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Thread: Shortening the hem on a jersey dress

  1. #1
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    Shortening the hem on a jersey dress

    My daughter has asked me shorten a jersey dress. I have to cut off approximately six inches off the bottom of the dress. I have been sewing for over sixty years, but I have never cut this type of knit. My question is how do I cut a straight line when I'm cutting off the six inches and how do I hem it to get it even? I would appreciate any help you can give me. Also, I do not have a serger.

  2. #2
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Yikes! I would not attempt this without a serger.

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    I don't know that I would attempt without a serger either. Those jersey knit's have a tendency to stretch all over the place. Other than that, when I have large amounts to cut from hems...I measure x from the bottom of the hem edge once it's turned under. Leave usually about 1/4" to turn under at the cut edge to make a nice clean edge on the inside. You could attempt this with the 'blind hem' stitch on your regular machine if it has one. If you've not used that feature before, read the directions about 6 times before you attempt on your final product. The piece of fabric usually needs to be folded all kinds of goofy ways to get everything to work correctly. Not sure if you can do that with a walking foot which would probably help with the stretch.

    Good luck!

  4. #4
    Super Member dakotamaid's Avatar
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    This is how I would tackle it. I would cut off about 4 inches to start with. Than measure up from the floor all the way around to where she wants it. Than I would fold up at the hemline at that point and baste with large stitches at the very edge of the hem. Now cut away the rest of the excess leaving about 1/2 inch. Roll the raw edge in and hand stitch. Edge should lay nice and smooth. Just my method, there are others.
    Have a great day sewing and remember to "not sweat the small stuff"!!



  5. #5
    Senior Member trish b's Avatar
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    The best way to hem a dress is to measure from the floor with the garment on the person. I have done alterations for years and this is the best way. Mark the hem where it needs to be, then measure down the width of hem desired and cut off the dress. You may zigzag the bottom edge BEFORE cutting it off. The next step is to blind hem by hand OR hem with your sewing machine with a narrow zigzag (not short). Be sure to use a ballpoint needle or a universal one. Best of luck.

  6. #6
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    If the original hem is straight, measure and mark from the original hemline. If you want to take it up 6 inches, mark it all around at at 5 to give you 1 inch to turn up for hem. If you don't have a serger, I would then fold the extra 1 inch twice to make a 1/2 inch hem and hand stitch the hem.

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    Thanks to all of you for your help and will certainly keep all of your suggestions in mind before starting to work on this dress. I do feel much better now about starting this project. Thanks again.

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    I made all my Mothers clothes and most from Single Knit. I used the puff yardstick to mark the hem, then it is not so hard to hem. I had her wear the dress when I marked it too. It's a half yardstick on a little platform, with white chalk to blow out in a flat mark on the hem line.

  9. #9
    Super Member Donna P's Avatar
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    I just hemmed 4 of them. I marked where she wanted it. Then I used my chalk marker and measured up from the bottom and drew a line all the way around the skirt...then from the line measured under the drawn line 2 " then used my rotary cutter and my 12" long ruler and cut around. Then turned up the hem 1" pressed real good then another 1" pressed again pinned as I pressed this time and then sewed by hand...pressed the last time....it come out great....Not good to use the machine for any part of the hemming......hope all the tips have helped
    Life is short, enjoy every second.

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    Buy a couple of packets of that lacy bias tape, sew all around, then fold the hem and steam in place, be sure to use a pressing cloth(a piece muslin is ok)pin and hand stitch.

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    A lot depends on the style of the garment. How is the hem done now? I think I would copy that style as closely as I could.

    Many knits are finished with a single turned hem.
    Last edited by bearisgray; 07-13-2014 at 09:02 AM.

  12. #12
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I like the idea of the lacy bias tape. Reduces bulk in the hem. I think there is a stretch lace that might work well too, especially if the skirt is cut larger on the bottom. You can stretch the lace lightly as you sew it to the hem so that, when you turn the hem, it is very slightly gathered for where you hand sew.

