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Tutorial: Hemming a full skirt (with the help of your serger)

Ah, the full skirt – so beautiful, but so annoying to hem!  Whether you are having to ease in the fullness with a deeper hem, or trimming and burning your fingers with a baby hem, I wasn’t sure there was a good solution.  I read a tip somewhere to use a serger to make the turning easier, and I developed this method.  It’s so quick and easy in comparison! The finish on this method is pretty much the same as a baby hem.  A serger is required for this method.  Any serger will do!  Mine is a Brother 1034D, a model which is often under $200 (I bought mine off craigslist for $80.)  I cannot recommend owning a serger enough, because there are so many little shortcuts like this one!

You should leave about a 3/4″ hem allowance for this method, though that is customizable by trimming more with the serger.    You do not have to trim while serging, but I find that I get a more even row of stitching that way.  Set your serger for a 3 thread overlock stitch, and make sure to test some swatches – the row of serging will be the depth of your hem, and you should aim for between 1/8″ and 1/4″.  After you’ve set your serger, I like to begin taking a snip in my hem 1/4″ up.  I will be trimming 1/4″ off my hem while serging, and I find it easier to get started this way, if the skirt is joined in a circle.

Take your skirt to the serger, and serge off 1/4 inch all the way around the hem.

Press your serging flat to set the stitches.

Now we are going to fold the hem.  Place your skirt on the ironing board, with the right side facing up.  You are going to turn the serged edge under and press it in place.  It should fold very easily along the serging.  Make sure you have the fabric RS up – it’s much harder to do this WS up, because it doesn’t stay in place as well.

After you have pressed under the entire hem, turn your skirt inside out.  Now you are going to press in the second fold, with the WS facing up.  Turn up the fabric, making sure to tuck the edge all the way into the fold – otherwise, you might miss a layer when sewing the hem.  

Don’t use any pins, which can cause bumps.  Instead, use your fingers to make sure the hem is still tucked under as you feed it through the machine, wrong side up.  I’m sewing about 1/8″ from the edge. (If your fabric won’t hold a crease, you will have to pin.  Just be sure to remove the pins before they get close to the foot!)  This is a good time to use your straight stitch plate, if you have one (I don’t have one on this machine, so I’m using a regular zigzag foot and plate.)

Press and admire your pretty hem!

I find that hems sewn this way have a nice amount of stiffness, due to the extra thread, and hold their shape nicely without a crinoline. Please let me know if you have any questions, or if anything seems unclear!