How To Hem Without A Sewing Machine: A Step-By-Step Guide

Hemming pants, skirts, curtains, and other fabric items gives them a clean, professional finish. But what if you don’t have a sewing machine or just want a quicker, easier method? Don’t worry – you can still get a perfect hem without lugging out the heavy equipment.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: You can hand sew a hem using a needle and thread, or use iron-on hem tape, fabric glue, or fusible web. Read on for step-by-step instructions on each method.

What You’ll Need

Sewing Needle

A sewing needle is an essential tool for hemming without a sewing machine. Look for a needle with a sharp point and a large enough eye to easily thread your chosen thread. A size 8 or 9 needle is generally suitable for most fabrics.

Make sure to choose a needle that is appropriate for the weight and type of fabric you are working with.

Matching Thread

Matching thread is crucial for a seamless hem. Select a thread color that closely matches the color of your fabric. Polyester or cotton thread is recommended for most projects, as they are strong and durable. Double-check that you have enough thread to complete the entire hem.


Pins are necessary for holding the fabric in place while you hem. Look for straight pins that are long enough to securely hold the fabric without causing any damage. These pins will help ensure that your hem stays in place as you work.

Iron (optional)

While not essential, an iron can be helpful for achieving a professional-looking hem. Ironing your fabric before hemming can help remove wrinkles and make the fabric easier to work with. Ironing the hem after it is sewn can also help it lay flat and give it a polished appearance.

Iron-on Hem Tape (optional)

If you prefer an adhesive method, iron-on hem tape is a convenient option. This tape has a heat-activated adhesive on one side, allowing you to secure the hem without sewing. Simply place the tape between the fabric layers, iron it, and voila! Your hem is complete.

Keep in mind that this method may not be as durable as sewing, especially for heavy fabrics.

Fabric Glue (optional)

For temporary or quick fixes, fabric glue can be used to create a hem. This adhesive is designed to bond fabric together. Apply a thin line of glue along the hemline, fold the fabric, and press it firmly.

However, it’s important to note that fabric glue may not provide a permanent hold and may not withstand repeated washing or stretching.

Fusible Web (optional)

Fusible web is another adhesive alternative for hemming. It comes in the form of a thin sheet or tape that can be ironed onto the fabric to create a bond. Like iron-on hem tape, fusible web may not be as durable as sewing, especially for heavier fabrics.

It is best suited for lightweight fabrics or temporary hems.

Remember to choose the tools and methods that work best for your specific fabric and project. Experiment with different options to find the one that gives you the desired results.

Hand Sewing a Hem

When it comes to hemming garments, a sewing machine is not always necessary. In fact, hand sewing can be a great alternative for those without access to a machine or for those who prefer the control and precision that hand stitching provides. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to hand sew a hem.

Measure and mark the hem allowance

The first step in hand sewing a hem is to measure and mark the desired hem allowance. Using a measuring tape or ruler, measure the distance from the raw edge of the fabric to the desired length of the hem.

Mark this measurement with chalk or a fabric marker, making sure to mark it all the way around the garment for consistency.

Pin the hem in place

Once the hem allowance is marked, it’s time to pin the hem in place. Starting at one side seam, fold the fabric up to meet the marked hemline, creating a neat fold. Use sewing pins to secure the fold in place, spacing them a few inches apart.

Continue folding and pinning the hem all the way around the garment until it is fully pinned.

Sew the hem using a blind hem or slip stitch

Now it’s time to sew the hem. There are a few different stitches you can use for a hand-sewn hem, but two popular options are the blind hem stitch and the slip stitch. The blind hem stitch creates an almost invisible seam on the right side of the fabric, while the slip stitch is a more traditional hem stitch that is often used in tailoring.

To sew a blind hem, fold the raw edge of the fabric under and create a small, almost invisible stitch through both the folded fabric and the garment. Repeat this stitch every few inches along the hem, making sure to catch only a few threads of the fabric with each stitch.

This will create a secure hem without a visible line of stitching on the outside of the garment.

If you prefer to use a slip stitch, start by folding the raw edge of the fabric under and creating a small stitch through the folded fabric. Then, bring the needle up through the folded fabric, catching only a few threads of the garment.

Repeat this stitch every few inches along the hem, making sure to keep the stitches small and invisible on the right side of the fabric.

Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to hand sewing. Take your time, be patient, and soon you’ll be able to hem garments with ease, even without a sewing machine!

Using Iron-On Hem Tape

Iron-on hem tape is a convenient and easy-to-use alternative to traditional sewing when it comes to hemming your clothes. It provides a strong bond that keeps your hem in place and can be a real time-saver. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use iron-on hem tape:

Cut the hem tape to the right length

The first step in using iron-on hem tape is to cut it to the right length. Measure the hemline of your garment and add an extra inch or two to ensure a secure bond. Use a pair of scissors to cut the hem tape to the desired length. Make sure to use sharp scissors to get a clean cut.

