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What is Hemming Tape?

By S. Gonzales
Updated: May 16, 2024

Hemming tape is a kind of heat-activated adhesive tape that allows garment wearers or sewers to create a temporary, new hem. Hemming with hem tape can be achieved with little difficulty, and it allows for frequent modifications to be made because the tape is removable. It can be easily purchased in many department stores or craft stores, or it can be ordered as a specialty sewing item, if necessary.

Usually, hemming tape is used as as a temporary or on-the-go hemming. It can be utilized to shorten the length of a garment without cutting or stitching. Instead, hemming tape relies on its adhesive properties to make garment modifications. The tape's adhesive is activated and adheres against clothing when it is ironed onto the fabric.

The advantages of using hemming tape are numerous. With hem tape, clothing wearers can create temporary hems and wear their garments to determine if the changes are suitable before making them permanent. It also can be used by women who like to make adjustments to garments depending on the types of shoes that they wear. For example, hemming tape can shorten the length of pants so that women can use flat shoes. The tape might also be used as a temporary fix for permanent hems that have disintegrated.

The type of hemming tape purchased will largely depend on the type of fabric that the user wants to hem. Thick tape can be purchased by those who wish to hem heavy fabrics, such as wool, denim, suede and corduroy. Thinner versions can be bought by those who desire to hem regular fabrics, such as cotton, acrylic and rayon. It's important to select the right type of hem tape for the fabric.

Specific steps necessary to complete a hem with tape will vary between manufacturers. Generally, however, those who want to use hem tape should first launder their clothes without using fabric softener. Then, users will have to turn the piece of clothing inside-out and measure, mark and pin the garment as if they were stitching a hem. A piece of adhesive tape should then be cut and affixed to the inside of the hem to reflect the desired length of the garment. The hem tape will then have to be pressed onto the fabric using an iron on a safe setting for a few seconds, followed by a running of the iron over the hem tape.

Hemming tape's adhesive is specially designed so that it doesn't leave behind unwanted residue and doesn't compromise the fabric on which it is applied. The adhesive usually is strong enough to last for days without having to change or reapply the tape. However, any tape on clothing should be removed before garments are washed, dried or ironed.

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Discussion Comments
By Rotergirl — On Aug 26, 2014

I've actually used duct tape as an emergency method to hem jeans. My husband's jeans were way too long and I needed to get them shortened. I grabbed some duct tape and in about 10 minutes, I had those jeans hemmed!

Regular hemming tape is easy, though. I haven't had to use it too often, but when I have, it has worked very well. I was pleased with the way it held the hems in place. It's good for emergency fixes, too, like if you walk on the hem of a pair of slacks and need to tack the fabric up in a hurry. It can also be good when you're making a garment, to get the hem right before sewing it, since it's less time consuming than basting.

By Pippinwhite — On Aug 25, 2014

Another kind of hemming tape looks like lace and is not adhesive. People often use it to hem skirts because it is flexible. The skirt is hemmed with a top and bottom stitch at the top and bottom of the tape. The tape lies flat against the hem and the hem is not buckled or wrinkled on the outside.

I've used it, and it's not difficult to use. I like the look of it when hemming a skirt or dress, since I don't have a serger to do an overlock stitch.

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