Changing Your Clothes

Shopping, Sewing, Upcycling, Repairing: Make the most of your clothes!


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Hem My Skirt, Part 1: A Short (& Biased) Story

I have a white skirt dilemma, and it’s almost Labor Day— I think it now qualifies as an emergency! If I don’t fix this skirt now, I’ll have to bow to the Goddess of Fashion Rules and pack it up until next Memorial Day.

Here’s what’s going on. Last week, when temperatures here in Portland were hovering around 100, I finally fished my one and only white linen skirt out of the ironing pile. (My working theory was that just wearing white linen would give me the psychological advantage over the weather forecast. The jury’s still out.) Well, when I was about to start ironing the skirt, I started to notice a series of strange stains, all more or less near the hemline; strange because they all felt sort of hard, as if wax or something like that had fallen on the skirt and stiffened up. (Don’t ask me how this happened. I’m still scratching my head. I’m thinking these are some of those phantom things that happen in the laundry, much to my mystification.) It’s a little hard to see the stain in this photo,  since it’s more hard than dark, but you can just make it out:

Stain on White Skirt

One of several mysterious stains on my white linen skirt. No amount of soaking or treating seemed to make any difference.

I found stains like this one in several places, but they were all within 5 inches or so of the hem. Now, this skirt is bias-cut, A-line, and (originally) 30″ long from waistband to hem, which translates to mid-calf length on me (I’m over 5’8″ tall). So I thought it might be possible to simply re-hem the skirt to a shorter length, cutting off the offending stain-ridden area. Aha, I thought, I can get rid of the stains and make my skirt a more modern (and flattering) length simultaneously! Brilliant!

Of course, these brilliant ideas often don’t take certain issues into account. As I said, the skirt is bias-cut; this doesn’t necessarily make it more difficult to cut, but the stitching of the new hem will be a little more involved. So for today, I’ll show you how I measured and cut the skirt to its new length, and I’ll cover the finishing (including sewing) in my next post.

What you’ll need:

Something to mark your new hemline before cutting;

sharp shears;

tape measure or ruler;

sewing machine or hand-sewing needle

Okay! First, I’m going to lay my skirt out as smoothly as possible, lining up the front and back hemline edges. (Because I usually photograph things on a white backdrop, I’ve removed the background here so you can see the skirt a bit better.)

Skirt laid flat for cutting My skirt laid flat for cutting. Notice the curve of the hemline. Continue reading