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Need sewing help

SuzieMouse | Posted in General Sewing Info on


I am new to this … my name is Sandy and I currently live in Idaho where I have my own in home sewing and alterations business.  I have a knitted dress which my customer want to be shortened 2 3/4″ maintaining the original hem.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to where I can see how to do this?  I am concerned about bulk and stretching as I sew this.

thanks for any help


[email protected]


  1. Josefly | | #1

    Hi, Sandy, I saw that no one had answered you, and though I don't think I can either, I decided to at least welcome you to the forum. I'll bet someone with more experience sewing on knits will be able to give you some answers.But meantime, more information is needed, I think. How will you maintain the original hem? Is there a waistline in the dress that you intend to deconstruct so you can shorten the skirt part? Or is there another horizontal seam in the dress where you can shorten it? Or are you thinking of taking a tuck? Is the skirt full, a-line, flared, straight, or what? What kind of knit fabric is it?Are you looking for an article on sewing with knits? You can do an index search to check for articles in Threads, or you can do an advanced search in this forum, maybe using the words "sewing with knits", to find previous discussions on the topic. You look for "Advanced Search" at the top of the left-hand side of the page where discussion topics are listed.

    1. User avater
      SuzieMouse | | #3

      Hi Josefly,

      Thank you so much for your reply.  Rather than inexperience with sewing I hope my mistake was in not know exactly how to ask for the help I was searching for.  I have sewn for over 30 years, however I have never tried to shorten a knitted item.  The dress is a shift style with a little short vest attached.  It has no waistline seam.  I was considering doing a euro type of hem and possibly twin needle topstitching.  My concern is when sewing the tuck is there a method to keep the knit from stretching.  I think this type of tuck can be done near the finished edge so it would not be horribly noticable.  I was hoping someone might have any other ideas of a way to accomplish this.

      thanks again for your reply.  I hope this helps clarify the question.


      [email protected]

  2. starzoe | | #2

    The thing we all can agree on is that this request is somewhat strange, and comes from a non-sewer for sure. And yes, more information would be helpful.

    1. User avater
      SuzieMouse | | #4

      Hello, starzoe,

      No, I am not a non sewer.  I hope as I said above my challenge was just not know how to ask the question.  I have sewn since I was 11 years old.  So sorry for the inconvience.


      [email protected]

      1. starzoe | | #7

        I am sorry that my question was not as clear as it could have been. I meant that your customer was the non-sewer, to ask you to retain the original hem.

        1. User avater
          SuzieMouse | | #10

          Hi Starzoe,

          Oh dear so sorry for thinking you were thinking I was the non-sewer...I should have realized that you meant the customer.


  3. SAAM | | #5

    Hi Sandy! Welcome! I'm a little confused by what you mean when you say you are going to maintain the original hemline. Can you clarify that? What type of hem does the dress have now? Is it a traditional ~2" turned up hem? A tiny rolled hem?If you're worried about the hem stretching as you sew, you could stabilize the hem area. A lightweight knit interfacing would probably do the job without making the hem too stiff or bulky. It would also give just enough body so the hem hangs smoothly. Also, if you sew the hem by hand, you could catch the stitches in the interfacing so they wouldn't show at all on the right side. Sewing by hand will give you added control over the stretch of the fabric as well.Sherry

    1. User avater
      SuzieMouse | | #11

      Hi SAAM,

      The original hem is like the edge you would do when creating a cuff on a knitted garment.  It is knitted and then bound off.  She definitely does not want a turned up hem with the bulk involved.  You know once in awhile you just get a job that makes you nervous to do.  I think this might be mine


      1. starzoe | | #13

        An accomplished knitter could do probably do this, but it would take time and maybe cost more than your client would want to pay. I have shortened factory knitted sweaters, they never look quite the same, passable, but not like the factory.If the outfit was knitted from the bottom up, it won't voluntarily unravel, but if it was knitted from the top down it would unravel.

        Edited 3/17/2008 7:59 pm ET by starzoe

        1. Ocrafty1 | | #24

          This question is along the same lines as the original. My one BIG failure in alterations was trying to do a hem on an allover sequin gown. I looked at the hem that the mfg. put in, and tried doing it the same way. NOT a happening thing! The hem was the most uneven, wavy thing I'd ever seen. I was soooo embarassed. I was working at a bridal shop, and the owner took over and fixed it, but would not discuss the repair with me. The dress was one of those stretchy, fitted sequin things. I have refused to do hems on them ever since. I wish the owner would have helped me out by showing me how to do it properly, but she was an old, cranky...thing...to everyone who worked for her...Clients thought sugar wouldn't have melted in her mouth...if they only had known....Any suggestions? This is the first time I've admitted to this since it happened (23 yrs ago)...I've never been so embarrassed in my life...in a sewing situation, that is.....LOL


          1. BessieB | | #25

            I have an idea. Cut hem off, it shouldn't ravel. Cut the length from the garment and then with steam a seam put the original hem on over the new length. Be sure to serge the cut edge on the garment and do the gathering stitch. Steam a seam together, pound. and then either hand stitch to finish it off, or machine stitch.
            It's an idea.

          2. starzoe | | #26

            You know what? This job is so iffy I wouldn't take it on. As for using iron-on anything, forget it. The hem would be stiff. As I said before I have shortened sweaters that were machine-knit and although it is sometimes possible to get enough yarn from the piece that is cut off, it will be in short strands.Don't feel embarrassed about turning a job down. There are some jobs that are impossible and this particular client would have an almost impossible time finding someone who would tackle it. It would be different if you had some extra same-type knitware to practice on, you could most likely, with experimenting, come up with a good solution.

