Lettuce hem

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A knit shawl featuring a lettuce hem.

A lettuce hem is a frilled hem invented by Stephen Burrows. The hem was popular in the disco era for how it added movement to a garment.[1]


The lettuce hem is named for its resemblance to a lettuce leaf. The hem gets its characteristic waves from a zig-zag overlock stitching pattern typical of Burrows' work, which emphasized rather than concealed hems and stitching.[2] The technique is mostly used on knit textiles such as jersey fabric, which allow the hem to hold its shape.[3]


Stephen Burrows invented the lettuce hem in the 1970s.[1] The nature of the invention is disputed, with The Museum at FIT characterizing the invention as arising from a sewing error while the FIDM Museum claims he was inspired by Diana Vreeland requesting a garment in "lettuce green."[4][5] Regardless, the hem became a signature of Burrows and remained popular throughout the decade. The style reemerged in the 1990s, particularly on knit "babydoll" style T-shirts. Lettuce hems became popular again in the late 2010s and early 2020s, largely as a reference to the 1990s iteration of the trend.[2][6][7][8] With the increased interest in upcycling old and thrifted clothing during this period, the lettuce hem became a way to update a garment. The patchwork top, which features lettuce hems all across the garment rather than just along the edges, enjoyed popularity starting in 2020.[9][10]


  1. ^ a b Long, Monique. "Stephen Burrows: Clothes that Danced". Studio Museum Harlem. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  2. ^ a b Lawrence, Jonquil. "A Brief History of Trends that Originated from Black Communities". Bricks Magazine. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  3. ^ "Fashion A-Z". Business of Fashion. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  4. ^ "Facebook post from Museum at FIT".
  5. ^ "Stephen Burrows". FIDM Museum Blog.
  6. ^ Clark, Kelsey. "The Only T-Shirt Trends That Matter in 2020, According to Fashion Girls". Yahoo. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  7. ^ Cassano, Maria. "46 Comfy Pieces That Make You Look So Much Cuter Around The House". Bustle. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  8. ^ Coscarelli, Alyssa. "WTF Are "Lettuce Sleeves" & Why Are They Trending?". www.refinery29.com. Retrieved 22 November 2020.
  9. ^ Satenstein, Liana. "The Patchwork Top Has Become the Summer Lockdown Look". Vogue. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  10. ^ "À La Moda: Patchwork". Remezcla. 20 October 2020. Retrieved 22 November 2020.