If there’s one thing that can elevate your sewing projects, it’s knowing how to sew a mitered corner.
Miters are those spots where two square edges meet at a 45 degree angle. You see them on picture frames! Sometimes you’ll see mitered corners on napkins and tablecloths, but they’re a really easy thing to add to your garments as well. Miters are great on cardigan hems, any kind of square drape like this Burdastyle dress. If it’s square, you can miter it!
The beauty of a good miter is that the hem is less bulky and squashy right at that corner.
And like with most sewing techniques, there’s more than 1 way to stitch a mitered corner. Here are 3 easy ways to sew a mitered corner.
How to stitch a mitered corner by hand
Why start this tutorial situation telling me I should bust out a hand needle? I know, but when you see how the miter is formed, it’ll be easier for the other versions where we have to sew the miter inside out.
Sewing a miter by hand is the most intuitive way, plus it gives you ultimate control. You’re guaranteed a perfect gloriously square miter with this one!
First, press the hem towards the wrong side of the fabric. Usually with miters, you press a double fold hem. In this case, I’m only going to press a single fold.
Single folds can make for less bulk on heavier fabrics or knits like sweater knits or ponte. You can finish the raw edge of the hem with a serger, and you’ll see that later in the pics.
Next fold one side of the hem into a triangle that meets right at the inside corner of the hem. Press it well.
Then trim away the extra fabric about 1/4″ past the fold line. We don’t need that extra bit, and getting rid of it will cut down on a some bulk.
Refold the corner into place.
To finish it off, thread a needle and stitch a few stitches to secure the corner. I like to make tiny running stitches right inside the well of the pressed edge to make the stitches as invisible as possible.
Sew a double-fold mitered corner
This is probably the mitered corner you’ll see the most. It’s wonderful on cardigan front corners or a wrap top like this Donna Karan wrap top. You can use it on knits, and it’s the mitered corner you’ll find on nice linen napkins and tablecloths.
First press up a hem towards the wrong side of your fabric. Press the fabric again towards the wrong side to make a double folded hem. My total hem allowance here is 1″, so my finished fold is 1/2″ wide, but of course you can make it wider than that.
Next, unfold the hem so you just see the first pressed part of the hem. Fold a right triangle at the corner. See how the pressed lines all line up together? That’s what you want! Press that folded corner really well. It’s going to be a stitching line in a second.
Okay, now for the non-intuitive part. Fold the pressed fold back on itself right sides together. Stitch along the pressed line from the pressed edges to the fold. Be sure to backstitch where at the start and beginning of this tiny seam.
Trim close to the stitching line. You can see why a mitered corner ends up being so much flatter of an inside finish. Look at all that fabric nonsense we’re trimming off! No wonder just stitching without a miter gives you a lumpy hem!
Press the seam open. I find it helpful to use a point presser, because you can easily get right up in that corner and steam it open with your iron. If you’ve never used a point presser, it’s a treat for situations just like this. Check it out along with my other favorite helpful sewing tools.
Now you can turn the miter inside out. It’ll look like this: so pretty!!
From there, you can finish the hem with a topstitch close to the pressed inside edge.
The trim-first way to mitered corner glory
If the double fold hem way to sew a mitered corner turns your brain inside out, this one is for you. It’s my go-to way to miter a hem on knits. I used it on this maxi dress refashion.
This is a little simpler because we’ll trim first, making it a little easier to see where you need to sew that miter.
Same setup here, slightly different flavor. Double fold and press your hem to start to form the corner.
After that, unfold all your pressing. Fold a right triangle so that all the pressed lines match up together. Press that fold really well.
Next, trim 1/4″ away from that fold. Fold the trimmed edges right sides together. Stitch from the fold to the next fold line point with a 1/4″ seam allowance, backstitching at the point.
Basically, you want to stitch half the distance from the fold towards the end of that trimmed edge. If you go too far, it’ll be tough to flip the miter to the right side, and you’ll have to clip a thread or two to release the stitching so that the miter sits flat.
After that, press the tiny seam open and turn the corner to the right side. Ahh, so darn crisp!
So those are 3 simple ways to stitch up a mitered corner. Once you practice this technique a couple times, you’ll never want to go back to lumpy hems!
Check out other learn to sew techniques:
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.