All you need to know to hem fluttery fabrics

All you need to know to hem fluttery fabrics …

Oh, the fun of all things summer! Cookouts, lemonade, flip flops and lightning bugs. There’s something almost magical about it. And the weddings, lots of weddings, with laces and chiffons and all the fluttery fabrics.  Somehow, they’re both elegant and carefree all at the same time. Until you have to figure out the best way to hem fluttery summer fabrics, then it can be a little scary!

all you need to know

I have to admit, last month I was given a chiffon wedding gown to hem and even after all the years of rolled hems and alterations, I was a bit nervous that I would mess it up somewhere. Good thing there’s no pressure when it’s pretty much the most important dress a girl will wear!

My big concern was that the hem would try to roll out as I’ve had them do in the past when I used my rolled hem foot. I was so excited with this method that I’ve since used it to hem a knit cardigan and it worked like a charm. This weekend I have the honor of witnessing this sweet bride and her new husband make their wedding vows, So today seems like the right day to share the hard-learned tips I’ve discovered along the way.

A rolled hem without a rolled hem foot

If you’re fortunate enough to have a rolled hem foot, then you know how easy it is to make a small hem for napkins, handkerchiefs and the like. But a narrow hem on an A-line chiffon gown is a different story. Even when you’re extremely careful, there will be missed spots and then the tendency for the finished hem to try to roll out. It’s not pretty y’all!

So, when it comes to chiffon and other lightweight fabrics, or even uncooperative knits, there’s an almost fail-proof way to create a narrow hem.

It does take a little more time than using a rolled hem foot, but once you try it but, you’ll be so pleased with the results and the simplicity of it that you may find yourself searching for other things to finish with a narrow hem. Seriously!

Pinning the Hem

Mark a line about 3/8” – 1/2” below your new hemline and fold your fabric under on that line. (Fyi – some of these pictures are for the slinky underlining on a chiffon gown)

pinned hem
Hem turned up tot he new hemline + 1/2″ and pinned.

You can lightly press it, using a low setting and a handkerchief over your fabric to ensure that you don’t burn the chiffon.

pinning between seam lines
Once you’ve pinned the hem at the seam lines, begin dividing the hem between seam lines to evenly distribute the hem.
hemming an A-line skirt
If your skirt is A-line, you’ll want to mark the base of the hem and further up the skirt to ensure you are not shifting the fabric and creating a crooked hem.
dividing hem in hal
Continue dividing sections of the skirt to turn up the hem as consistently as possible.

The pink tape around the seam gauge was my own reminder of how much I wanted to turn up the hem. It’s a quick help when the seam gauge slider is missing or the hem is too deep to use the slider.

hem divided in fourths
Continue dividing until the hem is secured enough to not slip around during the hemming process.
Stitching the Hem

1/8" hem

Next, stitch 1/8″ – 1/4″ from the folded edge, as close as possible without going off the edge of the fabric.

narrow hem
Take your time to stitch as close and consistent as possible.
narrow trim hem
Once you have stitched all the way around your fabric, fold out the fabric below the hem and trim it 1/8’ – 1/4” from the stitching line.

TAKE YOUR TIME on this step. You want to trim as close as possible, being careful not to clip the fabric above the seam line.

2nd stitch narrow hem
Now, just fold your fabric under one more time and stitch close the free edge.
no backstitch
Unlike most hems, DO NOT back stitch and the beginning and end of your stitching line.

Instead, pull the top threads from the first and last stitches to the back of your fabric and tie them off.  This way you won’t even have the visual bulk of extra stitching on your finished hem.


Hopefully, my rolled hem mistakes over the years will help save you a bit of time and frustration when you need to make a rolled hem without a rolled hem foot.

About Beth Moore

A Christ-follower, wife, mom to 4, lifestyle blogger, seamstress and seeker of daily glimpses of God's grace and redemption.

2 thoughts on “All you need to know to hem fluttery fabrics

  1. Beth, You are courageous sewing wedding gowns!! There is nothing you can’t do! Read it and studied the photos and learned so much! Thank you for sharing your creative crafts and sewing tips! My heart!! Love!

    1. It was a bit terrifying, but I was so excited to find this way to hem without the special foot. And when I had no issue with the hem rolling out or missed spots, it seemed like a great tipi to share – glad you enjoyed it!

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