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HELP! how to “hem” curves?

sewmanyideas | Posted in Gather For A Chat on


i’m new here

i am having a load of trouble with “hemming” items that are curved (ie. bottom of a circle skirt)

how do i do this?? do i have to use facing or something?

i need simple easy-to-understand instructions:)

thanks in advance:)



  1. Teaf | | #1

    Most skirts have a certain amount of curve in the hem; circle skirts just have more. Each section of a circular skirt is like a triangle, with the bottom being the widest; if you are turning up that lower edge, it will be wider than the skirt is where you attach it, so you have to deal with extra fabric. A very narrow hem often works best, as you won't have as much excess, but it may still twist and buckle. Using loose hem stitches can help with this problem, but you may need an additional step:

    If you want to have a smoother or deeper hem on a circular skirt, you will have considerable excess fabric, so you'll need to gather it to take up the fullness is evenly. Run a long basting stitch close to the edge of the fabric, then pull it to gather the hem until it lies flat and matches the skirt. Press the skirt from the wrong side to avoid imprinting these gathers on the right side and keep your hem stitches relatively loose.

    Especially with very long hems, it's a good idea to gather halves or quarters of the hem separately so that you can control the gathers without putting too much strain on the thread. Nothing is more frustrating than to have your 84-inch thread break at the last moment!

    1. sewmanyideas | | #2

      um...i'm really confused

      i actually have to gather the bottom of the skirt? and then what? fold it in and sew it?

      is there an easier way?


      sorry to be a bother:)

      1. FitnessNut | | #3

        Yes, there is an easier way. Are you referring to a circle skirt specifically and did you want to machine or hand hem it? Do you want to be able to lengthen it at some future date? I can give you directions for a machine sewn baby hem that can be used on any curved hem, if you like, but it can't be lengthened later, so it is best to establish the length before sewing. However, if you want a deeper hem allowance, you do have to ease in that extra length....not advisable on a circular hem or anything with a great deal of fullness.

        1. sewmanyideas | | #4

          doesnt have to be a circle skirt specifically--i'm having trouble with all round hems

          another example is a khimar..it's a long scarf type garment that muslim women wear...from this pattern : http://www.modestclothes.com/patterns_files/shortkhimar.htm

          and i want to machine hem (though if doing it by hand will save my sanity i'll try it) :)

          i dont care about lengthening it, no.

          1. FitnessNut | | #6

            One method of dealing with a curved hem is to do what Suesew suggests, serge, turn and topstitch. The other method is called a baby hem and completely done on your sewing machine. Cut your garment with a 5/8" hem allowance. Sew 1/2" from the raw edge to control the fabric and provide a guide - neither stretch nor ease the fabric. Fold the hem to the wrong side on the stitching line and edgestitch close to the fold. Trim close to the stitching, holding the fabric taut. Fold up again, enclosing the raw edge, and stitch on top of the previous stitching. Press. The finished width of the hem depends on how close to the edge of the fabric you stitch and how close to the stitching you trim, usually about 1/8". Don't trim too close or it will fray and come apart. One book I have recommends that you anchor the hem under the presser foot to help hold the fabric taut while trimming. You may need to practice this technique on scraps until you are comfortable with it.Hope this helps. Let us know how you make out.

          2. rekha | | #9

            Your instructions have come at the right time for me, Sandy. I'm sewing a skirt for my daughter using pintucked cord and must get it right if I'm to see her wearing it at all!

      2. Teaf | | #8

        Yes, it's gathering, but it only takes a single line of machine stitching that finishes the raw edge at the same time. Once I've pressed it, and it's lying flat, I can use a machine hemstitch, and it's just as fast as any other hemming.

  2. suesew | | #5

    Do you own a serger? I would serge the bottom raw edge , then press under just the serging for the hem and topstitch the hem in place. Sewing with the hem against the feed dogs helps to feed the tiny excess into the hem so it lays flat.

  3. Elisabeth | | #7

    I have occasionally used purchased single fold bias tape to make an instant faced hem. You can make your own bias tape as well and you can shape bias easily to the hem curve.

    1. SewNancy | | #10

      Yes, I have seen this in the old Sandra Betzina book


  4. DONNAKAYE | | #11

    Audrey Childress taught:

    Ease Plus!  Ease Plus!  Turn up a narrow clean-finished edge (if you don't know how to do clean-finishing, let me know).  Unthread your machine.  Stitch along the clean-finished edge with a short straight stitch, holding your index finger behind the presser foot, releasing at short intervals, all the way around the hem.  This will "bunch" the fibers together.  Re-thread your machine.  You can then hem by hand with whipstitches or even edgestitch or topstitch by machine.

  5. MMsewing | | #12

    Dear Sewmany ideas: did you get an answer that worked for you on the circular skirt? or any curved skirt for that matter?  I use the serger most times, but if your fabric is very fine/thin, you might try this approach as I use/used it just today on chiffon - measure and pin the hem you want to finish.  Sew 1/8" from the folded edge BEFORE you cut away any of the excess hem.  Sew again between the last stitching  and the edge!  VERY Small, yes I know but it works!  Then trim the excess hem to the first stitching.  Then under one more time (hiding the first two rows of stitching) then stitch again on top and you are finished! 

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