How to Sew a Lettuce Edge Hem

Updated July 20, 2017

Sewing a lettuce edge hem on a garment will give it a nice curly effect that is very feminine. This type of hem produces a softly ruffled edge that looks similar to the edges of curly lettuce leaves. The lettuce edge hem is easy to sew and can be done with a regular zigzag stitch on a conventional sewing machine, but it is even easier if it is done with a serger sewing machine. Start off sewing this kind of hem by practicing on an ordinary plain T-shirt, and then go on to other garments that are fancier, such as a blouse or skirt.

Remove the existing hem from the T-shirt or other garment you are practicing on by cutting it off with scissors. Use a thread ripper if you prefer to remove the stitching in the hem by hand rather than just cutting it off. After a hem is removed by hand cut off the excess material to give the garment the original hem length.

Thread your sewing machine with the colour of thread you have chosen. Set the machine to a narrow zigzag stitch and set the differential feed to its lowest setting. Following the user manual, adjust the machine for a rolled hem stitch if you are not using a serger sewing machine.

Lift the needle on your machine by turning the hand wheel towards you. Place your T-shirt or other garment on the machine directly under the presser foot and lower the foot to hold the material in place. Turn the hand wheel again until the needle is inserted into the fabric at the side seam of the garment with the right side of the material facing up.

Grasp the fabric that is in the back of the presser foot with one hand and pull backwards to stretch it. With your other hand pull and stretch the fabric in front of the needle. Begin sewing the zigzag stitch while continuing to stretch the material both ways as you continue zigzagging around the entire edge of the garment.

Zigzag around the edge of the garment twice. Finish off your seam by back stitching a few stitches when you have finally reached the beginning stitches again. Release the material by raising the presser foot and cutting the threads loose.


Embroidery thread in a contrasting colour can be used to give the lettuce edge hem a shiny colourful look.


Sewing too quickly can cause gaps in a lettuce leaf edge hem.

Things You'll Need

  • T-shirt or other garment made from stretchy material
  • Scissors
  • Matching or contrasting thread
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine (preferably a serger)
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About the Author

Located in California, Iris Bryant has been a freelance writer since 2008. She began her writing career by providing online content for a number of affiliate marketers and clients in the health industry. She is a staff writer for an online marketing company and has written various legal guides for Bryant holds an Associate of Arts in social sciences.