How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

Although it's certainly possible to hem any skirt by hand, using a machine yields a more professional look—once you get the hang of it. And once you've mastered the techniques, hemming skirts on a machine takes very little time. You'll be richly rewarded if you take patience and care in measuring, pinning, and pressing the hems as you go. As with most sewing projects, the devil is in the details. Use these three basic techniques for hemming most A-line, dirndl, full, pencil, or tube skirts.

"Double Turn-Back" and "Topstitched" Hem

This is the most common hem. It simply involves turning the unfinished edge of the fabric under.

1 Using a seam gauge, divide the total hem allowance in half. For example, if working with a 1-inch hem, turn the garment inside out and iron the hem up a ½ inch on the wrong side. It's easiest to use glass-head pins to pin the fabric to the ironing board. Press the hem flat.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

2 Turn the hem up another ½ inch, and then press the new fold flat. Some pros are able to skip this step, but its worth the extra few moments of ironing to get a really smooth, flat hem.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

3 Working from the outside of the fabric, so you can't see the raw edge, line up the fold against the left edge of the presser foot. You can feel the edge of the hem with your fingers even if you cannot see the "bump" through the fabric. Adjust the sewing machine needle to the left position, if your machine has a needle-right position. Topstitch the hem into place.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

"Faced" Hem

Use this technique if you don't have much fabric to invest in the hem. It generally can be done with only a ¾-inch fabric loss. The bias tape used here will bend around curved edges, providing a polished, finished look.

1 Press the right side of the bias tape's fold open. Take care not to iron it completely flat. You need to be able to see the crease.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

2 Lay the bias tape face-down on top of the right side of the fabric. Line up the raw edge of the tape with the raw edge of the fabric. Secure it with pins. Using your sewing machine, stitch in the crease.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

3 Using a warm iron, press the seam flat.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

4 Press the tape on the wrong side of the fabric and pin.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

5 Using an edge stitch, machine-sew the tape in place, and then remove any pins.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

"Blind" Hem

This technique makes a nearly invisible stitch. You can also use it on dressier fabrics where it's important not to see the stitching. Try to match the color and weight of the thread exactly with the fabric.

1 Install the blind-hem foot onto your machine.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

2 Turn the skirt inside out and press 1 inch of fabric up on the wrong side.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

3 Open the crease temporarily to fold ¼ inch of the raw edge into the hem and press. Then refold the crease from Step 2.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

4 Set the machine to the blind-edge stitch. Nearly every modern machine has this setting, but if you're working on a really old machine, set it on the smallest stitch you can work with easily.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

5 Use the handwheel to "walk" the machine. Do this until the needle swings to the far-left zigzag. Allow the needle to just barely catch the fold. Use the hand screw to adjust the bar on the foot so that it butts directly up against the fold. This will ensure even stitches.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

6 The big zigzag of the stitch will catch just a thread of the fold, and the little zigzags will finish the raw edge, guarding against future fraying.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

7 Unfold the hem and use an iron to press it flat.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

8 From the outside, you'll see a tiny stitch that looks like a dot about every ½ inch around the bottom of the skirt. If you see big stitches, it's an indication that you've stitched too much onto the fold. Carefully rip out the stitches with a seam ripper and begin again.

How to Hem a Skirt on a Sewing Machine

The skirt is thought to be the second oldest form of clothing, preceded only by the loincloth. But—flashing forward many centuries—Christian Dior is credited with inventing the pencil skirt and the A-line skirt.

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