish and seal the band edge is by hand using a slipstitch. A slipstitch provides a blind finish with stitching that is not visible in either side of the finished hem. To apply a slipstitch, stitch through the band's open fold, then catch 2-3 threads form the garment surface (next to the band's machine stitch applied in Step 6 above). Continue stitching from the band's folded edge to the garment surface until the entire band is sealed and complete.
The beauty of a slipstitched band is that the finished hem looks clean and professional on both the right and wrong side of the application. The stitch disappears into the band's folded edges, providing a clean, more elegant finish.