Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to sew a blind hem on a formal dress:
My New Years dress alterations

I bought this beautiful 1950s dress at a local vintage clothing shop, with a slight discount because it needed some work. The original rhinestone buttons at the waist needed to be replaced, the last owner washed it wrong and lost some rhinestones. I wanted it to be shorter, and the halter was definitely too baggy for my size. 

(This tutorial will only focus on the blind hem. For the shortening of the halter and attaching the buttons I used standard altering techniques to be shown again soon!)

For a similar alteration you will need:
  • chalk hem marker
  • pins
  • needles
  • matching thread
  • seam gauge
  • pinking shears

Start with the chalk hem marker. Find the exact length you want the dress. Look straight ahead, stand up straight and mark it all the way around with the hand pump. If you are wearing heels or certain undergarments, be sure to wear these during this step! This is very important. Say you wear a push up bra but not during the marking process, the front of the dress will be higher in the front. When you fit yourself in clothes, undergarments and shoes matter!

Cut about an inch and a half below the chalk marks, using a seam gauge to be precise. Some of your chalk marks may not all be level, like mine above, this is because I looked down. Shame on me for not following my own instructions but disregard the low marks like that. Find the median line and follow that.

When sewing the blind hem, fold 1/2" of the raw edge under, and fold under 1 additional inch. Pin to keep this fold in place. With matching thread, anchor at a side seam. Hem the dress catching the slightest piece of the outside fabric and them come through the folded edge. Repeat all the way around the hem. Press.

For the buttons and the halter, I just took up the neck two inches, sewing by hand. Because I had crazy time constraints, being the host of a huge cocktail party, I did it as quick as I could, while following the proper techniques. And I knew my hair would be down so this wasn't my main focus of altering the dress.

The buttons, I sewed on with black thread, carefully making sure I placed them in the exact spot of the original buttons, since the matching jacket attached to the dress using the buttons. Man I wish I had a better photo of me in that jacket; here is one from instagram in the dressing room when I bought it. It looked like a female tuxedo with the cream satin facing!

This dress was perfect for New Years! We all had the best time! 
See more pictures from my cocktail party here.

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1 comment:

  1. Cutting is the most vital aspect of learning how to sew. If your fabric is ready for cutting, lay it out on a flat table. You may purchase a special cutting board tool. This tool can help you a lot since they are marked for straight lines and right angles. Pin the fabric in place and start cutting.