|Hems / Hem Sewing Definition : Definitions for the Clothing & Textile Industry|
To hem a piece of cloth, the cut edges are folded up, folded up again, and then sewed down. The cut edges are thus completely enclosed in cloth, so that they can't ravel.
A hem is also the edge of the cloth treated in this manner.
The hem may be sewn down with a line of invisible hem-stitch or blind-stitch or sewn down by a sewing machine, usually leaving a visible line of sewing. Modern sewing machines can make many decorative or functional stitches, so the number of possible hem treatments is large. Machines can also sew a reasonable facsimile of a hem-stitch, though the stitches will usually be larger and more visible. Most haute couture hems are sewn by hand for this reason.
Heavy material with deep hems may be hemmed with what is called a dress-maker's hem -- an extra line of loose running stitch is added in the middle of the hem, so that all the weight of the cloth does not hang from one line of stitching.
The term hem is also extended to other cloth treatments that prevent raveling. Hems can be serged (see serger), hand rolled and then sewn down with tiny stitches (still seen as a high-class finish to handkerchiefs), pinked with pinking shears, piped (see piping), covered with binding, and many other inventive treatments.