How to Alter a Top With an Elastic Hem

You’ve seen these blouses everywhere:

ImageThey’ve got elastic running around the bottom edge.

Many women complain that they don’t like how they look when they wear them and pass up the idea of buying them.

Altering them is an easy fix.

Just trim off the elastic close to the edge:


I use sharp small scissors to accomplish this task:


Next, turn the hem up and press if necessary.

I hand baste the hem as well so that the knit doesn’t slip around.

If you have a woven fabric, you should press the hem up as well.


In addition, if you are sewing on a woven cloth, be sure and finish the edge with a serger or a zig zag stitch first.

Next, look for a thread to match:


On this top, I will sew a double row of stitching on the hem.

This means I’ll need two spools of thread.

If I don’t have two spools of matching thread, or they are very close in color, I will wind two bobbins.

One bobbin will be used in the bobbin case and the other bobbin will be used as the second spool of thread.


Then, get yourself a double stretch needle. They look like this:


Put the spool of thread on the first spool pin and a bobbin on the second spool pin.

To thread your machine with two threads, treat them as one thread and thread through until you get to the needle area:


Then, thread one thread through each needle:


Stitch the hem, keeping the right side of the shirt facing up so you can watch to make sure you are doing a good job.

As you can see, if you flip it over, the bottom threads form sort of a zig zag stitch:


As you can see, it doesn’t take long to convert your top and the hem looks great!:



9 Responses

  1. Great idea! Looks much better and I bet it looks nice on you.

  2. Great tutorial – thanks!

  3. You do nice tutorials, Linda.
    I sometimes use wooly nylon in the bobbin, only because some of my ladies buy more fitted t-shirts and they like even more stretch in the hem.
    Thanks for taking extra time to share this with everyone.

  4. You are a sewing hero! Thanks so much! Perhaps we need to make you a cape!

  5. Does the double-thread hemming technique work with any straight-stitch machine? If so, that’s fantastic! Is there any special approach to keeping the stretch? I see Judy uses “wooly nylon.” I’ve never heard of it.

    • Yes, it should work on any machine. I have not used the wooly thread, but it sounds like a great idea! Thanks for your kind comments.

    • You just have to be sure your machine and throat plate will accept the twin needles which are available with different distance between the needles,

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