How To Sew A LETTUCE HEM – a step-by-step guide with video instructions

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Give your sewing projects a pretty finish with a lettuce hem! This type of curly hem looks cute and attractive and is practical too as it won’t make your project shorter. A great option for when you’re short on fabric.

Lettuce Hem

Image of a striped skirt finished with a lettuce hem

I love how much prettiness a lettuce hem adds to basically any sewing project!  While it’s more popular on little girls clothes, you can also see the adorable lettuce edge hem on women’s clothing too, particularly younger women, in items such as tops, cardigans and even dresses.

This step-by-step guide with video instructions will show you how to sew a lettuce hem without a serger, in no time. It is an extremely simple technique that you’ll love if you’re not familiar with it. Whether you want to experiment or crave a change, sewing a lettuce hem onto one of your clothes is a fun and easy sewing technique. Who said new outfits had to be expensive?

What is lettuce hem?

A lettuce hem is an attractive and fun frilled hem that is applied to items sewn with knit or other stretch fabrics. This type of hem is a cute and quick way to finish off a skirt, dress, pinafore, shorts, sleeves etc. It’s a style of hem that is narrow and pulled up and away from the garment. Sewing lettuce hems adds a little touch of character and uniqueness.

This DIY lettuce hem not only looks pretty but is practical too as it adds no bulk to the hemline since the fabric is not turned up. A lettuce hem is also a good way to finish hemlines without making your project shorter so it’s great if you don’t have a lot of fabric available for your project.

Learning how to sew a lettuce hem is crazy easy, making it one of my most favorite ways to finish hemlines on knit fabrics. I’m lucky that I have a little daughter so I can apply this hem to a lot of projects! This method of sewing a lettuce hem works on knits or stretch fabrics not on woven fabric, silk or any other fabrics that don’t have any stretch in them. For those fabrics there are other methods, like fishing line or a serger.

lettuce edge

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Things to keep in mind before sewing a lettuce hem

Find the direction of the stretch

As you probably noticed, thin knits curl up when you pull the edges and often times, the edge stays rolled up which eases your work a lot. Some knits stretch in one direction (and I find these are the easiest to work with when making a lettuce hem), while others stretch in both directions. To sew a lettuce edge you’ll need to sew with the stretch not against it. The fabric will stretch as you sew and then relax back again, creating that pretty curly finish.

curly hem

Check the direction of the curl

Before proceeding to making a lettuce hem, check which way your fabric curls, towards the right or the wrong side. You want to work with the curl on the top (right side) as you sew. So it’s best if you first make a test on a small piece of knit scraps.

Set your machine up

You’ll also need to set your machine to a small zig-zag stitch that fits the width of the curl. You also need to adjust the stitch length and the thread tension to a small setting that works best for the type of knit you’re using. So first, grab a straight piece of fabric and test, test, test!

Ready to learn how to sew a lettuce hem and get professional-looking results every time? This simple and quick tutorial will walk you through the process of making a lettuce hem on a regular sewing machine. And after you test it once or twice, you’ll be sewing your lettuce hems in no time! Here’s how to make a lettuce edge hem!


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Tutorial for Lettuce edge

how to sew a lettuce edge hem

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How to sew a lettuce hem:

  • Set your sewing machine to a zig zag stitch, a small stitch length and a small tension, as recommended in the video.
  • Stretch the fabric to establish which way it curls, towards the right or wrong side.

  • With the presser foot up, place the fabric under the foot with the curled side on top. Pull the raw edge of the fabric both front and back to form a roll and only then lower the presser foot to catch the roll.
  • As you sew, keep pulling the fabric which will continue curling. Make sure you pull the fabric at the front AND at the back at the same time, trying to keep even pressure on each side.

  • Once you’re done sewing, the fabric will regain its original shape while the lettuce edge hem is longer so it curls up and down in waves.

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Photo collage of lettuce hem on a skirt

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about petro


Hi, I’m Petro, author and founder of Easy Peasy Creative Ideas. Sewist, crafter, avid DIY-er, foodie, photographer, homemaker and mommy to one. I’m an expert at coming up with quick, clever sewing tips, recycling crafts and simple, easy recipes! You can find my ideas featured in reputable publications such as Country Living, Good House Keeping, Yahoo News, WikiHow, Shutterfly, Parade, Brit & Co and more. Thanks for stopping by and hope you’ll stay for a while, get to know me better and come back another time. Stick around for real fun projects! Read more…

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