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Hem for silk circle skirt

jenenne | Posted in General Discussion on

I’m making one of those fabulous Butterick retro patterns from the 50’s with a circle skirt, floor length.  I’m using a silk chiffon underlined with a silk broadcloth (softer, but about the weight of dupioni). I’ll probably line with silk charmeuse or china silk, whichever I can find that has a good color.  I’d like advice on the skirt though.  Normally one would baste all of the pieces together and treat them as one, but with the different fabrics and so much of the skirt actually on a bias, what do you all think?  Leave the layers undone at the bottom?  My plan is for a rolled hem on the chiffon, and a bias cut band on the underlining directly under the chiffon, and then a rolled or narrow him on the lining.  I’m open for advice though, and am still fitting my muslin before I actually cut.  Thanks for any and all suggestions.


  1. mygaley | | #1

    Yes, I would hem the layers separately.  On the chiffon (top) layer, please consider a machine stitched narrow hem.  I find them neater and less noticeable than hand-rolled hems.  Also, I would suggest that you use horsehair braid in the lining hem.  This skirt deserves to sway and flow.  Can't wait to see a picture.  God bless you Galey

    1. jenenne | | #4

      What a great idea about the horsehair.  I was thinking about a separate slip, or "underpinning" as Claire Schaeffer says, but the horsehair is a better idea I think.  Thanks so much.

      1. Char9 | | #8

        I'm a newbie to this forum and your post really caught my interest.  I live about 20 minutes from Philadelphia's historic Fabric Row.  Yeah, I know, I am really lucky!  Anyway, I took a friend over there the other day to introduce her to the Row.  We went into Marmelstein's Trimmings where I showed her the horsehair and told her I like to face the hems of gathered bed skirts (I also put it around the hem of my wedding dress.)  The saleslady heard me talking about it and she said, "Oh, that is so couture!" 

        Letting the skirt hang for a few days and then facing the outer layer with horsehair is a great idea.  For the underlayers I would do a rolled hem.  How couture!  LOL! 

        1. user-51823 | | #10

          ooo lucky you!
          how wide can you find horsehair braid? i am trying to find the wide stuff you see some special occasion hats made from.

          1. Char9 | | #11

            Hi msm-s!

            Well, I didn't measure it but I'll take a guess at the widths I saw.  1/2", 4" and 6 or 8".  Don't know if they have any wider or not but if you need it wider there are other stores that sell millinery supplies.  Also, all the widths came in white or black.

  2. user-51823 | | #2

    i totally agree; separate layers looks gorgeous with these fabrics. if you don't want the underlayers peeking out, just graduate them shorter than the previous.
    because, as you say, the circle will be on the bias in places, and silk chiffon on the bias is so "liquid", be sure to hang the otherwise finished skirt for a few days before hemming to let the bias areas fall and find their level. also be sure to be wearing the skirt when you mark the hem. ditto, want to see pictures! what are the colors?

    1. jenenne | | #3

      The chiffon is a watermelon pink, and the backing sort of taupe, so that it softens the chiffon into a paler watermelon. I think it will be gorgeous.  I'll try and post a picture when it is done, and thanks for the advice.

  3. Teaf5 | | #5

    This skirt sounds gorgeous!On a long circle skirt of flowy fabric, hem each layer separately, and make each hem as minimal as you can. Any turn-up on a full circle is going to be markedly wider than the skirt is where you will attach it; even a narrow, rolled hem will have a lot of excess fabric on the inside. I think there was a fairly recent Threads article on sewing with sheers that recommended a trimmed, unturned, narrow zigzag as the hem finish. It's weightless, and you won't have to deal with taking up all the excess on the inside.

    1. krichmond | | #6

      The skirt sounds wonderful.  I have never made skirt that long, but I did a knee-length 3/4 circle bias-cut skirt  in a rayon challis a while back.  It was my first project with bias so I read every article I could get my hands on.   Hanging the garment (before hemming) to relax the bias for a minimum of one day is standard.  Some articles recommend attaching hem weights; I used wooden clothespins clipped on every 3 or 4 inches, hung for a day or two, unclipped the pins and continued hanging for another day. 

      Then I recruited my husband (his mom was a seamstress) to assist with marking the hem (with a stand-up hem marker).  Be sure to wear the shoes (or similar height heels) you plan to wear with the skirt. 

      I have seen a technique for hemming skirts in lightweight fabrics that seemed to work very well (although I have not tried it) that may work with chiffon.  Mark the hem length all the way around the skirt.  Stitch about 1/8 inch below this mark.  Trim off the excess below the stitching as evenly as possible (somewhere between 1/8 and 1/16 of an inch).  Turn up hem just above line of stitching and press.  Turn up again and press (press line should be right at desired hem length).  Stitch hem all the way around.  Threads had a recent tip that outlined this same technique except that it suggested using fusible thread in the bobbin for the first line of stitching.  I have never used fusible thread but it sounds quite workable.  I would suggest trying the hem technique on a scrap fabric piece (bias-cut) to see if it might work with the skirt.

  4. dressed2atee | | #7

    I usually do a narrow rolled hem using a serger threaded with wooly nylon in the loopers.  I turns out beautifully.

  5. wlric | | #9

    I am not sure if this will suit your needs, but here is an idea. I made a wedding dress with a 3 layer circle skirt of similar weight fabrics. After weighting and hanging the skirt I evened the hem. Then, just attached trim to the cut hem. One layer had a narrow organza ribbon trim, another had an even more narrow satin ribbon trim, and the top layer had a very narrow embroidered (3/8")lace trim which matched the trim that was at the neckline. I applied each trim with a narrow zigzag stitch on top of the raw edge and then trimmed the edge close to the stitching. It gave the skirt a feminine look.
    What is the pattern number of your skirt?

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