How To Sew a Partial Hem

There are many instances where you may need to sew just part of a hem. Maybe you have a skirt that is uneven, too long in the front or back, or maybe you have pants with the same problem.

Today, I am going to use this bridal gown to illustrate how to sew a partial hem.

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The bride asked that the entire front edge be hemmed up, but that I should leave the train alone.

So, you’ll need to pin up the amount of fabric on your garment that needs to be raised.

Many times, the transition from front to back is no big deal.

But, sometimes, you’ll be raising four or five inches of the hem and you wonder how to make that smooth transition to the back of the skirt.

In this case, I am not raising the hem too much, but I still need to taper the fabric so that it has a smooth transition front to back.

For most long dresses, I like the front edge of the dress to be one inch off of the floor to give the customer enough clearance to walk without feeling like she is going to trip on her hem.

At the side seams, the hem will almost touch the floor, and then I’ll gradually taper the hem back to the train.

So, to do that, I took out the stitches for about two inches beyond the side seams and into the train area:

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You’ll need to do the same. Take out about two inches of stitches into the hem area that you are not going to alter.

Fold the fabric back along the new foldline and press the new edge:

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Next, press the rest of the hem, taking out pins before you get to them:

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If you look at the photo below, you’ll notice that the underside edge is finished with a serger (stitching on the right) and the right side of the fabric was topstitched (the stitching on the left).

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When I go to finish the hem, I’ll do the same to it.

Take note of how your hem is finished because you’ll want to finish your new hem area the same way that was originally done, if possible. (Sometimes, you can’t duplicate what has been done, but you can come close enough.)

Next, trim off any excess fabric and finish the raw edge.

I used a serger to both trim the edge and serge it. This saved me a step and some time:

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If you serge it and you have the loose thread tails, you can weave them back into the serged edge or tuck them into the hem when you topstitch the edge.

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Now you can see that all I have to do is fold over the finished edge:

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Notice that the transition isn’t really noticeable.

Now, you’ll need to topstitch the edge.

I like to topstitch from the right side of the fabric (hem):

Since the original stitching is really close to the edge, I move my needle all the way to the right and then stitch:

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When you get to the other side, just meet the original stitching and backstitch to hold it tight.

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This is what the new hem looks like at the side seam:

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Pretend I pressed it before I took the photo!

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Linda-I was looking at this post and wondered what you do if the bottom of the dress has horsehair trim sewed in and you have to shorten the dress.
    Thanks-
    Bev

  2. First, you cry! Just kidding (sort of!) I am dealing with one of those right now. I pay attention to how it was put in first. For instance, is it just attached to the outer layer or is it also attached to the lining as well? Is there topstitching, understitching, etc? Take mental notes on all the construction because you want to put it back in the same way you took it out.

    Go ahead and press up the new hemline. Then, on the original hemline, measure how far up the horsehair is from that and reattach it at the same distance all the way around. If you have lining as well, I take the piece of fabric that I trimmed off the hem and trim that same amount off the lining. Does that make sense? Oh, and before I do, I make sure that it will work, be sure to figure in seam allowances as well. Don’t forget those!

    Then, I taper the horsehair and new hemline to meet the old.

    Let me know if you need more explanation on those steps.

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