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Hemming Satin-back Crepe

Susanc22 | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

Hello!  I am new to this forum but have been a Threads magazine subscriber for almost 20 years.  I feel certain that someone here will be able to help me with my question so I am just jumping in today to ask it, even though I’m new. 

I am altering a school choir evening gown; I can cut seams open to make adjustments but not cut fabric, since the gown will be returned to the school at the end of the year.  I had to fold up the hem 9″ (she’s a petite girl) and gather the serged edge to fit, and then I tried very carefully to handstitch the hem but it still has a puckery line on the right side, made uglier by being 9″ up from the hemline and so obvious and out of place.   Is there a better way to hem satin-back crepe so it won’t show on the outside?  The dress is unlined and I haven’t dared press it for fear it will look worse.  Is the puckeriness due to the weight of the wide hem?  Did I pull the thread too tightly?  Do I need interfacing?  Is it just how it goes with satin-back crepe?




  1. suesew | | #1

    I doubt if there is any good way of hemming a dress made of that fabric with a nine inch hem. Before I read your entire question I would have suggested cutting it off , serging the edge and turning it up a half inch and topstitching it. Since you cannot do that, I think you have probably done the best you can do. I regularly am asked to do that kind of thing with choir dresses and I always warn them that the results will not look perfect because of the restrictions. You would think they could have a couple of dresses available just for petite people wouldn't you? I would press the bottom edge gently and not press where you stitched it.

    1. User avater
      Susanc22 | | #3

      I sure wish I could just make a tiny hem at the bottom;  that would be so much nicer looking.  Thanks for the pressing reminder.


  2. meg | | #2

    What about making a temporary partial slip, or lining? You could stitch the hem directly to that.

    1. User avater
      Susanc22 | | #4

      That's a good idea; I'll look in to doing that.  My other thought was possibly adding an interlining just at the hem, in a sort of wide band, thinking that it might help distribute the weight of the hem, if that's what's making it puckery/dimply.

      1. wlric | | #5

        Is there anyway to take it apart at the waist and raise the skirt from there? You end up with additional fabric in that area so depending on the style it may not work.
        So, another thought is this:
        First measure the circumference of the skirt at the level that you will be sewing the hem. Cut a length of 5/8inch grosgrain ribbon equal to this measurement. Make the bottom of the skirt equal to this measurement (as it sounds like you already have, by gathering or making small darts). Divide the ribbon into fourths, mark the skirt bottom into fourths, and sew the grosgrain ribbon to the skirt bottom. This will give you a smooth edge to hem to the skirt. I also like the idea of adding a temporary lining to the skirt to hold the weight of the hem. Whatever method you use, the hem is not going to look like the rest of the costumes. But, it should look fairly good without puckers.

        1. User avater
          Susanc22 | | #6

          The dress has princes seams, but if it had a waistline, I'd be willing to give your clever waistline trick a try.  The grosgrain idea might work.  Are you thinking that the gathers on the hem are showing thru to the right side as puckers?  I hadn't thoght of that, so I need to go look at the dress again.  I appreciate your help!


          1. wlric | | #7

            I was thinking that the hem may be gathered just a bit too much for the placement of the hem. That may pull in the skirt where the hem is sewn. When you reach a comfort level, go ahead and press a small area in the back of the skirt with a press cloth between the iron and fabric. That may be really all that you need.
            Good luck!

            Edited 10/16/2007 8:16 pm by wlric

      2. zuwena | | #8

        Here's an adaptation of your own suggestion.  In the couture world one often uses a band of muslin the width of the hem plus 1inch extending above the hem.  The hem is sewn catch stitch fashion to the muslin.  I think in your case, you migh attach the muslin in two bands, one for the front and the other for the back along the side seams for stability.  Lightly catch stitch it to the skirt bottom and then catch stitch the hem to it.  When catch stitching the muslin it is important to catch only 1 or 2 stitches as you move across from side to side.  When catching the hem to the muslin do what is best and easiest for you.  I fear, however, that the weight of nine inches will pull against the body of the skirt no matter what you do.  Z

        1. User avater
          Susanc22 | | #9

          OK, so you're saying catch stitch the muslin on all four sides to the dress, including along the sideseams and at the fold of the hem?  Or not at the fold?  I can see how that might help distribute the weight of the hem.

