It All Comes Down to the Finish: Hemstitch, Mitered or Simple Hem

August 20, 2014

Looking for linen but not sure between the finishing choices?   Here's a quick run-down on the differences between simple hem, hemstitch and mitered hems.  


Hemstitching dates back to the late 1800's.    It is a drawn thread technique that pulls parallel threads out of the fabric near the hem and then stitches the remaining threads together to create a decorative finish. With it's long history, it's often used on traditional items like linen nighties, the edge of a pillow case or table linen, for a very pretty effect.   Here's a sample of a hemstitched linen.



Mitered hem linens have a diagonal seam at each corner which eliminates the bulk created when two adjoining hems overlap.  The mitered corner provides a crisp, clean edge, perfect for table linens.   Mitered hems are commonly used for more formal linens.   Here's an example of the beautiful Vence tablecloth from Libeco, with a 5.9"  hem and a mitered corner.  

Vence Tablecloth, choice of five colors


As luxurious as the deep hem is on the Vence (above), it's obviously not practical on a napkin.  There are times you need a tiny hem and occasions where simplicity is the best. For this, the informal simple hem is perfect.   At our house, we've been moving away from paper napkins in favor of reusable cloth.  The initial expenditure is higher but of course they can be used over and over again for years.  The trick is to have enough and that's where simple hem napkins come in. Without expensive detailing, simple hem napkins are easy on the pocket book.  We have a large basket filled with them in a variety of colors.   After a meal, we throw them in the laundry tub and wait until we have enough for a wash load.  To do this gives me the same kind of pleasure as when I hang laundry on the line.   Here's an example of our simple hem linens.



Whatever the occasion, there's a finish to suit.