          3. User avater
            SuzieMouse | | #27


            I just want to thank everyone once again for all the input on this hem.  I spoke to a friend this afternoon and was able to show her the dress.  Now what I was thinking of as a band of sorts on the bottom of the dress is something she told me is when they turn back around with the knitting machine and go back over the work.  At least that is how I understood it.  She suggested serging the length off while also attaching a narrow piece of easy knit.  Then press with a pressing cloth and guess what you guys... it looks almost the same as the original hem!!!  This thing was truely giving me gray hair. lol

            Starzoe,  I wholeheartely agree about turning some jobs done and not feeling guilty about it... now to get that from my head and into practice more often!

            I will try to take a picture tomorrow of before and after to see what you think.



  4. katina | | #6


    You say it's a knitted dress? Do you mean it's made from a knit fabric, or is it quite literally handknitted?


    1. User avater
      SuzieMouse | | #9

      Hi Katina,

      The dress is I believe done on a factory type of knitting machine.  It looks very much like a long knitted sweater you would buy in the stores.  It has a more dense, edge which is what the customer wants to retain.  I have folded the edge up the same as you would do for the euro hem and then I was thinking of cutting the seam to eliminate the bulk and twin needling on the top like topstitching.  My biggest concern is will the knit ravel alot after being cut.  Sheesh I wish I had an old sweater to practice on...I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist.. ;)

      I do have a digital camera but don't know how to post pictures.  Would I have to upload them to somewhere to post then on here?

      thanks once again for your input.


      [email protected]

      1. BessieB | | #12

        The knit shouldn't ravel after you cut it. But I am thinking it will be very difficult to retain the original hem unless you shorten from the waist. Can you do that? What is the fiber content?

        1. User avater
          SuzieMouse | | #14


          If I shorten the dress from the waist I would have to create a waistline that it does not have.  Is this what you meant?



          1. BessieB | | #17

            Oh right, it's a dress. The proper way to shorten this as was stated before is an experienced knitter that has a machine I would guess. Or...... you could cut the hem. You can serge the cut, it won't ravel. And then put in a new hem. You can pound the hem to crisp it up. You should be able to hard press the fabric, that is why I asked what the fabric content was. Do blind hem stitches or even on the sewing machine and then you can steam in the hem to neaten up the sewing. But you will have to cut the hem. Even an experienced knitter would be looking at quite a chore to try to retain the original hem as was earlier stated. So it would be helpful to know the fiber content.

          2. BessieB | | #18

            You can press and steam wool. It holds and returns to it's shape quite nicely. Also with do a hard press with steam.

      2. katina | | #22

        Hello Sandy

        A picture would really be of great help. I knit by hand and machine, so a pic would make it very clear what needs to be done. See if you can figure out how to post one. I'm sure we can all put our heads together and find you a solution.



      3. Ocrafty1 | | #23

        To post a pix, You must save it to your computer...say in as a jpeg file in My pictures. When you get ready to post it, you start just as a usual post, but at the bottom of the post page(scroll down if you have to) is a button that says 'attach files'; click on it...it brings up another window...

        Click on Browse and choose the area on your computer that you saved the pic in (My Pictures?) Choose it and it will let you choose the picture you want. Then click on the 'Upload' button. It will tell you when it is uploaded...then click on Done, and continue with your post. It will show/have the attachment at the bottom of your new post.  Its really easy.

        I'm pretty new to this site, too...and I absolutely love it!


  5. BessieB | | #8

    This knit skirt, what brand is it? Is it like a St John's knit? Can you post a picture of the skirt and hem?

  6. Digi | | #15

    If you are concerned about the knit fabric stretching as you sew it, how about using a dissolvable stabilizer?  That would work, even if the fiber is wool.  Or you could use a walking foot when sewing the seam. 

    As to using a double needle:  I've found that using a firm stabilizer works quite well in keeping the two seam lines from pulling up into a ridge.  And frankly, you could use a couple of these ideas together to complete your project.

    If none of these ideas help, perhaps they can be used as a spring board for other gals to come up with something that will work better.  After all, brain-storming usually results in a good solution for most any challenge.  And finally: Welcome!

    1. User avater
      SuzieMouse | | #16


      Thanks so much for your reply... I like the stabilizer idea.  This is a wool knit.

      Also, thanks to everyone, it helps to be able to discuss with all of you!!  I am glad I came here.


      1. Digi | | #19

        You are most welcome, Sandy.  Also, I was thinking about one of the other gals suggestions re taking it up at the waste so your client's request that the original hem be left in tact.  You might want to ask her if she would be willing to explore this idea and if her answer is yes, it could easily be done; either with a noticeable waste line on the garment and adding a lovely belt, or simply using a very narrow elastic below where the current waistline would hit, which would make the top part of the dress be a bit blousing.  Just a thought.

        1. Ralphetta | | #20

          If the customer didn't mind blousing and a an elastic waistline there would probably be no need to change the hem. Wouldn't that take up the excess length?

          Edited 3/17/2008 10:08 pm ET by Ralphetta

          1. Digi | | #21

            Yes, I suspect it would ...depending on how much shorter she wanted it.  If she wanted it shorter than just the blousing would take up, this could also be accomplished by cutting the top and skirt apart, and still adding the elastic along with sewing the top and skirt back together. 

            Either way would probably work.  It is difficult to resolve the issue without seeing the dress.  Still ...perhaps some of our suggestions might be helpful.

  7. DonnaCouture | | #28


    See if its possible to shorten from the top.  Also, use a stabilizing tape to keep it's shape before taking it apart or altering it.



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