Serging hems

I have been reading some old posts about serging. I recently bought a serger and I use a three thread rolled stitch to finish my tea towels and napkins. I like the look and reduced bulk of a serged  hem as opposed to a folded and sewn hem; however, after reading some of the posts on the subject, I get the feeling that serging is not an “ appropriate“ finish for handwoven material.  I am new to weaving and would like to hear from some of the more experienced weavers on this subject.


Posted on Mon, 04/09/2018 - 20:49

I think what people were talking about is making the kind of serged edge you see on sweatshirts.  Could you post a picture of one of your hems?  I hem dozens of towels, and if I could do a rolled hem on a serger, I'd jump on it.

Posted on Tue, 04/10/2018 - 03:23

rolled 3 thread hem

Here is a hemp towel with a 3 thread rolled hem done on an inexpensive (under $200) Brother serger.  I am not very good at folded hems so I like the serger.

Posted on Tue, 04/10/2018 - 14:58

I think that intended use of the handwoven, if you are selling versus giving, and the type of yarns used (color, weight, etc), are all factors.  I'm lucky that my wife handles all of my finishing.  For fancy towels, runners, I usually plan for a folded hem.  Using a thinner warp thread at the edge to reduce thickness.  Occasionally serging the edge to lock it down, sometimes just two runs of plain machine stitching to be able to cut between them.  Then folding under and either machine stitching or blind-stitching to finish.  Personally, if I were going to sell something, I would not use a serged finish.  People see it and automatically think that the article was not handwoven because of the "industrial" look.  But neither am I producing large numbers of items. So I have a different perspective.

Posted on Tue, 04/10/2018 - 18:46

Here's another pic of the rolled hem on some linen napkins that has a better contrast.

Posted on Tue, 04/10/2018 - 20:53

I would be worried about rolled hem holding to a lot of washing. Please, let us know how it is doing after a few washes.

Posted on Wed, 04/11/2018 - 12:00

Thanks for the feedback.  I’m curious about how well the rolled hems will hold up too.  I suppose I need to learn how to sew folded hems.  I appreciate the tip about using thinner warp threads on the edges, as the one thing I don’t like about folded hems are the fat corners. When machine sewing folded hems, do most people use straight or zig-zag stitch?

Posted on Wed, 04/11/2018 - 12:39

  This is one of te towels I made for my husband to give to his favorite brew pub.  Their logo is embroidered on the hem.  I start by pressing the hem thouroughly, with a lot of steam.  I turn the corners in so they are caught by the stitching and don't stick out.  I use a straight stitch.  Unfortunately, the edge of the towel was cut off in the upload.

Posted on Sat, 04/14/2018 - 03:45

I'm wondering if Big White Sofa Dog's image could be bigger.  It looks quite sensitively done and personally, I think the serged edges on Norgard's nice weavings feel a bit heavy.  How textiles get finished can add such a lovely detail to the woven structure.

Posted on Sat, 04/14/2018 - 15:19

Better image og Gravel Bottom towel.

This is the largest image I was able to add.  It is a better image.  I had added a new camera to my phone, but noticed that it was giving me fuzzy pictures.

Posted on Sat, 04/14/2018 - 15:59


Thanks. I have a question.  When you were weaving the hem, did you change from the twill to tabby, or just change the weft color.  When you changed color, did you also change the gauge of your weft?  OK, that was actually 2 questions.

Posted on Sat, 04/14/2018 - 16:48

I generally make twill towels and do the hems in the same warp in basketweave.  These were done in white 8/2, same weight as the twill, in tabby, to give a better fabric for embroidery.  If the towel body is a tabby-based weave, like huck, I make the hems tabby. 

When I added these photos, I got a message that the photo was being reduced to 600x600 pixels as it inserted it.  How do you insert these large images?

Posted on Sat, 04/14/2018 - 17:58

I'm not sure about the size of the images, I just followed the instruuctions in the FAQ section about inserting images in your postings. I got the same message about the image size being reduced, but they still came up in the larger format.  ??

Posted on Sun, 04/15/2018 - 03:59

Ah, I see you figured it out  Very nice!  Thanks for taking the time to post this.

Posted on Sun, 04/15/2018 - 06:50

Now we can see it properly.  Much nicer than a serged edge in my opinion.

Posted on Sun, 04/15/2018 - 11:43


You said that when weaving a twill, you switch to basket weave for the hem.  My hand weaving pattern directory does not have a basket weave pattern listed.  Can you explain how this pattern works?

Posted on Sun, 04/15/2018 - 15:58

I've seen it called canvas weave also.  1,2, 5,6 on tabby treadle a; 3,4, 7,8 on tabby treadle b.  This weave gives a hem that is the same width as the twill towel, unlike tabby, which is wider.  It isn't really a true basket because the warp is tabby, or as close to tabby as the threading will allow, but the weft is basket.  Some people use tabby and switch to a finer weft to avoid having the hem wider.  Being lazy, trying to keep production costs down, and the fact that I make a lot of these, makes basket weave with the same weft a better option.

Posted on Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:35

I'm on 4 shafts, and my twill tieup is: treadle 1) 1&2  2) 2&3  3) 3&4 and 4) 4&1, so I gather my treadling for basket weave would be simply 1)1&2  then 3)3&4 ?  I have 10 treadles, so I can tie up additional combinations if I need to?

Posted on Sun, 04/15/2018 - 18:48

Isn't basket weave 2 rows of weft adjacent to each other?  This is done by weaving 2 shots without changing the shed, but catching the selvedge?  So it's 2 wefts passing under 2 warps? 

Posted on Sun, 04/15/2018 - 23:47

Yes, a true basketweave has two warps and two wefts in the same shed (a two by two plain weave).  If you read what I wrote, I said it's not a true basket weave.  It's what works for me.