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Any handy tips on hemming out there?

November 22, 2010

I don’t have any of those funky gadgets that help when you’re trying to do it solo.

Its a frustrating process of trying on the frock, working out where it needs to come up, taking it off, hanging it up and trimming, trying it on again.   Its excruciating I tell you.

This pic was taking on 2nd attempt where I thought it wasnt too bad so overlocked it.   Yeah.  No. 

Visit me here and share your wisdom, or leave a note here at sew retro.

and, not to pressure you or anything.   But I have today and Thursday to do this, as the party is on friday.


  1. What I do is try on the garment, and have someone help me pin it. I stand next to a table and have them pin at the exact height of the table around the entire thing. Leaving the pins in, I then decide in the mirror how long I want it to be and measure the length from where it was pinned. I then go back and measure say 12'' from each pin, and fold it and pin at that point. This really does works well in creating an even hem.

  2. Pin a piece of string at the right height across a door frame. Cover string with talcum powder or chalk. Turn in a circle brushing edge of skirt against string and presto! Nice level hem marking!
    Make sure you're wearing your party shoes as you do this… heels can affect the tilt of your body. Good luck!

  3. If you have someone around who is not a sewer you can pick up a pin hem marker, it guides the pins in to the right place.Try ebay or etsy for a vintage model. If you have no one you can get a chalk hem marker tool, which sprays chalk dots on the fabric but these are hit and miss.

    – Claire

  4. Go to a tailor and have them pin it for you while you are wearing it. If you tell them you are going to stitch the hem yourself, they should not charge you very much money. I did this in the past with a long bias skirt and it did not cost me very much.

  5. I usually put my dresses on my dressform, and measure down from the waist seam with a measuring tape, marking with pins the entire distance of the hem around, where I plan to trim. I find it works like a charm.

  6. Great dress!

    I tried the chalk-line-in-a-door-frame method and it did not work for me. I had to press my skirt agaisst the string to get a visible transfer which distorted the hang of the skirt. I also had a hard time getting the soft fullness of the skirt to touch in enough places to make a good line. I think it might work for a pencil skirt – where you can use your leg to press the fabric into the string without changing the drape of the skirt too much- but I would hesitate to do it with a full skirt. If you are sewing solo, just measure down from the waist (after your skirt has hung up to strecth for a day or two) and it will be close enough. By the time you add the crinoline and get moving it will be impossible to see any minor differences.

  7. In a pinch you could measure the back, front and side hems of a similar dress you already own that is at the length you desire. Then baste it and do a visual check in a mirror before you commit to a true hem.

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