One Stitch, Two Ways

This week we will show you two different ways to do a herringbone stitch, a stitch often used in hemming garments. One method will produce the classic, visible herringbone look, whereas the second method provides an invisible hem. We know lots of you use herringboning as your standard stitch to do hems that need doing by hand, but it isn’t always the most practical choice. Let’s explore!

Classic Herringbone Stitch

Let’s start with the basics and go through a standard herringbone stitch. You will find this stitch on trouser hems, skirt and dress hems and inside coats. It’s pretty to look at, it provides a hem that’s invisible on the outside but visible (in a pretty way) on the inside of the garment. It requires quite a lot of thread and with time, you will get it nice and even.

Pros: this stitch is decorative, it’s invisible on the outside and the hem can stay nicely flat and pinned whilst you sew.

Cons: it’s visible on the inside, the exposed stitch can snag on a finger or toenail when taking garments on and off.

To start off your herringbone stitch, start your thread on the inside of the folded hem (see image above) and bring your needle out into your hem to begin. You will pick up the smallest amount of fabric on either side of your hem and you will stitch in a zigzag, picking up fabric from your hem and fabric from your garment. The smaller amount of fabric you pick up the better: if you pick up a larger amount, the stitch will draw it together and bunch your material.

Your needle will point in the direction where you came from, not in the direction you are sewing in. Keep your herringboning nice and small if it will be an exposed hem, such as on trousers or a skirt hem. If you need a hem to stay up before applying a lining, for example in a coat or a jacket, you can use this stitch too but you can make it bigger, as it will be eventually covered.

Invisible Herringbone Stitch

A herringbone stitch is used everywhere, but add this second method to your skill set and it will become an even more versatile stitch. A classic herringbone is visible, which van be decorative, but sometimes you want it to be invisible on both the inside and the outside of the garment. This also works well on trouser legs, as it’s easy to snag a herringbone hem when you are getting dressed. Try this one instead.

Pros: it’s invisible on both sides of the garment and it works well in places like cuffs and trouser hems.

Cons: a little more fiddly and harder to see what you are doing.

An invisible herringbone stitch uses the same zigzag technique, but instead of keeping the hem pinned flat, you tip over the very edge of the folded hem and sew in the fold instead. To do this it will help to pin your hem a bit lower down so you can access the inside fold. Use the same method of picking up the smallest amount of fabric on either side and watch as it disappears as you move along your hem.

You can use single or double thread for a hem done with a herringbone stitch, but it really depends on what material you are working with: the top of the zigzag picks up material from the main garment, so pick up too much fabric with your needle and it will show on the outside. But also, if you are using double thread on a fine fabric, you will most likely see it on the outside. So judge by the quality of your garment material whether you should use single or double thread.

Happy Herringboning!

We hope to have inspired you to step up your hemming game and add another skill to your sewing game.

Team Selkie

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