Creating a Beautiful Shirt HemFive methods for finishing a shaped, or curved, shirt hem
Since shirttails are usually tucked into pants and not visible, how important is the shirt hem? My answer: very!
As one of the last steps in the shirtmaking process, hemming is easy to neglect. Having made hundreds of men’s shirts, I know that by the time I am ready to hem, I am often not sewing at my best, and I’m eager to be finished.
I want to share a number of methods I use to achieve the best look possible on the shaped hem of a dress shirt. A straight hem is easy to achieve. Hems with deep curves present challenges, though. Like all fabrics cut on the bias, curves are prone to stretching. Even on ready-to-wear shirts, it’s common to find a wavy, uneven-looking hem. That’s a clear sign the bias edges have been stretched more than they should have been.
Sewing pattern instructions are often vague about how to hem shirttails. They may tell you to fold the bottom edge twice at various widths, but they rarely offer tips to getting a clean result.
Regardless of the method used to finish the hem, a few steps are always necessary. You must check to make sure the front placket (where the buttonholes are placed) and the underlap (where the buttons are attached) are the same length. The placket side (the left side of a men’s shirt, the right side of a women’s) can be 1/8 inch longer since it will be lapped on top, but it must never be shorter. I like to hem the shirt only after the buttonholes are made and the buttons attached.
Quick-and-easy method: serging and turning
I rarely rush through my sewing projects, but occasionally I just…