Learn how to hem a skirt! Hemming a skirt is probably the most challenging part of finishing your garment. You don’t just ‘put up a hem’! The skirt part of the dress or just a stand-alone skirt needs to be finished in just the right way to hang beautifully and sit at the right length for the finished garment to look perfect. The hem must hang neatly and never look bunched, crooked or skimpy. How do you achieve these results? Let's find out how!
How to Hem a Skirt
Follow these simple steps and you will have the perfect method to hem a skirt.
Step 1 - Measuring
Remember the hem is best measured from the floor to the hem to find the right hemline. When the hem is completed, it must hang level or in line with the floor. This simple guide will help to get a hemline that looks straight.
Measuring a hem from the waistline may not always give you exact results due to the curves of your body. A correct hem length is best measured from the floor to the hem.
Step 2 - Try on for Fit and Pin
Try on your skirt and decide on the length of the finished hem. A friend or partner to assist with the measurement from the floor up to where the hem will sit is a great help.
An alternative way to measure the skirt length could be to use an existing skirt you have. If the skirts are similar then the existing skirt can be laid flat and the new skirt hem measured in comparison with the skirt that has the correct hem length.
- Pin the line of the hem all around with pins horizontally placed in the fabric.
- Remove the skirt and turn up the hem on the pinned line and press with an iron and presser cloth. The reason for this pressing step is to press in a crease line that will serve as your hemline.
Step 2 - Add Seam Allowance & Cut Excess
Measure the hem width from the pinned hemline to where you plan to cut the fabric for the hem. The hem width will include a turn-up for the neatening of the hem edge. There are several ways to hem a skirt discussed later in the article but here I will show you the simplest way first.
- For a simple double fold hem of ¾ inch (2cm), cut 1 inch (2.5cm) from the pinned crease line.
Step 4 - Pressing the Hem
- For a double hem, press the raw edge over by ¼" (6mm) on the wrong side.
- Fold the hem up along the original crease and give it a firm press again. This second fold will be ¾" (2cm).
TIPS FOR FULL ROUNDED HEMS - If you find the skirt is very full and the hem does not turn up evenly, then put a gathering thread around the hem and gently draw up the gathers to help the hem to fit in evenly.
Step 5 - Stitching
Hand stitch along the top fold of the hem using a hand slip stitch or machine straight stitch.
- For machine stitching, ensure your bobbin thread color matches the outside of the skirt. Use a suitable needle and thread for your fabric and set the stitch length to a medium setting.
Finishing the hem could also be decorative with decorative stitches, lace trims, ric-rac, and bias binding.
More on How to Sew Hems
- GENERAL HEMS – How to Sew a Hem
- NARROW HEMS – How to Sew a Narrow Hem
- ROLLED HEM FOOT – How to Use a Rolled Hem Foot
- WIDE HEMS – How to Sew Wide Hems
- CIRCULAR HEMS – How to Sew Circular Hems
- BLIND HEMS – How to Sew a Blind Hem
- RUFFLED HEMS – Lettuce Hems
- KNIT FABRIC HEMS – How to Hem Knit Fabric
- KNIT HEMS – Twin Needle
- SQUARE HEMS – How to Sew Mitered Corners
- SCALLOPED HEMS – Scalloped Edges Hems
- PANTS HEMS – How to Hem Pants
- DOUBLE HEM – Double Fold Hem
- HEMMING TAPE (NO SEW) How to use Hemming Tape
- HAND STITCH HEMS – Hemming Stitch – Best Hand Stitches
- HAND HEM – How to Sew Catch Stitch Easily
- SINGLE HEM - How to Sew a Single Fold Hem
Tips for Sewing a Perfect Skirt Hem
Here are some hem tips to help with sewing a perfect skirt hem.
Tip 1 - Make a Hem Card
This is a piece of card with different hem lengths marked on it. Slip the card into your hem width once you have measured the finished hem length and press the hem up to this measured height. This will give you an evenly marked hem width all around. Make an allowance for the turn-over of the hem.
Tip 2 - Finish Raw Edges
Prepare the raw edge of the hem prior to hemming. The raw edge needs to be trimmed ready to sew into the hem. It could be neatened with a serger, or a single turn with a machined finish. Add in a small seam allowance for this purpose.
Tip 3 - Pinning
Press the hem and inset pins vertically to get an even spread of the fullness of the hem. A small tuck to ease the fullness at the seam edge or a slight gathering stitch may help ease a fuller hem into the hem length to make sure the hem lies flat. The eased fullness helps with the extra fabric in the hem.
Tip 4 - Curved Hems
Tip 5 - Hand Hem Stitches
Tip 6 - Stopping Puckering
Hemming web or fabric bonding tape are great hemming options to stop puckering in thin fabrics. Use an iron to press and bond the hem together with products like ‘Bondweb’ or ‘Wonderweb’. This bonding fabric is also a great way to repair a hem if necessary. It is a good tactic to use on fabric that is very soft and may show the stitches of the hem. Read more about hemming tape.
Tip 7 - Leave Overnight
Some hems need to hang overnight to allow the fabric to ‘drop’. This is particularly true of a skirt cut on the bias. These principles also apply to a straight basic hem.
How to Hem a Skirt - Types of Hems to Use
There are other hems to mention because they suit different fabrics and styles of skirts. The following list of hem types will help you choose the right hem to suit your skirt.
Single Fold Hem
Neaten the edge with a zig-zag or serger and fold up the hem width and sew straight along the edge of the hem width you have chosen. This is a good option for a narrow hem or for thicker fabrics where it is not possible to fold the hem twice. Read more about single fold hems.
Double Fold Hem
The double fold hem encloses the raw edges of the hem with a narrow fold first and then the hem is folded a second time to reach the finished hem width. This is not a good choice for bulky fabrics because it creates a thick hem.
- Press your raw edge up by ¼ inch (6mm) on the wrong side of the skirt
- Press the hem up again by the desired amount. ¾" (2cm) is a common hem width for skirts
- Stitch along the top of the fold with a straight stitch. The bobbin color should match the outside of the skirt.
The rolled hem is especially suited to a narrow hem on lightweight fabrics. The hem is rolled into itself and stitched accordingly. The rolled hem would be cut to just under the finished hem length because it does not have a full hem allowance. It may be hand-stitched or some machines have a rolled hem foot attachment.
The stitch of the blind hem is barely visible and this gives the hem its name. Blind hems can be machined or hand-stitched. They are a good option for most wider hems.
This is a very narrow hem and uses three rows of machine stitching. It works very well on sheer fabrics like chiffon or fabrics prone to fraying. The pin hem is a good choice for a skirt that you want to fall exactly at the edge and not have the bother of folding over at an exact hem width.
- Measure your hem length as before.
- Then stitch along the edge close to the fold line of your hem length.
- Put your hem into the machine with the right sides showing and stitch one line along the edge of the hem fold by the folded edge mark.
- Stitch a second line close to the first.
- Then cut away the excess fabric and turn the hemmed part over to the wrong side of the fabric.
- Press firmly and now your pin hem is ready for its third line of stitches.
- The hem can be machined or hand-stitched and the final row of stitches may be on the right side of the skirt or on the wrong side. It is your choice.
How to Hem a Skirt - In Conclusion
How to hem a skirt is probably the most important finishing touch to your garment. Long or short, stand-alone or part of a dress, the hem is the vital part of making your garment look perfect. When you have put heart and soul and stitchery into making something fit for any occasion it is the hem that adds the final creative touch.