How to hem a dress?

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But what a pretty little dress this is! Small, small … It’s easy to say! In fact, she would even have a few extra inches to fit you perfectly. Unless … you take out the needle and thread to shorten it! Whatever it’s material or shape, we give you the key points (and stitching) to hem this dress.

Some basic principles for hemming your dress

If we want to do this well and beautifully, we will do it right! That is to say that we will adopt a basic rule for sewing a hem: it must be folded inwards twice (except for very rare exceptions which we will tell you!). This is called a double entry. It’s not just to annoy us: it avoids having a too frank seam. It also ballasts the edges so that the dress keeps an elegant fall.

So there will be:

  • a “hem” pleat, the size needed to shorten your dress.
  • a “return” fold in your “hem” fold, of approximately 1cm. 

An example! If you want to remove 2cm from your garment: first make a fold of this size. Inside this fold, you redo another 1cm. And There you go!

And for all that, you will need:

  • 1 chalk
  • Pins. Warning! Take them without plastic head: you will have to iron the fabric. The heat of the iron could melt them.
  • Thread and a needle or a sewing machine  !

Now that you know everything and have the equipment, let’s get into the details!

We hem a straight dress

The cut is right? You’re in luck: the hem of your dress will be quite easy to do. If your fabric is fine (beautiful muslin) or moderately thick (jeans, fine woolen …), you can sew it by machine or by hand. If the material is very thick, turn to an extra-strong ribbon … Are you intrigued? Let’s go for the explanations!

We start with a fitting session

  • Put on the dress. Not bad!
  • Fold the excess fabric inwards, to arrive at the desired garment length. At this point, don’t worry about the hem fold or return fold! Only adjust your purchase to the right dimensions.
  • Have someone pin all the way down.
  • Remove it.

 The extra tip :

No one to help you? Even put a pin, at each knee. Remove the dress and measure the waistline from the hem. While respecting this dimension, pin all around, flat on a table. Try again to see if it’s okay with you and adjust if necessary!

Once this step is done, iron the edge of your dress to have a clean fold: this will be your “hem fold”. Now measure the length of fabric to be removed:

Case n ° 1: your dress hardly needs to be altered. If the length is less than 2 cm, you will not have to make a “return fold”. You can go straight to sewing.

Case n ° 2:  the opposite is true! Your dress really needs to be shorter and you have a nice length to take off: 

  • Remove the pins.
  • Draw a chalk line 3cm above the hem fold you just made. 
  • Cut off the excess, otherwise, your hem will be too big and the result will not be very aesthetic.

 From there, a little more effort before sewing! Unless your fabric is thick: in this case, go directly to the extra strong step below. If not :

  • Fold and pin the edge on 1cm towards the inside: you have your return fold.
  • Iron to mark it and remove the pins.
  • Fold again, according to your hem fold. 
  • If necessary, add a few pins to hold it in place.

You are ready for sewing!

For machine sewing

Want to use a sewing machine? To you the right point! Sew a few millimeters from the edge of the hem, starting in one of the already existing side seams of your garment.

To sew by hand

Among the hand-stitched stitches, prefer the slipper stitch. Do not tighten it too much so that the seam remains inconspicuous. 

For sewing with extra strong ribbon

The extra strong is a ribbon found in haberdashery. Thanks to it, no hem or return folds. This solution will allow you to avoid having three layers of fabric at the hem. It will be easier to handle and also prettier. The technique is quite simple:

  • Pin and sew your extra-strong ribbon to the bottom of your dress, “right side” side, so as to hide the edge of the fabric.
  • Fold it completely inside.
  • Sew it at the hemstitch. Finished!

We make a hem on a rounded dress

A rounded dress is a dress that draws like a semicircle at the base when laid flat. Once worn, it is flared. Very feminine! But a little more technical to shorten.

Measure the hem 

Here too, we will first try on the item of clothing and play the model to find out the hem size she needs. We do it a little differently than with a straight cut.

  • Put it on.
  • On the front only, fold the edge inward to the desired hem.
  • Pin (with the help of another person or alone, as explained above).
  • Take off your dress.
  • Iron the hem to the front.
  • Remove the pins and undo the fold. Yes! Yes!
  • Measure the distance from the crease mark to the existing hem seam. 
  • Transfer this measurement all around, using a ruler, and mark it every 3 cm with chalk or a pin.
  • Unstitch all of the existing hem and iron to smooth the fabric.

 Prepare the hem 

  • Draw or pin a new line 1 cm below the measurement you have just made.
  • Fold your fabric inwards at this mark: this will be your return fold.
  • Fold your fabric again at your first measurement: this will be the hem fold. Phew! Here we are!

 Go to sewing! 

Again, the classic stitch will set your machine stitching. You just need to take it easy and master the so-called rounded seams. At the same time, nothing surprising, given the cut of the dress!

By hand, long live the slipper point!

The extra tip  :

It’s the same technique if your dress is flared!

Lined or elastic dress: bonus info

With all this, you will become an expert in dress hemming  !

For a hem on a lined dress

It will just … double the handling: the fabrics must be independent to keep a good movement! We will therefore have a hem for the dress, another for the lining, keeping the same distance between the two (in general, the lining is shorter). 

For a hem on a jersey or elastic fabric dress

First, you choose a suitable needle on your sewing machine. Then we choose a zigzag stitch. Do you have an overlock machine? Even better!

With this information, we hope that you will no longer hesitate to indulge yourself in the store. Any other tips for you to hem a dress  ? Share them in the comments!

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