verb (used with object)

to hem along a line from which threads have been drawn out, stitching the cross threads into a series of little groups.
to simulate hand hemstitching by piercing the material with a large machine needle and then stitching around the perforations.


the stitch used or the needlework done in hemstitching.

Origin of hemstitch

First recorded in 1830–40; hem1 + stitch
Related formshem·stitch·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hemstitch

Historical Examples of hemstitch

  • Do you know that some girls are often confused and call the hemstitch, the hemming stitch?

  • Now that you know the hemstitch, you can use it in many places.

  • You have learned the hemming stitch; now you will try the hemstitch.

  • Both are used at the top of the hem to hold it in place, but often the hemstitch is used in other places, too.

  • See if you can discover the difference between the hemming stitch and the hemstitch?

British Dictionary definitions for hemstitch



a decorative edging stitch, usually for a hem, in which the cross threads are stitched in groups


to decorate (a hem, etc) with hemstitches
Derived Formshemstitcher, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hemstitch

also hem-stitch, 1821, from hem + stitch. As a verb by 1839. Related: Hemstitched; hemstitching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper