Italian Hemstitch

I love little tricks in weaving, especially if they help me to avoid tying knots for fringe. I don’t know, but I would much rather take the time weaving in ends and perfecting the surface of the cloth, not tying knots.

The Italian Hemstitch is one of the solutions that I have learned to create a beautiful hem without worrying about the fabric unravelling and also avoiding tying knots.

Here is how to do it!


Before you start you want to figure out what kind of shape you would like the final “knot” to have. Each portion of the “knots” are made up of the warp threads that are tightened together and the weft threads that are pulled closer. Depending on the sett of your yarn, four warp threads and four weft threads do not always make a square “knot”. This is an easy enough stitch that if you don’t like how it looks, you can unstitch it and try again.

When you weave your header, leave a tail of yarn that is three times the width of your warp. This tail is what you will be using to stitch the hemstitch with.


I like to think of this stitch as creating an X on the back of the fabric. So the first step is to take your threaded tapestry needle and go from the bottom right corner of your X to the upper left corner. You will take the needle under your warp and weft threads in the amount that you decided, and your needle should end up on the face of your fabric. In this particular weaving I went over four warp threads and up two weft threads.


You will then make the second leg of your X. You will now go over the same warp threads that you just went under. The needle will go from the upper right corner to the bottom left. This thread will tighten/cinch the warp threads at the top of your “knot”.


Then to put the end cap on your “knot”! The needle will now go under your warp threads from the right side and through the loop that you are creating on the left side. I also like to visualize that I am going over the remaining tail of the hemstitch thread.


I then tighten this loop and I have created a sturdy little “knot”.

These are not actually knots, but it creates a lacy looking effect at the bottom of the fabric. One of my favorite variations of this is to have multiple rows of the hemstitch going up the fabric. This is a simple way of creating an elegant finish to your woven fabric.

Did you like this tutorial? Would you like to see more? Leave me a comment about what you would like to see a step by step tutorial of. And if I know how to do it, I will show it! And if I don’t I will learn it for you!


8 thoughts on “Italian Hemstitch

  1. Do you do the hemstitching while on the loom or can you do this after the piece is off the loom? I am doing a series of towels and would like to do this hemstitch on each one. If I can do it after the piece is off the loom should I make a header for each towel so my threads don’t unravel? I am just getting ready to start weaving, so if this is easier to do while still on the loom then I will just do that.


    1. This type of hemstitch is done while the weaving is on the loom. Once it is off the loom it is difficult to make the stitches nice and tight. The only time I do a treatment off the loom is when I am weaving quick samples and I run it through my sewing machine.

      To finish the stitch what I do is make a slip knot (go once around the final group of threads and bring the needle back through that loop). Once the slip knot is tightened I weave the tail up the edge of the piece for 1/2″ to 1″ depending on the type of yarn.

      When you are done with your towels I would love to see them! They sound lovely, especially with this type of stitch at the end.

  2. Thank you so much Tegan! These are such clear pictures and your description of the process is very helpful. There’s a YouTube vid but the demonstrator’s fingers get in the way at crucial moments. Bookmarking this page so when I start my next project I’ll have the right instructions…every time I have tried it in the past I do it a different way from the time before, and then there is the issue of how the header part will be the opposite of the end of the piece. You have a gift for explaining the complexities of weaving.

    1. Thank you so much Catherine! I think I must have watched the same video at one point because I had to sit and really think it out after watching it. I look forward to doing other step by steps for different hemstitches and fringe finishes as my weaving progresses. And be sure to let me know if anything I write is too confusing! -Tegan

  3. Dear Tegan,
    Thank you for showing how to make this Italian hemstitch. I am a new weaver and have been weaving for about 4 months now. Since then I have not been able to stop weaving due to the incredible joy and satisfaction that is brings to my spirit and senses. A couple of weeks ago when doing a search for different types of hemstitching I came across your website with this Italian hemstitch. I tried it and I am extremely grateful for your easy and very concise explanations of how to do it. It is by far the most elegant and (and very strong in holding together the warp and weft pics) it balances out the weaving no matter what the pattern or design is. Marvelous! And thank you again. I am sending you a picture of one of my placemats that I just finished with the Italian hemstitch. KUDOS to you.

    1. Thank you so much, Jaime! It is my favorite hemstitch- also to add some extra elegance i will do two or more rows of the hemstitch. This is to create an elaborate hem on something elegant like a shawl. I can’t wait to see your placemats- I am sure it looks phenomenal!

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