How to Avoid Hem Edges That Crease and Curl on Clothes

curled edges on a shirt

The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

Curling and bad creases can happen to good hems on bedsheets, tablecloths, kitchen linens, shirts, and blouses. The curling gives an unkempt look to shirttails. Often, the creases are deep and difficult to remove even when ironing and leave visible wear lines on the fabric.

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

How to Avoid Curled and Creased Edges on Clothes and Linens

  1. If the cause of the puckering at the hem is the thread used in hemming, the only solution is to remove the thread and re-hem 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 lower the final 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 over drying that can cause shrinkage that leads to curling.
  4. Skip the dryer completely 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.
use a cooler water setting to avoid hem curling

The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

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.

Straighten the Curl

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.

using an iron to eliminate clothing curls and creases

The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

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 is unfortunately difficult to change once you've discovered the problem. The other reason could be your fault and is very simple to change.

Improper Construction of the Garment

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. One hundred percent cotton thread is going to react differently than a polyester-cotton blend or a polyester piece of fabric when subjected to the rigors of washing and drying. You may be able to solve the curling issue if you re-hem the garment or table linen with the proper type of thread that matches the fiber content of the fabric.

Improper Washing and Drying of the Fabric

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 the hem. You can solve this issue by changing your laundry habits.