Hemstitching is a form of Drawn Work and as such it can only be employed upon fabrics having threads that can be readily drawn. Linen, with a round, smooth thread and as free from dressing can be obtained, will produce the most satisfactory work. If it should happen that the linen is not very soft and of only ordinary grade, the drawing of the threads may be facilitated by pressing the linen between two wet cloths and then allowing it to dry while under tension.

The material chosen, the next important step is the drawing of the threads, and where they should be drawn must be determined by the size and shape of the space to be enclosed within the hemstitching and by the width of the hem outside the stitching. Sometimes these distances are found by counting the threads, but the better plan is to take actual measurements. As a rule, it is sufficient to draw from two to four threads for single hemstitching, according to the coarseness of the fabric. In drawing the threads, always allow twice the width of the hem wanted, from the edge. The ordinary method of drawing the threads is from side to side, leaving a block of the material at each corner as may be seen in the illustration below, which shows a rectangular piece of linen after the threads have been drawn.

Click on picture to see more detail.

The linen is now in such shape that the hem can be prepared in the ordinary manner. The fabric outside the drawn work is folded and basted smoothly down, with its turned-under edge even wit the upper edge of the drawn space. A frame is not really needed for this type of work.

In hemstitch, the working thread should be so fine that when the work is completed, the stitches will be almost invisible. Linen thread is used, but cotton thread is generally preferred to linen, in some size finer than would be used in sewing the fabric. The work is held as most convenient for the worker. The following illustration should be frequently consulted in order to understand the directions which follow for simple hemstitching.


Insert the needle into the edge of the fold, throw the thread to the left, take up a cluster of threads, pull them together, insert the needle into the edge of the fold, and repeat. The number of threads in a cluster must be determined by the quality of the material; the finer this is, the greater number of threads can be taken, and the reverse with the coarser. This stitch may be used without making a hem, by simply catching the thread into the body of the cloth, and often where the mesh is very loose and open, as in scrim, a large needle is used without drawing any threads, the effect will be a hemstitch just the same.

The method of drawn work just described is the one which is most commonly employed. There is another method, sometimes called the Knot Stitch, which deserves mention. The hem is prepared in the usual manner and after each stitch is made, the needle is passed up under the edge of the hem as seen in the illustration below; then the next Knot Stitch is made, and these details are repeated until the end of the hem is reach.

Hemstitching using Knot Stitch

The above described embroidery is only an introduction to the great subject of Drawn Work, which opens up a field for fancy border designs which is simply unlimited.

Return to top of Hemstitching page.

Return to Embroidery Stitches page.

Return to Home page.

The Last and Best Book of Art Needlework
The Last and Best of Art Needlework, 1895
Over 100 pages of authentic Victorian instructions and patterns from 1895!

Beeton's Book Of Needlework
433 pages!

Sign up for VEAC! Everything you wanted to know about Victorian embroidery, needlework, crafts and more!

Your E-mail Address
Your First Name

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you VEAC.

Priscilla Bead Work Book
Priscilla's Bead Work Book, 1912
Make Beautiful Victorian Beaded Purses, Jewelry & Accessories - Starting TODAY!

Site Build It!