    The biggest problem I see is not stretching the skirt edge when sewing on the tape. I have never been successful in getting knit fabrics to not stretch when sewing the edge on my machine. It probably helps if you can reduce the presser foot pressure on your machine; it's not adjustable on mine.

    Once you cut off the hem, you will want to do some practice work on the cut-off edges to make sure you can do what you need to do without stretching the jersey. Since you are cutting off so much, you should have plenty to practice on. If the knit fabric is stretched during sewing, steaming will probably not be enough to restore it to its original size; the stitching will keep it stretched.
    Last edited by Prism99; 07-13-2014 at 09:06 AM.

  13. #13
    Super Member donna13350's Avatar
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    Also..don't forget to use a ball point needle...or one especially made for stretch knits..otherwise you'll get runs in the fabric.
    As others have said..measure and mark with chalk first..cut, then practice on your cut pieces and you'll be okay! Just remember to not push or pull the fabric as it feeds, it is very stretchy and will warp like crazy if you do. I used to make my daughter's skating dresses, and before I got a serger did them on a regular home machine with just a blind hem stitch..not the ideal setup, but it will work.

  14. #14
    Senior Member gmcsewer's Avatar
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    I would try to mimic the hem that is on there now. Serging the edge and then turn up and with a very narrow zigzag turn it up 1/4 inch and stitch. If it is a straight skirt, I would hem it with a hem like a t shirt. Trim it off and leave 1 " to turn under. Then baste the hem. Using a double needle, stitch on the right side so you catch the edge of the hem. This might even look okay on a narrow hem. or a curved one. Do as for the straight skirt, turning it up the 1 inch. Baste hem. Stitch close to the folded edge. Turn to wrong side and trim off the excess between the stitching and the cut edge. Of course I am suggesting machine stitching as my hand hems do not hardly ever look good.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Pat M.'s Avatar
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    Use a Jersey needle, probably a 11 or 12, silk or #60 thread, cut with a pinking shears, hand stitch, BUT sometimes the jersey is OK and will not unravel and all you need to do is cut with dress shears. I have even used double needles for the hem.

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    If you google "hemming a bias cut skirt" you will find numerous tips. Good luck.

  17. #17
    Member beachbug's Avatar
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    Can you take it apart at the waist? Cut it off at the waist, sew it back on. No need to bother with the hem.

  18. #18
    Power Poster solstice3's Avatar
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    If no serger, would a zig zag suffice?

  19. #19
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    Provided the hem is straight and even to begin with, I usually just use my rotary ruler and cutter and cut off 5 of the 6 inches. Then turn under the 1" and press, then use a double needle made for stretch fabric and stitch the hem. Most knit items are hemmed in this manner, tho not all. If you're not sure how to use the double needle or want to check how it will stitch, practice on your cut off piece first. Sometimes you have to lighten the pressure on you're pressure foot to let the fabric feed thru easier.

    Hope this helps.
    Faith

  20. #20
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    The suggestion to practice on the cut off part is a good one.

    When I took Stretch and Sew classes (back in the 1970s) - if we only had a straight stitch machine -

    to LENGTHEN the stitch length and then sew on the stretched fabric. When the fabric was released - then the stitches would just ride on top of the fabric - and would "give" when the fabric was stretched again.

    About the worst thing one can do when sewing on a knit is to use very short length stitches on stretched fabric.
    The fabric can't go back to its "normal" - and the tiny stitches are very hard to pick out.

  21. #21
    Junior Member linken's Avatar
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    Google "Hemming stretch knits Sew for Dough' excellent tutorial, step by step pictures.

  22. #22
    Super Member IBQUILTIN's Avatar
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    All the ideas for measuring are good, and I would use a hemming tape instead of a second fold. That way you will not have any wavy edge from the extra weight of the turn under.

  23. #23
    Super Member IBQUILTIN's Avatar
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    I like all of the measuring ideas, but would zigzag stitch a hemming tape to the bottom edge that would be left raw, turn up the hem and blind hem the tape

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