Thursday, October 3, 2013

Altering a bridesmaid's dress: How to Sew a Machine Rolled Hem

Yesterday I talked about the Craftsy class, Tailoring Ready-to-Wear, taught by Angela Wolf. There is a great lesson on hemming skirts, and I definitely needed it! I was in a wedding last weekend, and the bridesmaid's dress I bought was originally way too long. Thanks to this class, I spared myself a trip for alterations (not to mention some $$!) and did it myself! Angela called this technique a "rolled hem" which I previously thought applied to serger hems, but I guess it can mean two things?

I'm the one on the end holding two bouquets.

The dress was about 4 inches too long. I think almost all the bridesmaids had to have their dresses hemmed. To figure out how much to remove, first put on the shoes you intend to wear with your dress. This wedding and reception were outdoors, and the bride was fine with us wearing flats. I put on the shoes and found a box to stand on, and then had my husband put in safety pins around the skirt.

No, it's not the most exact method, but it worked for me. I measured at each safety pin and made a general assessment of how much to cut off. Then I went around and marked that amount on the entire skirt. Actually, I did it twice, because there was an outer layer of chiffon, and an inner layer of satin.

I used a soap sliver for marking.

I started with the underlayer, which is made of polyester satin. I figured it would be best to start with the least-visible part! First, press a distinct line on your marks, where you want the hem to rest.

It's important to press a good line here. Test your fabric in an inconspicuous spot and/or use a press cloth. Next, take the whole mess over to the sewing machine.

With the right side facing up, slightly roll the crease outward. The photo above shows the line I originally marked and pressed. The fold of the fabric is on the right. Sew in the middle of the portion you rolled, just below the pressed line.

This is how it will look. The 4" I need to remove are in the bottom portion of this photo. Next comes the scary part: cutting it off!

Cut beneath the stitching line you just sewed. For the final step, roll the narrow hem to the wrong side along your pressed line. Sew again. This step encloses the raw edge you cut in the previous step.

Can you tell which is which? One of these hems is the original, the other is the one I sewed. Looks pretty good to me!

I repeated the process on the overlayer of chiffon (my first time working with chiffon...yikes!) using the same measurement (4") as on the underlayer. It got a bit wonky in the back and my chiffon ended up too short. Do as I say and not as I do: double check your work before sewing! It wasn't too noticeable and nobody takes photos of bridesmaids from behind (at least I hope not...). The wedding was beautiful, great weather, and my husband and I enjoyed our first night away from AB since she was born. I was very grateful that I could do this alteration on my own, there's nothing better than fixing a problem yourself!

It's Thrifty Thursday! The V-Neck Cardigan pattern is on sale for $4 today only! Head over to Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop to pick up a copy.


  1. This is a great tutorial, I could have used it a couple of months ago hemming a thin silk dress. Thank you!

    1. You're welcome! Of course now that I've done it this way, I'd love to get my hands on a special blind hem foot :)


I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment below.

Newsletter sign up