How to Hem a Skirt

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Hand sewn garments need hems to give a clean finish to their bottom edges. These instructions are for a hemming a simple straight skirt and include a variation for easing fullness into the hem of circle skirts.

Things You'll Need

  • Iron
  • Pins
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Thread
  • Garment to be hemmed
  • Shears
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Sewing machine (not pictured)
Directions for hemming a simple straight skirt and easing fullness into the hem of circle skirts.
Directions for hemming a simple straight skirt and easing fullness into the hem of circle skirts. (Image: Seamstress Erin Currie)

Step 1

You will need basic supplies for home sewing. Please see the last slide for an itemized list of tools and materials.

Supplies for sewing a hem.
Supplies for sewing a hem. (Image: Seamstress Erin Currie)

Step 2

Pin (or have an assistant pin) your garment to the length you would like it to be. Draw a line of chalk at the hemline.

Chalk the hemline.
Chalk the hemline. (Image: Seamstress Erin Currie)

Step 3

Unpin the garment and draw another line of chalk 1 inch below the first chalk line. Cut your garment along this second chalk line. This cut line is the bottom of your garment. (This will give you a 3/4 inch hem. For a larger hem, draw the chalk line your desired hem length and add 1/4 inch from the first chalk line).

Chalk the cutting line.
Chalk the cutting line. (Image: Seamstress Erin Currie)

Step 4

Fold the bottom of your garment up 1/4 inch and press.

Iron 1/4 inch at bottom.
Iron 1/4 inch at bottom. (Image: Seamstress Erin Currie)

Step 5

Fold the bottom of your garment up 3/4 inch (or your desired hem length, determined by your second chalk line) and press.

Iron 3/4 inch at bottom.
Iron 3/4 inch at bottom. (Image: Seamstress Erin Currie)

Step 6

Sew a scant 3/4 inch (meaning a needle’s width less than 3/4 inch) so your hem seam is just inside the edge of the folded hem fabric, sewing from the inside of the garment. Note, this means your bobbin thread will be visible on the front of the garment. You’re finished!

Sew the hemline.
Sew the hemline. (Image: Seamstress Erin Currie)

Step 7

Variation: If you are sewing a circular hem, you will need to ease the extra fullness of the fabric because the circumference at the bottom of the skirt is larger than the circumference at the hemline. After pressing the bottom of your garment up 1/4 inch, run a long basting/gathering stitch through the fold and gather the fabric until it fits. Press. Sew your hem through the 1/4 inch fold, sewing from the inside of the garment. Note that this means your bobbin thread will be visible on the front of the garment. Remove your basting thread. You’re finished!

Hemming a circle skirt.
Hemming a circle skirt. (Image: Seamstress Erin Currie)

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