I am having a fit fit fit trying to hem chiffon...I am doing a rolled
hem and it looks pitiful. Any ideas on how I can hem that fine stuff?!
Are you referring to a circle skirt? That gives many people
fits...Hemming a circle skirt or veil is a little tricky. Hemming
a straight edge is easier, and you can use the techniques below for
Because the shape has a pronounced
curve, the hem edge is necessarily several inches larger than the
hemline itself (left). The extra fullness must be "eased"
(slightly gathered) to fit.
If the hem is stitched clumsily, the result is an unattractive hem
that is twisted sideways, with the fabric bunched up in spots. Below
("How to stitch a smooth circular hem" ) I've explained
how to avoid that common mistake, with illustrations.
But first, a few other considerations:
WIDTH OF HEM
A tiny hem is easier to sew than than a wider one, because there is
less extra fullness to ease in. So a circle skirt always has a narrow
hem: one-eighth to one-quarter inch of twice-folded fabric. This requires
one-quarter to one-half inch of hem allowance.
1. Rolled-hem foot: If your
machine has a "rolled hem" presser foot, with a scroll-shaped
gadget on it, that completes the hem in one step.
I've found this works best on straight
edges. On a curved edge, there is still the problem of extra fabric
that must be "eased in," and this requires skill by the
operator so it doesn't get bunched up.
Experiment with scraps to learn how this foot works on your skirt
fabric. Mark the hem as described below below, then trim a quarter
inch from hemline and stitch the skirt edge through the rolled hem
2. Folded two-step narrow-hem: If you don't have a rolled
hem foot, a straight stitch and a regular presser foot (preferably
used with a straight stitch plate with a tiny hole, rather than
a zigzag foot) will do fine. Mark, press and stitch as described
and illustrated below.
3. Advanced one-step narrow-hem:
The edge can be folded twice and stiched in one operation. This
is faster, but requires more skill and practice.
4. Serged hem: Your serging machine, if you have one, may
have a option for making a tiny, tight serged edge that is smaller
than any folded hem.
The serged edge looks very nice, but is not as sturdy as a folded
narrow-hem. That's because it's only one layer of sheer fabric,
the raw edge bound with overlocking threads. With normal wear &
tear on a dance skirt, the edge may weaken and begin to ravel. Then
the skirt must be shortened slightly in order to repair that spot.
A serged hem might work better if you fold the hem edge once,
serge the edge of the fold, then closely trim off any raw edge extending
from the serging. That way, at least the edge has two layers
of chiffon under the serging, rather than one.
5. Zigzag edge: If you don't have a serger, a tiny, tight
zigzag stitch, less than one-eighth inch wide, would work almost
as well. Sew slowly on the fold - don't rush. Make sure the zigzag
goes to the very edge of the fold. Then trim any raw edge extending
from the stitching.
6. Bias Binding: A half-inch double-folded ready-made bias
binding finishes a circular raw edge neatly. But consider the type
of fabric you're using: a cotton binding is appropriate for a gypsy-style
skirt. A satiny acetate bias binding might work with a chiffon or
silky fabric. Either way, a bound finish emphasizes the skirt edge.
You can make ready-made binding narrower than a half-inch
by refolding, pressing and trimming it.
To apply a binding, mark the hemline as described below,
then trim to a quarter-inch or so. The binding is folded over the
raw edge to enclose it, with the slightly wider edge placed underneath.
That way, as you edge-stitch the top side, it will also stitch through
the underside of the binding. As illustrated below, do not let the
7. Cover with trim: the hem can be covered with a flexible
trim, such as a half-inch wide sequined braid. This will add firmness
and attention to the hemline. But since the hem is very wide, this
method can run into quite a few extra dollars in trim yardage.
Mark the skirt hem as above. Trim the hem to a quarter-inch or
so, then press to the OUTSIDE of the skirt. Stitch trim over the
edge. Now the hem looks finished on both sides.
STEP ONE: MARK HEM
First, allow the skirt to hang several days so the bias areas
stretch. They may stretch several inches longer than the areas
on the straight grain.
Then, wearing the skirt (and shoes, if they're part of your costume)
have a friend mark the hemline about one inch from the floor with
pins or chalk. Or, stand on a stool and use a ruler to mark an inch
higher than the surface of the stool (easier on the person doing the
marking). Mark about every 6-8 inches - since a wide distance between
marks may result in an inaccurate circular hem.
TIP: Mark the inside
center front of the hipband with a letter F on a tag, or a tiny safety
pin, so that you always wear the skirt the same way, not rotated.
If it's rotated (so the front is now at side or back) the hem may
not hang evenly.
PRESS: Fold the skirt edge under an eighth-inch below the
marked hemline and press. This is helpful, because then the
hemline is clear, even if the pins slip out, or the chalkmarks rub