Place the tape adhesive side down on the hem allowance

Once you have cut the hem tape to the right length, place it adhesive side down on the hem allowance of your garment. The adhesive side is usually the shiny side of the tape. Make sure the tape is centered and aligned with the edge of the fabric.

Press the tape firmly onto the fabric, making sure it adheres well. The adhesive on the tape is activated by heat, so it is important to ensure a good bond by applying enough pressure.

Iron to fuse the tape in place

Now it’s time to fuse the hem tape in place using an iron. Set your iron to the appropriate heat setting for the type of fabric you are working with. Place a pressing cloth or a thin piece of fabric over the tape to protect it from direct heat.

Then, press the iron on the pressing cloth, applying firm pressure and moving in a circular motion for about 10-15 seconds.

Repeat this process for the entire length of the hem. Be careful not to slide the iron as this may shift the position of the tape. Once you have ironed the entire hem, allow it to cool down before handling or wearing the garment.

The heat from the iron activates the adhesive on the tape, creating a strong bond between the fabric layers.

Note: It is always recommended to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging of the hem tape you are using. Different brands may have specific guidelines for application and care.

Using iron-on hem tape is a great option for quick and easy hemming projects. It eliminates the need for a sewing machine and can be done by anyone, regardless of sewing experience. Give it a try and see how this simple technique can transform your clothes!

Applying Fabric Glue

Add glue in a thin line just inside the hem fold

One of the easiest ways to hem without a sewing machine is by using fabric glue. Fabric glue is a versatile adhesive that can be used for various fabric projects, including hemming. To apply fabric glue for hemming, start by folding the fabric to create the desired hem.

Then, carefully add a thin line of fabric glue just inside the folded hem. Be sure to apply the glue evenly and avoid using too much, as it can seep through the fabric and create a mess.

When choosing a fabric glue, opt for a high-quality, washable adhesive that is specifically designed for fabric. This will ensure a strong bond that will withstand regular wear and washing. Look for fabric glues that dry clear, so they won’t leave any visible marks on your fabric.

Press the hem down and allow the glue to dry

After applying the fabric glue, gently press the hem down to secure it in place. Use your fingers or a small roller to smooth out any wrinkles or bumps in the fabric. Applying pressure will help the fabric adhere to the glue and create a strong bond.

Next, allow the glue to dry completely before handling or wearing the garment. The drying time can vary depending on the type of fabric glue used, so be sure to read the instructions on the glue bottle.

It’s important to give the glue enough time to dry to ensure a durable hem that will withstand everyday use.

Once the glue has dried, you can check the bond by lightly tugging on the hem. If it feels secure and doesn’t come loose, then your hem is ready to go. If you notice any areas that need reinforcement, you can apply a small amount of additional glue and repeat the drying process.

Remember, fabric glue is a great alternative to sewing for quick hemming projects or for those who don’t have access to a sewing machine. However, it may not be as durable as a machine-sewn hem, especially for heavy fabrics or garments that undergo a lot of stress.

In such cases, it’s best to consult a professional tailor or consider investing in a sewing machine for more secure and long-lasting hems.

Using Fusible Web

If you don’t have a sewing machine or simply prefer a no-sew method, using fusible web is a great alternative for hemming your fabric. Fusible web is a thin adhesive material that can be ironed onto fabric to create a bond.

It is commonly used in crafting and can be found in most fabric stores or online.

Iron fusible web onto the wrong side of the hem allowance

The first step in using fusible web for hemming is to cut a strip of fusible web that is slightly shorter than the width of your hem allowance. Place the fusible web strip onto the wrong side of the fabric, aligning it with the edge of the hem allowance.

Then, using a hot iron, press the fusible web onto the fabric according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This will create a bond between the fabric and the fusible web, securing the hem in place.

Fold up the hem and press to fuse in place

Once the fusible web is ironed onto the fabric, fold up the hem to the desired length and press it with the iron. The heat from the iron will activate the adhesive in the fusible web, causing it to bond with the fabric and hold the hem in place.

Make sure to apply firm pressure and hold the iron in place for a few seconds to ensure a strong bond. Allow the fabric to cool before moving or wearing to ensure the bond is fully set.

Using fusible web for hemming is a quick and easy method that requires minimal tools and skills. It is particularly useful for lightweight fabrics or items that won’t undergo heavy wear and tear. However, keep in mind that fusible web may not be as durable as a sewn hem, so it’s best to use it for temporary fixes or projects that don’t require long-lasting results.

For more information on using fusible web and other no-sew hemming methods, you can visit The Spruce Crafts. They provide detailed instructions and tips to help you achieve professional-looking hems without a sewing machine.


With just a needle and thread – or a few handy fusible products – you can easily hem fabric without lugging out the sewing machine. Simply choose the hand sewing or no-sew method that works best for your project and abilities. In no time you’ll have a polished, professional hem ready to show off!

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