Sunday, May 8, 2011

How to Hem a Prom Dress

Happy Mother's Day!

I spent the day doing what mothers do. I hemmed Julia's prom dress! If MY mother hadn't been here to supervise, it probably wouldn't have gotten done.

When we purchased Julia's dress, the boutique owner asked if we knew how to sew. She proceeded to explain how to hem the dress, which saved us $45 in alteration fees. What a sweet lady! We will be sure to visit her first for next year's prom dress.

The technique she taught me is ingenious! With this technique, you don't have to deal with all that crazy fraying polyester. I wish I knew this when I was hemming costumes. If you are not a seamstress, I hope this will help you someday. Here goes...

Step 1. Measure, pin or baste and press.*
I had to shorten so much (5"+) that I cut off a few inches before I basted to get some of it out of my way. You might not need to baste. You might be fine with just pins.

Step 2. Stitch close to the fold with matching thread.
I started with a fresh, sharp needle and matching thread. Stitch as close to the fold as you can. Take care not to stretch any bias edges.

Here's a tip from a Noodlehead tutorial: use an edgestitching foot. Why didn't I think of that? Or at least read that tut a few hours ago?

Step 3. Trim the excess seam allowance to within 1/8" (or less) of the stitched edge.
This was the scary bit for me. Go slowly and don't cut through to the front of the dress!

Step 4. Roll the edge...
I didn't even need to pin this part, but feel free to do so if that works better for you.

...and stitch close to the fold again, encasing the raw edges.

Step 5. Admire your work!
You will probably see two lines of stitching on the wrong side.

One neat row of stitching on the front!

It is a little long, but that's how Princess Kate wore her gown, so it must be the style now!

*Sorry, I didn't take any pictures of the pinning process. I put Julia up on the wooden piano bench, smoothed the dress to the "floor" and pinned along that line. Then I measured to the pins, and marked a chalk line all the way around at that measurement. I folded up the hem at the chalk line, then basted and pressed. There is a small train on this gown, so at first, I measured the 5"+ off the end of the train. When it was basted, it looked too pointy, so I ended up taking another 2" off the tip of the train to round it out.

The other challenging part of this gown was that it has 2 layers of lining, so I had to do 3 hems! I'm so glad it's done. Now we can focus on hair, makeup and jewelry. The fun stuff!


Mary-Kay said...

Good job Mom! I'm glad I have sons because all they have to do is rent a tux, get the flowers and spend hours shaving, preening and primping to make sure they look as lovely as the girls.

Pat Harrison said...

Looks great Tina!
Good to know that method for hemming too.

Side Stitches said...

Thanks so much for this tutorial. My friend just asked if I could hem her bridesmaid dress. While I quilt I have little experience with clothes so I'm a bit nervous. I'm hoping all will turn out well now that I sort of know what I should do. Thanks!!!

Gail Slawson said...

Thank you so much for your clear description of how to hem a prom dress. I was at a loss at what to do and you made it so easy. My grandaughter appreciates it too!

Anonymous said...

A slight zig-zag stitch is helpful, especially if the dress is cut on the bias. Also, the proper foot, makes a difference in maintaining the correct seam depth. If you are experiencing difficulty, try using a different foot. I've hemmed hundreds of formal gowns, and find a foot with grooves on the bottom is most helpful. (I use an old Singer and have excellent success with the buttonhole foot.) Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this great tutorial! I had to hem a prom dress for a friend's daughter and although I sew frequently, it has been a while since I've done a sewing job like this. The pictures were very helpful and your instructions were clear and concise. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Can't thank you enough - I have 4 layers on a 500 prom dress and I am the grandmother. Scared to death. Youwere a great help

Anonymous said...

I am so grateful for your advise. I offered to hem a friend of my daughter's prom dress and just have a week to do a rather full dress and lining and guess what, I haven't really sewed for 15 years! Wish me luck!!

liz said...

Another reader chiming in to say THANK YOU! I don't have a special dress to hem, but a dear friend asked me to finish the ends of a large piece of chiffon-like fabric and this seems like the perfect way to tackle it!

Fantaisie said...

That was very informative blog!! The jewelry which you wear along with the dress is also important which will make sure you look prettier.

Heather said...

I had no trouble doing a rolled hem on the satin part of the dress, but the sheer part was a horror. I had to hand stitch 21 metres of hem. it two days of constant stitching. I did try on the machine, but it either ate the fabric or didn't move it along. All of my sewing experience gave me no hits for handling sheer.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these great directions. I followed your advices and my daughter's dress turned out so well.
This was the best blog ever for hemming a satin dress.

Anonymous said...

what a nice blog dear
your style is so amazing and inspiring
simply love it!
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Debi said...

AH FRIENDS!!! :) I do alterations, I call my self the village idiot. Any one meet that criteria? Anyway, I have never learned, nor trusted a hemming foot. I am terrified that I will ruin someone's gown. They ain't cheap. I used a round table top on a couple of 1x10 boards. Off the floor, use the edge of the table to guide my scissors. I trim within a couple of inches where they want the hem to be. After I trim the excess, I start pinning. Once it all is pinned, I take a cotton napkin and steam press the new hem, removing pins. I trim within 1/2". I roll my hem over once, and then roll it over again, stitching as I go. In the curve, tricky, I pull the fabric gently to make it curve and stitch. Press, and send home. So far so good, and I haven't ruined one yet. A bit time consuming. but it works for me and my girls. Pageant season, Mardi Gras, and Prom, it is nuts in my little sewing room. AND here I am on the computer. LOL. Sew on ladies!!

Anonymous said...

So u measure and go around the whole amount needed including the train if they want it shorten

Anonymous said...

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Catherine said...

I see this post 11 years old but I am so glad I found it. Today I picked up granddaughter's dress to hem for a prom on Saturday (today is Wednesday). I haven't sewn anything but quilts in more than 50 years. Thank you!