Changing Your Clothes

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Hem My Skirt, Part 2: Happily Hemmed In!


It’s interesting how projects evolve. In Hem My Skirt, Part 1,  my main objective was to cut off the stained lower edge of my white linen skirt, to at least make it wearable (albeit 6.5″ shorter). The challenge was to mark and cut the skirt to its new length— said skirt being bias-cut, with a curving, A-line-verging-on-semi-circular hem. End of Part 1 found us with a newly-trimmed skirt, hanging for a couple of days before hemming (a necessity when working with bias-cut garments).

However, once I started working on preparing the trimmed-and-hung skirt for the sewing of the new hem, I realized that, along with getting rid of the stained part of the old hem, I could also improve on the finishing of the machine-stitched hem. Here’s how it looked originally, folded under twice, then sewn:

Skirt with original hem

Skirt with original hem, turned under twice before machine-stitching; note the ripply edge, not a good finish for a bias-cut skirt, in my opinion. We can improve on this.

As I mentioned in Part 1, when working with a bias-cut garment, careful and minimal handling is my main goal; the more you work with it, especially with a cut edge like the hem on my skirt, the more it’s liable to stretch out. This is most likely the reason for the rippling effect on the edge of the original hem (above photo).  And for me, this does not create a finely-finished look. So the goal now, when stitching the new hemline, is to improve on the original finishing. (My mother always said to leave things better than how I found them.)

Here’s how I decided to handle it:

1) Carefully serge the raw hem edge;

2) Turn up and press a 1/4″ hem (about twice the width of the serged edge);

3) Machine-stitch the new hem with a fairly long stitch (stitch length = 3 on my machine)

Steps 1 & 2: Serge, fold, and press. (This is a basic 3-thread serged edge.)

New skirt hem, folded and pressed prior to stitching

New skirt hem, folded and pressed prior to stitching; it’s folded to a 1/4″ depth, about twice the width of the serged edge.

Step 3: Sew. I did this very slowly, with the wrong side facing me, using the line on the presser foot to the right of the right-hand red mark as a guide for the folded edge of the hem. Because I’m working with a combination of a bias cut and a rather loosely-woven fabric, I chose a stitch length of 3. (Most machines default to 2.5.)

Ready to sew the new hem

Ready to sew the new hem: if you look to the right of the right-hand red mark on the presser foot, you’ll see the guideline aligned with the folded edge of the hem. This placed the stitching line a little more than halfway up the 1/4″ hem depth.

Here’s how the new hem looks on the inside:

Inside of the new hem

Inside of the new hem; note the absence of ripples! It’s a nice, clean finish.

So after starting with the simple goal of removing a stained part of the skirt so that I could wear it again, this project turned into more of an exercise in improving on its original state, specifically in the stitching of the new hem. I do think it looks so much better! And I might add also that it was less work overall— yes, it had to be stitched twice (counting the serging), but it only had to be pressed and folded once. This is significant to those of us who’ve burned our fingers doing those twice-folded narrow hems.

And now, ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I present to you… the all-new (and improved), machine-stitched bias hem!

Skirt hem, before & after

Skirt hem, before & after: the new hem is so much smoother!

Author: Colormusing

I'm a writer, color palette creator, and designer of fashion, lingerie, graphics, knitwear patterns, and yarn.

3 thoughts on “Hem My Skirt, Part 2: Happily Hemmed In!

  1. Pingback: Stay! Taming a Beastly Narrow Hem « Changing Your Clothes

  2. Is the seged hem done on an ordinary sewing machine please? I’ve used the zig-zag stitch but this looks different. Thanks

    • Hi Anne! The serged hem is done with a serger, not my regular sewing machine. You can use your machine’s zig-zag stitch for the same purpose, though (to finish the raw edges); it will look different than if you used a serger, but it will get the job done!

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