Finishing curved edges

January 04, 2018

Finishing curved edges

If you’ve ever had to hem a curved edge, you’ll know how tricky it is to turn, press and stitch it so that it looks neat and tidy. Curved edges are tricky for a few reasons. They involve a bias grainline, which causes the fabric to stretch out. Also, depending on the kind of curve you are working with, whether it be concave or convex, the fabric edge will be longer or shorter in length compared to the area it is being folded to, indicated by the red dashed line in the following diagram...


Concave and convex curve examples

In the instance of a concave curve where the fabric edge is shorter than the area it is folded to, the bias grainline will stretch, allowing you to manipulate the fabric. If it is a severe concave curve, you can clip the seam allowance to prevent puckering.

In the instance of a convex curve, the length of the fabric edge is longer than the area it is folding to, so you have to manipulate the fabric to make the lengths equal.

Here’s a tutorial for finishing curved edges.


Single Fold Hem

(I recommend that you finish the edge with a serge or zig-zag before starting. This demo is left unfinished so that you could see the stitches more clearly)



Basted edge of curved hemline

Sew a baste stitch 1/8” from the fabric edge, leaving a few inches of thread at one end.


    Examples of stitches on curved edge

Sew a second row of stitching at the intended seam allowance for the hem.


Gathering the curved edge

Pull on one of the thread tails from the stitch closest to the edge, drawing the fabric just enough so that the folded edge lays flat onto the fabric.


 Ironing the curved edge


    pressed curved edge, ready for hemming

Distribute the gathers evenly and press.

  Turn the fabric towards the wrong side, pressing along the second stitch line. This stitch acts as a folding guide and helps in achieving a crisp and even fold.


The topstitched curved hem

  Topstitch the hem within the seam allowance.


Double Fold Hem

    Stitch lines for double turned curved hem

    Sew a basting stitch ¼” away from the fabric edge. Sew a second-row ½” away from the fabric edge.


Ironing the first fold of the double turn hem

 Turning the fabric towards the wrong side, press along the first ¼” stitch line.


first press of double turn hem

This helps to create an even crisp line to fold along the stitch.


Pressing the second fold for the double fold hemSecond fold of double fold hem

Press again along the ½” stitch line

Press again along the ½” stitch line.


 finished double turned curved hem

Topstitch along the hem within the seam allowance.  Feel free to remove the stitching along the folded edge after the hem is complete.




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