Wednesday, April 3, 2013

DIY Sewing: How to hem a skirt or dress with seam binding and an invisible hem

Do you have that one dress in your closet you thought you'd shorten and never finished? A hem that isn't sewn and you don't know what to do next? If so, then this tutorial is for you. It can be used on any kind of skirt hem or dress. Be sure you try your dress on before hemming it, and leave an extra inch or two depending on your seam allowance. 

This particular dress was a gift from a friend of mine. It was floor length originally. Without measuring to save room for a dress, I cut off the bottom half of the skirt for this piece from my winter line of lingerie. I assumed I'd cut up the entire dress, before trying it on of course. And then I realized I'd just hem it and wear it as is! It worked out perfectly. It's been sitting in my work line ever since, and it just happens to fit me perfectly! It could have used an extra inch or two for it to be optimal, but what can ya do? 

For this alteration, you will need:
  • a dress
  • seam binding of any color, as long as it doesn't show through the fabric. I chose vintage "Hug Snug" I bought at a local thrift store. 
  • needles
  • sewing machines
  • thread that matches dress fabric
  • hand needle
  • iron and ironing board

Start by sewing seam binding to bottom of dress/shirt. When you come full circle around the skirt, back stitch on seam binding. Pin hem with a slight overhang of fabric, about an inch or more. Press. Thread hand needle and put on some music. This will take a few minutes..

Sew an invisible hem along the bias tape, grabbing the slightest bit of fabric. Because this particular skirt is a very circular cut, I stitched tiny little darts along the bias tape every 10" or so. This allows the skirt to flow and the hem to lay just right.

 Keep sewing, almost there...

Press again and you're done! Trim excess thread and clean up your sewing area. You can see in the above picture, the white thread showing through just a bit. This hem is optimal for vintage polyester dresses such as this. It is less bulk than a double folded hem.

Isn't it gorgeous!? I can't wait for a hot spring or summer day to wear this dress. It's so bold and bright. It'd be perfect with some vintage pumps, my wayfarers, and a skinny white leather belt. I love the way simple A line polyester dresses fit. Spring is here and I am about to break them all out of my closet!

Hope you all found this tutorial helpful. It can be applied to all kinds of clothing. Scared to start sewing? Just jump in. You can do it. For other helpful tutorials on my blog, click on the tutorial index at the top of this page. Questions? Comments?!

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  1. Excellent post Sally! I actually competely forgot about seam binding and you've just inspired me on how I can finsih off the arm holes ofa dress I just made and decided to leave the sleeves off after sewing the whole dress! Thanks lady.

  2. ps you look absolutely adorable and your hair looks fantastic in that up do!