          1. zuwena | | #10

            I would do sew the muslin strip in the regular seam along the sides (ie. the short sides of the muslin strip. Along the length of the muslin, which is what goes around the front and the back, is the part that would be catch stitched. I had not thought about doing it along the bottom part of the strip but I think you are right--that might help to redistribute the weight in a manner that makes it doable. In that case I would make the strip wide enough to extend about one and half inches beyond the fold of the hemline in addition to the one inch above the top of the hem. Z

  3. jjgg | | #11

    can you add sort of a lining from the waist down? then you can just sew the hem allowance to the lining. tack the lining to the side seams (on the seam allowance) to help hold it in place.

  4. maggiecoops | | #12

    Back in the 70s I had a dress with a tulip hem. The dress wasn't a princess line but was flared slightly. Inside was a half lining attached to the waist darts, side and centre back seams and elasticated across the front waist between the waist darts. The dress hem was slightly gathered and attached to the inner lining which was shorter. It created the tulip effect. The waist stay carried the weight of the lining and the attached hem in much the same way long gown skirts are supported.

    1. User avater
      Susanc22 | | #13

      You've given me a good idea of how that skirt was sewn- seems like I saw that once myself or had a dress like that, I can't remember.  But I am seeing what you're saying and thinking I may make a wide lining attached as you describe, attach the crepe hem to it, and then to avoid the bubble effect of your tulip hem, sew a tiny hem a the bottom as if it were a normal hem that I actually had trimmed down.  In other words, I'll use the lining attached at the seams to hold the weight of the wide hem, then fake a regular hem at the bottom.  Thanks for the inspiration!  Thank you, all of you, for the inspiration and help!  I knew you would be able to help me!

      Now, I have to pause on that project to work on some Halloween costumes.  It may not require much sewing (throw together something from the dress-up box), but I can't let down the pirate wannabe, and I need to see if the lamb costume will fit the 2-year old, and make sure the Greek goddess will be warm enough if it's still chilly like today on Halloween.  You never know in Texas!

      But I will let you know how the hem turns out ASAP.

      1. Consuelo | | #14

        I think you must sew a lining to the waist... the 9" hem is too much fabric (and weight) to attach to a band of muslin with out any upper support.  Good luck

        1. User avater
          Susanc22 | | #15

          It has princess seams so I will have to make a full lining; no waistband, but it will be anchored at the princess seams to help distribute the weight.  I haven't started tackling it yet, but I am going to see how the band works first before tackling a full lining.  I'll let you know how it works out...

          1. Crazy K | | #16

            I have never done anything like this but an idea just popped into my head as I was reading................rather than a full lining, could you do a half-lining with an elastic waist.......or a band of grosgrain ribbon for a waistband that fastens with a hook and eye like they do for heavy strapless gowns.  The principal would be similar....just that you're supporting the skirt rather than the top....

            Maybe I'm waaaay off base.  Like I said, I've never done anything similar but once in a great while my ideas do work........even tho' they seem off-base at the time! ha ha


          2. Ralphetta | | #17

            I'm afraid that the elastic waistband would make a noticeably visible  indentation at the waistline and distort the smooth princess lines.  I know that even the elastic on pantyhose is often very noticeable.

          3. User avater
            Susanc22 | | #18

            OK, I finally tackled the dress last night and just made a full lining, handsewed it to the facings up at the bust, and sewed the wide hem to the lining.  It looks nice with no puckering on the right side, and no hem at all showing.  I'm glad I tried it; now I have a new skill in my bag of tricks! I was dreading the project with having to make a lining from an exisiting dress, envisioning it not hanging right , etc.    Sometimes it's so hard to take the plunge and just do it when I'm afraid of how it will look in the end. 

          4. Ralphetta | | #19

            Hooray!  I'm glad it worked out for you.

          5. zuwena | | #21

            Congratulations. Z

          6. GailAnn | | #22

            What an absolutely fantastic solution!

  5. amm | | #20

    Hi Susan,

    That's an unusual and challenging problem to say the least!  A 9 inch hem in any garment would be difficult to conceal completely.  Here's what I suggest you try.  Add a lining to the skirt and attach the hem to the lining rather than to the skirt. That way you won't have to worry about the hem stitching on the fashion fabric at all.  You can attach the lining at the waist by hand so that it's easy to rip out when you're done and have to return the garment to its original state.




    1. User avater
      Susanc22 | | #23

      That's pretty much what I did and it worked wonderfully.  Thanks for the help!


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