Home > Alterations > Hemming a Dress or Skirt

Hemming a Dress or Skirt

By: Laura Farrant - Updated: 28 May 2013 | comments*Discuss
Hemming how To Hem hem A Skirt hem A

Any dressmaker worth her salt knows how to hem a skirt or dress. It’s just one of those essentials that you cannot simply do without. Learn how to do it just like the professionals.

What’s the Big Deal?

So you know that you should be a dab hand at hemming but you are not sure why? Trust us; you will need to use this skill at some point. If you have ever brought a dress and felt that it sat a little too high on your thigh, an ability to adapt the hem will come in very handy!

Getting Started

All you need to get started is the following:
  • Your skirt or dress
  • Thread in a colour which matches your item
  • A universal needle
  • Dress pins
  • Scissors
  • A seam ripper
  • An iron
  • Fabric marker (chalk, soap, pen – anything will do!)
The best thing about hemming is that you can actually do it all by hand. There is no need to dust off the sewing machine – simply pick up that needle and get threading!

The Six Steps

There are roughly six steps to hemming a dress or a skirt and we have detailed them below. Hemming is quite easy and as you read through the steps you will see that there really is nothing to it.

Step One – Measure Up

It’s vital that before you commit to a new length, that you do your homework Try the item on or measure it exactly to work out the desired alteration – you don’t want to have to unpick your work later on!

Then grab the seam ripper and unpick the existing hem. Be quite gentle when doing this. You don’t want to rip it so don’t be afraid to take your time getting that thread out and ensuring that the fabric is not unsettled.

Step Two – Put the Iron On

After unpicking the hem, iron the fabric flat and get rid of that crease. The reason why we ask you to do this is to ensure that you get a true idea of the length of fabric available and how deep your hem needs to be.

Now try the item back on and see if your original measurements are still accurate. If necessary, adjust those figures to ensure that your item is as short or as long as it needs to be.

Step Three – Chalk it up

Now mark the fabric. Try and draw an accurate and straight line on the fabric where you want the hemline to sit. You don’t have to be overly precise; a slightly wavy or unsteady line won’t jeopardise your project. However, do strive to ensure that it is going to act as a realistic guide.

Step Four – Back to the Iron

Fold the fabric up, along the hemline that you have just drawn up. With the iron, press the new fabric into place, creating a new crease that you will now use as your sewing guide.

Get hold of some basic dress pins and secure the new hem in place.

Step Five – Sewing Time

Use a blind hemming stitch for a well-executed hem. This stitch will provide you with the neatest finish. Otherwise you can use any other stitch that you want really. All you have to ensure is that it is even and as perfect as it can be.


Hemming is not difficult and after reading this short tutorial we are sure that you will agree with us! Just remember to measure up and keep those stitches as neat as possible. Follow these two golden rules and you simply cannot go wrong.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Help.I am altering a maxi dress and want to turn it up by 2".I have turned it up exactly 2" following the original hemline but now it dips on both side seams.It is quite a full skirt but I do not know how to fix it. Any suggestions?
KJ - 28-May-13 @ 5:22 PM
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