What Causes Hem Edges to Crease and Curl?

The wrinkled hem of a bedsheet
MML

Bad creases can happen to good hems on bed sheets, tablecloths and kitchen linens, shirts, and blouses. Often the creases are deep and difficult to remove even with ironing and leave visible wear lines on the fabric.

But what causes hems to curl and crease and how can you avoid the problem?

Why Fabric Hems Curl and Crease on Clothes and Linens

There are two reasons why hems curl and crease. One reason is not your fault and, unfortunately, is difficult to change once you've discovered the problem. The other reason could be your fault and is very simple to change.

Reason Number One: Curling and creasing can occur if the fabric of the clothing or linen is not hemmed following the straight grain of the fabric. If the garment or piece of fabric is not cut out following the grain of the weave or the hem is crooked, the hem can become misshapen during washing. This is very difficult, if not impossible, to correct.

Curling can also happen if the type of thread used in hemming is a different fiber content than the fabric of the garment. Cotton thread is going to react differently than a poly-cotton or polyester piece of fabric when subjected to the rigors of washing and drying. You may be able to solve the curling issue if you rehem the garment or linen with the proper type of thread.

Reason Number Two: The fabric is washed or dried at a too high temperature. Using excessively high heat to wash and dry natural fabrics like cotton, linen, rayon, or bamboo can cause the creases to occur. High heat can also cause man-made fabrics like polyester, Orlon, and nylon to curl up or under at hems. This is the one you can solve by changing your laundry habits.

How to Avoid Curled and Creased Edges on Clothes and Linens

  1. If you feel the cause of the puckering at the hem is the thread used in hemming, the only solution is to remove the thread and rehem the garment or sheet using a mercerized cotton (treated to prevent shrinkage) or poly/cotton thread.
  2. Use lower water temperatures when washing garments and always follow the manufacturer's care label instruction. Do not overload a washer to give clothes room during the wash cycle and reduce the spin speed to reduce wear on the fabrics.
  3. Use lower heat settings—like permanent press—on automatic dryers. Do not allow the fabrics to dry completely. Remove clothes while still slightly damp to avoid overdrying.
  4. Skip the dryer and allow laundry to air dry. When hanging clothes to dry, gently tug the fabrics to create a smooth finish and hang appropriately, so more wrinkling does not occur.

How to Correct Curled and Creased Hems on Clothes and Linens

The best way to get rid of the creases on clothes and linens once they have happened is to use an iron on the proper setting. Until you correct the problem or change your laundry habits, the creases will reappear after every washing.

If you don't have time to get out the ironing board to press the hems but have a ceramic hair straightening iron handy, you can use it to smooth the edges of the fabric. Slip the wrinkled hem between the tongs of the tool and evenly slide the fabric through. Move slowly but don't allow the fabric to stay between the tongs for too long or scorching can occur. This will work best for cotton or cotton blend fabrics.