How To Let Down the Hem

January 06, 2018

How To Let Down the Hem

Hey ya'll.  As some of you know, I try to include a 2" hem on my dresses whenever I can because.... fabric can always be cut off, but it can never be added on!  Sometimes, a 2" hem isn't appropriate for the design, but that's beside the point.

So if you sew a bit, and need the extra length, follow my steps and you can bypass paying a tailor to let down the hem of your pretty dress!

First, I use my seam ripper to take out the original hem.  Obviously, be careful here so you don't rip the fabric.  You'll be left with a pretty hefty crease from where the original hem was pressed, don't worry. I have a solution for this.

Pick out any little left over threads, and move on to the next step which is creating a guide for yourself to press your new hem.  I am never able to do it perfectly without this step!  Set your machine to a wide stitch (also known as a basting stitch) and remember DO NOT BACK STITCH on this part.  This is just a guide and will be removed later.  Sew all the way around AT LEAST 1/4" away from raw edge, most of the time I do 3/8" to make it a bit easier on myself.

Now, use your iron to press up this 3/8" you just sewed.  I use a ton of steam, and I do more of a patting motion with my iron instead of a sliding back and forth motion.

At this point, I check my two edges where the kick pleat is in the back to make sure they match up.  Most of the time they don't and I have to do a little bit of adjusting with the iron to make them even again.


Now you sew.  If you're scared, pin the heck out of the sucker, but if you feel confident, just sew it without pinning.  If you pressed it well enough, it should stay put while you're sewing it.  Remember to change your stitch length back to normal AND back stitch this time.  I also stretch while I sew to keep it from bunching up.  On a hem this small, I use the feature on my sewing machine where I can move my needle over, leaving more of the fabric to the right side, and less drag under the presser foot.  If your machine doesn't have this feature, don't worry.  You'll survive, you just might need to stretch a little more, and go slowly.

When you get all done, and you look at it, it's going to look stretched out and bumpy, not the smooth hem you were hoping for.  Don't worry, we'll fix that in a minute, but first you need to remove your guide stitch.  Pull a few stitches out until you have a few inches worth of thread to pull on with your fingers and start cinching it up as if you were going to make gathers in your hem.  Just keep going until you get to the end and you can pull it all the way out.  Neat trick huh?!  This trick works for a lot of things instead of picking out each and every stitch!  

Now it's going to be really wrinkled and bubbly and ugly looking so take it back to your ironing board and steam the living daylights out of it!  

I also use starch and Magic Sizing to help get rid of that crease from the previous hem! 


I'm serious, use a lot of steam, and pat it with your iron, don't slide it too much or else it'll keep those bumps stretched out and visible.  The steam will make the stretched out fabric shrink back to it's normal state, and patting it with the iron will make it stay that way. It's also probably a good idea to use a press cloth so that you can use high heat without damaging your fabric.  (make sure you look at your fabric composition, poly, rayon etc etc, so that you know what setting to use on your iron.  And if you're using a press cloth, you can bump it up to cotton usually.  I just use a scrap piece of 100% cotton fabric as my press cloth)

At this point, keep pressing to get everything dry and smooth.  And you're done!  It should look pretty good now, and there shouldn't be much of a crease anymore.

Good work!  Hope this helped you get a professional finish to your dress!  Comment if you have any questions for me!



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