How To Sew a Simple Vented Hem

Tutorial: Turn & Topstitch an Easy Vented (Split) Hem

How To Sew a Simple Vented Hem


While working on the pattern for this romper, I looked online for various vented hem or split hem tutorials.  I found a couple, but I was surprised that there were not more.  There are several ways to create a vented hem, including using a hem facing, a kind of funnel-hem dealie (hard to explain) or leaving tabs hanging off at the vent to fold in.  I personally find this to be simpler while still creating a very finished look.

This all came about because I decided independently of the vent that I wanted to use a turned and topstitched seam finish on the side seams for the romper.  I discovered that this naturally allowed me to develop the vents seamlessly.

I’m using a small piece of scrap fabric for this tutorial, with contrasting orange thread, to make the photographs as clear as possible.

I. Sew the Main Seam

  1. Press and prepare your fabric as you normally would.  Make sure you are planning for a 5/8″ seam allowance, which may be wider than you are used to. Here you can just see my split sample.
  2. Start sewing with the 5/8″ seam allowance.
  3. Stop sewing at the top of the vent.  Here I have planned for a 2″ long vent using a 1″ seam allowance for the hem.  I have used a pink marker to mark the fabric at the top of the vent for purposes of this tutorial.
Steps 1 - 3
Sewing down to the vent with a 5/8″ seam allowance

II. Turn & Press

  1. On each side of the seam, and all the way down the vent, fold the seam allowance under itself and press down.
  2. If you like, or if you’re using a tricky fabric, you can use double-sided basting tape (such as Stitch Witchery or Steam-A-Seam) to hold this down until you can sew it.
Turn and press seam allowances
Fold the seam allowances under and press, hard, with lots of steam so you get terrible photos

III. Topstitch and press hem

  1. Topstitch your pressed hems all the way from top to bottom, including your vent.
  2. Press your hem seam allowance up; serge if you’re planning to do so, or fold and press.
Topstitch and Press Hem
Topstitch all the way down the seam and the vent on both sides. Press your hem allowance up.

IV. Hem and Bar Tack

  1. Sew your hem. I usually cut the folded-in corner off to reduce bulk and to prevent it from sticking out – it looks better that way.
  2. Sew a bar tack about a half-inch long or so up from the start of the vent. I got distracted in the middle of mine and wound up with a big bump in the satin stitching.

If you’ve never done a bar tack before – it’s very simple.  Set your stitch type to zig zag.  Set your stitch length to close to 0 for a satin stitch, and your stitch width somewhere around 3 or 4mm.  Test it out on a scrap first to make sure you’re happy with your settings, then sew up and back once to form your bar tack.

Hem and Bar Tack
Sew your hem up and finish with a bar tack

V. You’re Done!

That’s it! You’ve now got a lovely vented hem. You can use this at the ankle of pants or at the hip of a shirt, and both the topstitching and the vent look very cool.

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