Creative articles about sewing

How to let out hems to save trousers that are too short

Do you remember my tutorial for sewing blind hems? I showed you how to sew them on my Marlene trousers that I blogged about on my personal sewing blog.

Well, there was one problem with the trousers: they were my first pair in the Marlene style, even my first wide-legged trousers! Generation skinny jeans here, although I have fallen out of love with tight jeans years ago. Due to my lack of experience with wide-legged trousers, I wasn’t sure what length was “correct” for me. I am not tall, and I couldn’t decide what length suited me the most.
While trying different lengths in the mirror, I had the tight jeans in mind, and I chose a length I was used to. After completing the hem, I was pleased.

However, when I looked at outfit pictures I took for the blog, I felt that the hem was too short. I wrote about this in the blog post and many of my readers agreed that the length is tricky, especially if you don’t have someone to pin it. I felt vindicated to let out the hem.

Sigh! Does anyone hate alterations, like me? I just wanted to get over with it, because every time I wore the trousers, I could only think about them being slightly too short and feeling self-conscious.

Today, I want to share my process of letting out hems with you – nobody will notice!

Letting out hems – but within the bounds of possibility

Anyone that does alterations knows: they can only be done within the bounds of possibility. You can’t make a dress three sizes bigger or three sizes smaller. You can’t lengthen a skirt that’s 10 cm too small with hem allowances alone and without adding something.
So when letting out hems, you can only work with what you’ve got. Because of this, I always leave 5 cm hem allowance – plenty to let out if need be!
Of course, you can sew a piece of fabric to the hem to lengthen it. But sometimes, you just want hems to look literally seamlessly and as if made from one piece. That’s what we’ll be doing today.

Things to consider when letting out hems

If the clothing item has been worn a couple of times, you might notice some signs of wear. The hem could be scuffed or discoloured. When you let the hem out, this hem line could be noticable.

Take a look at the hem to decide if letting the hem out is worth it. If the hem is severely scuffed, you could use a trim to cover it up – if this matches the style of the garment.

If you want to let the hem out, unpick the seam and press the hem flat. A lot of steam can help to remove the former pressed hemline.

Measure the width of your hem all around. You now need to cut two rectangles – the length is your measurement plus seam allowance. Choose the height according to how much allowance you want your hem to have – I always opt for 5 cm. Add a seam allowance, because you’ll be sewing the rectangle to the hem.

It’s best to use a fabric that closely resembles the original fabric in colour and quality, if you don’t have leftovers of the actual fabric of the garment.

Serge the rectangles all around.

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Close the short seams and press open. Next, sew the long side to the hem of your garment.

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I then trimmed the seam to avoid bulks. To get a crisp finish, I understitched the new hem allowance by stitching the seam allowances onto the rectangle I just added to the hem.

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Press the hem. The understitching will prevent the added piece from showing on the outside.

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Fold the added rectangle to the left side. It now acts as an extra hem allowance that you can finish with your preferred method, like a blind hem.

Used Products:
bernette 38
bernette 38

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