The Best Ways to Hem a Long Skirt

Machine-sewing a hem can be quick and easy.

Photo: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Long skirts can be casual and bohemian or quite elegant. Unfortunately, it's a bit hard to look your best when you're tripping over your skirt. Hem your skirt to keep it long, but not too long for your legs. You can hem your skirt on a sewing machine, by hand, or without sewing at all.

Getting Ready

Regardless of how you're going to hem your skirt, you need to mark and press the hem. Grab a package of straight pins and a trusted friend who won't stab you with the pins. Put on your skirt and stand on a chair or stool, then have her measure from the floor to the desired hemline all around the skirt, and place a line of pins along the new hem; this makes sure the hemline will be straight. Go to the ironing board and press the hem into place, removing the pins as you go. Allow 1½ to 2½ inches for your hem and cut away the excess fabric. Press under ½ inch from the edge, then press along the hemline again. Pin the folded hem into place.

Machine Sewing

If you have a sewing machine and can use it well enough not to sew through your own fingers, you can hem a skirt. Even the most basic sewing machine can sew a straight hem, but the stitching will show. Sew a straight hem by stitching ¼ inch from the top folded edge of your hem, removing the pins as you go; use thread that matches the most prominent color in your skirt to make it as unnoticeable as possible. For a hidden machine hem, use a blind hem stitch, which looks like a straight stitch with a single zigzag every fourth stitch, if your machine has one. Every sewing machine is different, so check your manual for a blind hem how-to.

Hand Stitching

Hand stitching produces a sturdy and invisible hem on long skirts. While it is time-consuming, it requires nothing more than a needle and thread, and you can do it while catching up on your favorite TV guilty pleasure. Take a small stitch in the pinned hem of your skirt to start sewing, then take a tiny stitch through the outer fabric of the long skirt, picking up just a thread or two of the fabric. Bring the needle up through the hem, approximately ¼ inch from the folded edge, so you're taking a tiny bite of the actual skirt and a larger one of the hem allowance. You'll see itty-bitty stitches on the outside of the skirt and larger diagonal ones on the inside folded hem. Work your way around the skirt. If you have a tendency to play hard in your skirts, tie off your thread and start over occasionally to reduce the damage if you trip over your skirt.

Peel and Stick

If you just can't sew or don't have time to hand-stitch a hem, there's a last-minute solution that requires only an iron. Hem tape is a fusible product that temporarily secures your hem, but you can't get away with it as a permanent solution. You can pick up a roll of this handy-dandy notion at discount stores or fabric shops. Get your hem ironed into place, just as you would to sew it. Cut a length of hem tape long enough to go around your skirt, plus a small overlap. Place the hem tape into the hem, with the rough side facing down and the hem facing you. Press the iron onto the hem and hold for three to five seconds, repeating all the way around, then press again from the outside of the skirt.

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