How to Remove an Industrial Blind Hem Stitch

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IndustrialBlindHemPerhaps you’ve noticed the stitch used on the hem of your purchased pants before. It’s definitely much different than the blind hem that your home sewing machine makes, but it’s still invisible from the outside and only grasps a few threads. This, my friend, is the industrial blind hem stitch.

The machine that makes this stitch is quite curious looking. It sews only the blind stitch, and uses a long curved needle to hook the fabric. Because the machine makes a chain stitch, there is no need for a bobbin. The fabric is fed into the machine so that it makes a circular motion, while the needle picks up the fabric hem and only a thread or two of the actual pant leg fabric. A monofilament thread is often used in the machine to ensure that the hem is invisible.

blindhemmachine

Often times, the thin threads used with the machine can get snagged on your shoes or simply break while the garment is being cleaned. If you’ve ever snagged this stitch and then mistakenly pulled on the thread to see where it came from, you probably realized you were pulling out your entire hem. Sometimes though, pulling on the hem thread, especially when you want to remove it to shorten your pants, only makes it tighter. It can be hard to see exactly where the thread starts and in which direction to pull it (much like the coverstitch), so let’s look a closer look at the stitch.

*If you would like to see more detail in these photos, click on them to have them pop up in a larger size that is less grainy.*

Like I said earlier, the industrial blind stitch is a chain stitch. You can see the way that the thread loops in and out of itself.

blindhemstitch2

To begin to undo the stitch, you’ll want to look for the area on the hem where the stitch overlaps itself. A small length of thread will likely be hanging off of the end.

blindhemstitch1

I made a quick (very quick) drawing of how a chain stitch works. This should help you understand how the thread tail will need to be removed from the first loop on the stitch in order to be able to pull the thread cleanly from the hem.

blindhemstitch-drawing

Find the tail of the thread on the overlapping stitch area.

blindhemstitch-threadNotice how this thread goes thru the last loop of the chain stitch.

blindhemstitch-loopIf you were to pull this thread, the chain stitch would simply get tighter. If you don’t want the stitch to come undone, pulling this will tighten the stitch to lock it in place.

blindhemstitch-pullBut- we’re removing this stitch. Or rather, I was removing this hem on a pair of smokin’ hot Anthropology pants I got this summer that make my butt look great and decided to take pictures. Whatever. The thread tail will have to be pulled out of the very last loop on the blind hem/chain stitch in order to easily pull out the thread.

blindhemstitch-firstthread

Once the thread tail is pulled out of the eye of the thread loop, give the thread a gentle tug and it will all come undone. Sometimes the thread will snag on the fabric, especially if it’s been washed a few times. If that happens, you can clip into the chain stitch anywhere you want, pull the thread out of the last loop and begin to pull the thread again.

blindhemstitch-remove

blindhemstitch-undone

I don’t own a fancy-schmancy blind hem machine, so I couldn’t put back this exact same hem once I shortened the pants. Because they are made of a very thin rayon, I ended up hand sewing the new hem with a catch stitch. It worked really well and is invisible from the outside, thanks to silk thread and one of the best needles ever.

Have you ever seen this stitch used somewhere other than on a hem of a garment?

  • When I was in high school and taking an interior design class, we visited an interior design business that had a blind stitch machine like that… Actually it was much more ancient and had a giant arm (like an oversized quilting machine) to blind hem drapery. It was the same teacher who I was taking home ec with, so she knew I’d be interested and asked them to demonstrate the machine. The rest of the class could not have cared less, but I thought it wa awesome!!!

    • Haha! I love it! That sounds like something I would have loved, if my high school had ever been cool enough to take that kind of field trip.

      In college, I visited my first apparel manufacturing plant, which featured standing-only sewing machines. They were set up in a circle so that each “team” of workers could sew using a circuit method. As they walked around in the circle, they would use each machine to finish a different part of the leotard they were making. It was fascinating!!

  • anemonejane

    I cannot thank you enough! My mother knows how to do this, but her method involves snipping 2 threads. I never could see which two to snip! I’m long-legged & I brought home a new pair of slacks last night. You really explain this well. And now I have matching thread for the new hem, to boot!

    • You’re so welcome! I know it’s aggravating when you can’t remember which side of the blind hem stitch to pull on. I hope it helps make your pant hemming faster and easier.

  • Pingback: How to Alter a Men’s Shirt, Part 2 / Amy Alan / Really Handmade()

  • sewpoke

    Thank you so much…sometimes I am able to do this and others not. I get lucky I guess because I sure didn’t know how it was done. I am going to try it right away and make sure I really do understand.

    • You’re very welcome! Yes, it’s a tricky little stitch. I was so thankful when a coworker at my alterations job taught me the correct way to unpick this stitch. It makes hemming pants go much more quickly!

  • sewobsessedmama

    Great tutorial and blog. Apparently, you can also use them on knit fabrics. I read somewhere that you can put elastic on necklines (like a deep v) then turn it and blind hem it. I’ve really wanted to try it but keep putting off sewing for myself and instead sew for the kids. I would think that you could also use it to apply bias binding as well. I got my light weight industrial a year ago after attempting to make interlined curtains using my domestic machine – all those layers were just way to much for the blind hem on my home sewing machine to go through. I had to hand sew the corners shut because it doesn’t have a strong enough motor and it couldn’t handle the thickness in the corners (which I knew before I purchased it) but the machine paid for itself in less than one curtain. It only cost me 100$ shipped.

    • Thank you!

      When I worked in alterations, we had a beast of an industrial machine that I loved using. We didn’t use it on knits that often, but when it was necessary, I usually made sure to place that garment in my to-do pile. You’re so lucky to have one!

      • Thanks so much. You are amazing for being a SAHM. It’s the hardest job in the world, usually with no vacation or days off. I agree that “not everything is as it seems”, especially in the online world. Will I be brave enough one day to actually share some struggles that are close to my heart? Maybe. But for right now I am careful to remember that not all is what it seems.

  • Youso’nsew

    Thank you so much for this explicit tutorial! I have to hem pants for my grandmother, now I don’t dread the job!