Basic Skills | Mitered Handkerchief Hem

The knowledge of certain basic sewing skills is all it takes to open up a world of possibilities. This skill in particular, a mitered handkerchief hem, has a million applications once mastered and will start you on your way to making tablecloths, napkins, blankets, and even bed sheets if you felt so inclined. So let’s jump right in and hem some stuff!

First you’ll need to cut your fabric. If you’re making a tablecloth, handkerchief, or anything else that’s one layer of thin fabric you’ll want to do a 1/4″ hem. On the other hand, if you’re doing something with thicker fabric like, say, a blanket, you’ll need a wider hem, closer to 1″ or larger. Measure the amount of fabric you need for your project and then add double the hem width all the way around. For this project we want a 1/4″ hem so we’ll add 1/2″ all the way around.

On one side of the fabric, fold the edge down 1/4″ towards the back and press flat with an iron. Next, fold that same side down another 1/4″ and press. Repeat this on the remaining 3 sides. Pin the hems down but leave the corners open.

The corners have to be trimmed to reduce bulk and you’ll do this by using the creases as guides. Notice the point of the corner has one box pressed into it, then there are 2 boxes, and down from there are 3 boxes. Cut across the 3 boxes. Repeat this on the remaining 3 corners.

Fold the edge that was just cut down 1/4″ and press flat. You want to use the iron just enough to crease the fabric but not so much that the other lines are pressed out.

Fold the sides on the original creases and pin the corner into place. Everything should match up perfectly but sometimes it requires a bit of finesse to get things settled into place.

Top stitch the hem down, give it one final press, and you’re all set! Perfectly impressive mitered corners!

I’ve also whipped up an illustration to help you out if the photo’s just aren’t cutting it.

Enjoy and have fun!

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February 11, 2017 - 6:08 AM

Maureen Hughes - Thank you very much for this. Just what I was looking for. Easily understood and I particularly liked your illustration which I have screen shot for reference. Will be doing this today.

March 13, 2017 - 10:33 PM

Karen - Thank you for your clear instructions! I want to make some hankies!
Very helpful!

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