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how to hem a skirt

March 8, 2016

One of our recent visitors from Illinois gave several of her dresses to one of the SITAG women when she left. A few of them were passed along to see who else they might fit. I was pleased to find that three of them fit me. I decided to shorten them so they end just below my knees. That’s as short as they can be while still fitting the unofficial dress code in villages.

Shortening and hemming a skirt is a skill some SITAG colleagues taught me a few years ago, and I’m proficient at it by now. I figured two large chunks of time should get the three skirts hemmed and allow for the typical interruptions. John was at a meeting one morning last week, all three kids were in good moods, and it seemed like a good time to get a start on the project. I would like to be a good resource for you should you ever need to hem a skirt. Therefore, here is the step-by-step process I followed.

How to hem a skirt

Get out the garment. I got out the teal dress first. I was going to ignore the wrinkled fabric, but D said we needed to iron it.

Get out the iron and ironing board.

Helpfulness awaits.

Mark the desired length.

I tried the dress on over my clothes and had D and M make small pen marks at the bottom of my knees. In absence of a yard stick, we used a mop handle to try to draw a straight line across the bottom of the dress. Would have worked better if I’d found something that does not roll when pushed against by the pen of a five-year-old.

Cut the fabric yourself, despite objections from children that they are good with scissors.

Fold and iron the hem.
I chose to do a simple hem, no blind stitching or basting. The kids kept occupied while I ironed the first section of hem in place and pinned it.

So far, so good!

planning their next moves

Get out the sewing machine. I waited until the last possible minute to get the machine out to minimize tampering. I made the bobbin match the top thread, despite children’s requests to have a different color “for variety.” Kids love helping wind bobbins.

D wanted to make a “blanket” for G out of the scraps of fabric cut from the bottom of the dress. So we did. He handed me one section at a time and I sewed all six together. He wanted a few decorations, so we added some extra lines with different colors of fabric.

Sew the hem.
I sewed the first section of the dress hem. I tried it on. It was a good length. I started to fold, iron, and pin the hem around the rest of the dress.

If I need to reverse stitch, G is ready to help.

While I was ironing, D and M opened the side of the machine to see what’s inside. They discussed what various parts might do. I told them not to move anything. I ironed faster.

M said, “Mommy, look, this came off.” He calmly handed me a spring. He could show me exactly where it had come from. I couldn’t figure out what it was supposed to attach to on one end.

That was all the sewing for the day.

Enlist help
The next day, a colleague moved around a few parts to figure out what the spring should attach to. We almost got the spring to hook all the way on to that part.
The day after that, I continued to forget to show John where I wanted him to try to put the spring. And the day after that, and after that.
Yesterday, another colleague took the sewing machine up to his house to look at it. He reattached the spring.
Today, his wife offered to hem the dresses for me. I accepted the offer, despite D’s insistence that he wants to help finish.
This afternoon, she gave me one of the dresses with the new hem completed.

That is how I had a fun two hours with my children, made a makeshift baby blanket, and will get my dresses hemmed.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Don & Michele Hardie, Maplewood Reformed Church permalink
    March 8, 2016 8:20 pm

    Hi, Lori. Enjoyed reading about your sewing experience! 🙂 Children always make a project more interesting, that’s for sure! Someday you will look back at these days and be amazed at how quickly they went by, and wonder when those dear little boys turned into young men. Enjoy every minute – yes, even the messy, frustrating ones, because if you look hard enough, each one hold blessings of its own. Its hard to believe that not only have our children grown up, but even our grandchildren are already ages 4 – 10. Funny thing though, we haven’t aged at all! Okay, maybe a little. Blessings to you all and thanks for posting.

  2. Mom H permalink
    March 8, 2016 8:52 pm

    I laughed and laughed when I read this! Thanks for sharing this with us!

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