Tutorials & How-To's

Create the perfect Folded Picot Hems

My latest design (more on that very soon) features a pretty folded picot hem. I’m a big fan of folded hems and use them a lot in my designs. I think they are a great finish for garments, they look pretty and stylish and suit kids and adult garments alike.

It has prompted me to write a blog dedicated to different types of folded (also known as self-facing) hems. let’s begin with the most popular, and the one which features in my latest pattern: the folded picot hem: (the following instructions refer to working in the round, adaptations for working flat can be found at the bottom of the blog)

The Folded Picot Hem

mbt-picot-hem-02
The Folded Picot Hem in Progress

Also sometimes called a “cat’s teeth hem” or if you’re very fancy, you may know it by the French translation “dents de chat”. It gives a very pretty finish which retains a good amount of stretch and is very easy to create on pretty much any garment.

mbt-picot-hem-01
The Completed Folded Picot Hem

On adult wear in particular I like my faced hems to be at least 1″ deep. On my latest design, which had a row gauge of 8 rows to the inch, the hem was 10 rows (1 1/4″) deep. To make it, you cast on an even number of stitches on needles 1 size smaller than your project calls for, join in the round and knit 10 rounds. Then you work the picot round (or turning round) which is simply (YO, K2tog) all around. Then you change to the needles for the main body and knit 10 rounds. The facing being that tiny bit smaller than the outside of the hem means the hem won’t flare out and will sit neatly.

Then you have two choices. I prefer to fold the hem into place (wrong sides touching) and knit together the corresponding stitch from the cast-on row with each of the working stitches all around. It’s very important that you line up the stitches bang-on or your hem will be twisted, will never sit straight and will annoy the hell out of you! If this sounds like too much of a headache for you, then you can simply carry on knitting your garment and slip stitch the hem into place when you have completed your garment.

Some people do a provisional cast-on to make this process easier but I’ve never had a problem with picking up the stitches from a normal cast-on edge.

If you don’t have the smaller needle size and don’t want to invest in new needles just to work this little hem then an alternative is to simply knit the facing in the same size needle as you’re using for the body but knit the facing 1 row shorter than the hem. In this example that would mean knitting 9 rounds before the turning round and 10 after. This will help to alleviate some flaring.

Variation on the Folded Hem

folded hem purl row
A Folded Hem with a “Purl” row as the turning row

If you like the idea of a folded or faced hem but the picot edge is just a bit too fancy for you (or you’d like to add a folded hem to a men’s garment) then instead of working the (YO, K2tog) on the turning round, simply  Purl one round instead. This gives a nice neat turning round.

Another fun variation, which is great for children’s clothes is to create what I call a Bobble hem – working bobbles at even intervals along the turning round as follows:

Baby Amelie Cardi - Back View
The Bobble Hem as featured on my Baby Amelie Cardi pattern

How to make a Bobble: Knit into St 5 times (Kfbfbf) – 1 St has been made into 5 Sts on your RH needle. Turn work so that WS is facing you and P across the 5 Sts. Turn work again so that RS is facing you and K across the 5 Sts. One by one, slip the 4 Sts over  the St nearest the tip of the RH needle. You are left with 1 St on your RH needle.  A clear video tutorial of this technique can be found here

Folded hems worked Flat

For a folded picot hem worked flat, you will need to cast on an odd number of stitches. Starting with a Knit row, work an even number of rows before the turning row. For the turning row: K1 (YO, K2tog) to end. Then beginning with a Purl row, work 1 row more than you did before the turning row and then you should have the right side facing you for the turn-up row where you knit together each working stitch with the corresponding stitch from the cast-on row.

All of these instructions are for garments knit from the hem up- if you want to add a folded hem to a top-down garment then simply reverse the instructions!

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