An easy way to update an old dress is to shorten it. Dresses can be shortened a bit or cut a few sentimentals for a completely new look. In most dresses, shortening the hem is something you can do on your own. However, there are certain types of dresses that require the touch of a professional tailor.
Part 1 of 3: Getting to Know the New Hems
Step 1. Take a dress that is the length you want
Using a dress that is the exact length you want your old dress to be is an easy way to get great results. Check your closet for a dress that is the right length to use as a guide.
Look for dresses that are similar in cut to yours. For example, if the skirt section of your dress is A-shaped, find another dress with an A-shaped skirt that can be used as a guide
Step 2. Measure the length if you don't have the dress as a guide
If you don't have a dress of the length you want, you can also wear it and use a sewing tape to get the length you want. Do it while standing. Extend the tape measure from your original waist to where you want the hem to be, then mark the length with chalk. Then, repeat this from the beginning with the same measurements.
If a friend can help, you can also ask them to help. Measuring a dress while wearing it can be difficult
Step 3. Draw the hem line
Once you've decided on the desired length, you'll need to create a new hem line on the dress. If you're using the dress as a guide, stretch it over the longer dress and use chalk to line the hem of the shorter dress. If you chalk up the dress when it's worn, you can simply connect the marks.
If you are using another dress as a guide, make sure both dresses are aligned at the shoulders. This will help ensure the new hem will be the same size as the hem on your other dresses
Step 4. Measure 2.5 cm from the line for the remaining seam
You will need to cut the new hem slightly shorter than the chalk line you made on the dress. This is because you will be folding the fabric up and sewing it to cover the messy edges of the fabric. To leave room to fold the hem, measure 2.5 cm from the line you made on the dress and draw a new, parallel line using chalk.
Mark the distance from the line in several different places to make sure the lines are parallel
Part 2 of 3: Creating New Seams
Step 1. Cut along the second line with scissors
After marking the fabric, cut along the remaining seam to remove excess fabric. Make sure to cut along the marked line, and not inside or outside. Cut as evenly as possible using scissors.
Step 2. Fold the fabric inward and attach the safety pins
Next, you need to secure the seams of the fabric behind the dress using safety pins. Fold about 1.5 cm of fabric inward so that the frayed edges of the dress line up with the chalk line made along the hem. Pin the edges around the dress.
Step 3. Sew around the edges
After pinning the edges, you will need to sew around the edges of the fabric to secure the hem. Make straight stitches along the folded edge to tighten the hem. Make sure you sew through both layers of fabric to tighten any messy edges on the inside of the dress.
- Remove the safety pins while sewing.
- When you're done sewing the hem, trim off the excess thread and try on your new short dress!
Part 3 of 3: Getting the Best Results
Step 1. Consider the difficulty of the project
You may be able to make the hem of most dresses yourself as long as they are simple designs with easy-to-manage fabrics. However, some dresses can be difficult to hem on your own. Dresses that are made of delicate fabrics, have sequins, are fairly wide, or have multiple layers can be difficult to hem. For dresses with a challenge like this, consider paying a seamstress.
You might also consider using a round hem for a delicate fabric or a wide skirt
Step 2. Ask a friend to help you
If you're using an existing dress as a guide, you shouldn't bother trying it on. However, if you want to make sure the dress will look good on certain parts of your body, you need to try and measure it. It's easier to get the right measurements to shorten your dress if you have someone to help you, so try asking a friend for help.
Step 3. Iron the hem before sewing
To make sure the hem will be flat and even, you may need to flatten it with an iron. To iron the hem, secure it with a safety pin, then remove the pins one at a time to iron each section of the hem. Reattach the safety pins when you have finished ironing each section.