Monday, November 15, 2010

Need Sewing Advice! Badly! Hemming Circle Skirt

This weekend I went to my local fabric store and bought 4 and 5/8 yards of purple plaid cotton fabric and a circle skirt pattern. Now that the easy part was over, I knew it would only get more difficult!

Even though I have had a Singer sewing machine for about 6 years, I was too afraid to use it until late this summer. I started out with pillow covers, tablecloths, table runners, and basic curtains. All went okay. I had a few 'bumps in the road,' but overall, I fared well.

Now that I have grown more accustomed to using my machine, I decided to venture into clothing. I decided on a very simple circle skirt design. The skirt pattern was easy to cut out and the sides were easy to sew. Come to think of it, even the waistband was easy! But I had to stop making this skirt because I realized I may be in over my head! It was the dang hem! The hem is circular, hence the "circle" in skirt, therefore I am unable to make a normal hem.  If I do a straight hem, the edges are going to look warped.

After trying to research the "best avenues of approach," I found myself even more bewildered! Some sites suggest bias tape, rolled hems, roll foot presser feet, grosgrain ribbon, etc. I am SO confused! I have no idea how to finish this skirt.

So, if any vintage-loving seamstress out there can help me out, I would be forever in her debt! Any suggestions would be so so appreciated!


  1. Press the hem down before you sew it so you can see where the material is bunching the most. This will allow you to redistribute the material a bit when you hem so you won't see it on the outside. There will be some overlap inside, but no one will see it.

    If your material is thick, use a lace hem tape which is thinner. That way the overlap on the inside won't show bumps.

  2. PS Whenever I am stumped with finishing techniques, I go visit my favorite vintage shop and check out the garments there. It is pretty educational to see how things where done with my own eyes instead of out of a book.

  3. here's a couple of good videos (parts 1 and 2) from Gertie

  4. TartDeco,

    Thank you so much for the tips! My fabric is actually a lighter-midweight cotton. It is not flimsy like linen but it is lighter than standard madras. I will try ironing the hem down. I also read about getting a special rolled hem presser foot but the method that goes with the special attachment looks very imposing! I think I am going to just iron carefully and see where things go from there!

    Thanks so much! I really appreciate it!!

  5. Thanks, Shrinky Inky!! I will be sure to check those out!

  6. Hey there! I hang my circle skirt up for 24 hours before I hem them. This lets the fabric relax into it's new shape and makes it a lot easier to hem. I iron the hem and then I usually hand stitch the hem with a herringbone stitch because it sits better, even though it takes forever. It's worth it in the end.

    I hope that was helpful!

  7. Casey wrote a post with instructions from 1954 on how to make a circle skirt, found here and I've also heard that you should hang circle skirts for several hours to let the material relax before hemming.

    You are going to post pictures once you're finished, right? I love seeing people's creations.

  8. I have to admit that I've never had much luck with hemmer attachments: the hem tends to get more and more wrinkly as you sew (which is honestly always somewhat of a problem). Gertie's tutorials are all great, and admittedly much of what I've learned about sewing, I've learned from YouTube. The internet is the BEST sewing resource out there.
    A few things I would add:
    -Just because the pattern ends at a certain length, doesn't mean that is a length that will look right on you. Make sure you try the skirt on and decide where you want the hem to fall. If you have a petticoat that you want to wear under the it: put it on too. Nothing is worse than hemming the skirt and finding out that your petticoat sticks out at the bottom.
    If you don't have a dress form, you may need to enlist the help of a friend. Marking the hemline like Gertie does will help maintain the natural curve along the edge of the circle skirt.

    -Use a good steam iron! That steam is how you are going to get the extra fullness that happens when you turn up the hem 'eased' in.

    -Don't worry about grosgrain ribbon or bias tape at this point, those are really just aesthetic decisions.

    -If you don't feel like investing in applique scissors like Gertie uses, a small pair of sharp scissors will work just fine (I use my embroidery scissors). You simply have to take your time and cut slower. Stop often and make sure the fabric you don't want to cut (ie, the front of the skirt) isn't getting caught up too.

    Ok, I've written a novel! Hope there's something helpful in all of that!!
    So excited to hear that you've tackled a skirt! Can not wait to see it finished.

  9. Thanks so much, dolls!! All of this information is wonderful! My skirt has been hanging since Sunday evening and I think it is ready to hem. I am going steam my seam and then hand-stitch it. Like Clara Cupcakes stated, it's going to take a long time, but I think the end result will look better in the long run. I have so much to learn! I can feel daunting at times but I know that I will get it!

    I will also be sure to post pictures showing the finished results!

    Thanks again!

  10. oh dear! Its easy once you know how :)

    Simply run a gathering stitch around the edge of the hem.......I use the largest straight stitch I have. Then fold and iron, easing in the fullness using your gather stitch.