How To Sew a Partial Hem

There are many instances where you may need to sew just part of a hem. Maybe you have a skirt that is uneven, too long in the front or back, or maybe you have pants with the same problem.

Today, I am going to use this bridal gown to illustrate how to sew a partial hem.

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The bride asked that the entire front edge be hemmed up, but that I should leave the train alone.

So, you’ll need to pin up the amount of fabric on your garment that needs to be raised.

Many times, the transition from front to back is no big deal.

But, sometimes, you’ll be raising four or five inches of the hem and you wonder how to make that smooth transition to the back of the skirt.

In this case, I am not raising the hem too much, but I still need to taper the fabric so that it has a smooth transition front to back.

For most long dresses, I like the front edge of the dress to be one inch off of the floor to give the customer enough clearance to walk without feeling like she is going to trip on her hem.

At the side seams, the hem will almost touch the floor, and then I’ll gradually taper the hem back to the train.

So, to do that, I took out the stitches for about two inches beyond the side seams and into the train area:

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You’ll need to do the same. Take out about two inches of stitches into the hem area that you are not going to alter.

Fold the fabric back along the new foldline and press the new edge:

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Next, press the rest of the hem, taking out pins before you get to them:

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If you look at the photo below, you’ll notice that the underside edge is finished with a serger (the stitching you see on the right) and the right side of the fabric was top stitched (the stitching on the left).

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When I go to finish the hem, I’ll do the same to it.

Take note of how your hem is finished because you’ll want to finish your new hem area the same way that was originally done, if possible. (Sometimes, you can’t duplicate what has been done, but you can come close enough.)

Next, trim off any excess fabric and finish the raw edge.

I used a serger to both trim the edge and serge it. This saved me a step and some time:

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If you serge it and you have the loose thread tails, you can weave them back into the serged edge or tuck them into the hem when you top stitch the hem.

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Now you can see that all I have to do is fold over the finished edge:

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Notice that the transition isn’t really noticeable.

Now, you’ll need to topstitch the edge.

I like to topstitch from the right side of the fabric (hem):

Since the original stitching is really close to the edge, I move my needle all the way to the right and then stitch:

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When you get to the other side at the end of your hem, just meet the original stitching and back stitch to hold it tight.

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This is what the new hem looks like at the side seam:

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Pretend I pressed it before I took the photo!