Letting out a Hem

Posted by Abigail Quist on

We've partnered up with Jenny Gordy, the talented designer, pattern maker, and all around lovely person from Wiksten to bring you a tutorial that will help increase the longevity of your kids clothes. This is a key part of our philosophy at ARQ, and we hope it will inspire you to rethink whether or not it's time to give up on a garment. We believe that a simple, deliberate lifestyle with fewer, better things makes time and space for richer experiences and deeper relationships. Don't be intimidated if you are a non-sewer! Making small adjustments to well made clothes can be so satisfying. This is a great beginner project. Just go slow, read Jenny's instructions carefully, and don't be afraid to ask for help! (And if you have no interest, by all means ask your mom/aunt/husband to do it! Just be sure to bring them a treat in return!) 
This tutorial is perfect for our straight hemmed dresses, (we always make sure to design a deep hem so you can add a few inches), but will work for any garment that has enough fabric to add a bit of length. 
    + Letting Out a Hem +
Kids grow so fast, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't have nice clothes.  The Camp Dress was designed for longevity, with a 3" deep hem that can be let out as a child grows.  It's pretty simple to do, and we'll show you how.
Materials needed: scissors, seam ripper, seam gauge or see through ruler, and (not pictured) iron, pins, needle and matching thread.  Optional: thimble.
Start by using a seam ripper to rip out the hem gently, working on the inside of the garment.  Slide the sharp part of the seam ripper underneath a stitch to break it, careful not to rip the fabric.  Break a stitch every inch or so all the way around the hem.  You should be able to pull the thread on the right side of the dress out easily now.  Remove stray threads on the inside.
Use an iron to press the hem creases out of the skirt bottom.
Set the seam gauge to 3/4" or twice the width you'd like the seam to end up.  Use the seam gauge to measure as you fold the raw edge up 3/4" all the way around the skirt, pressing with an iron as you go.
Tuck the raw edge under to meet the crease you just made, pressing and pinning all the way around the skirt.
Skip to the next step if you have a sewing machine.  If you don't have a machine, you'll sew the hem by hand.  Thread the needle with a long length of thread and double knot the end of the thread.  Secure the thread to the hem with a couple of tiny stitches.  Working right to left on the inside of the skirt, start with the needle coming up through the edge of the fold.  Make a tiny stitch (grabbing just one or two threads of the fabric) right behind the fold where your needle came out, securing the fold to the skirt.  Move the needle 1/4" to the left of your stitch and come up through the top edge of the fold again.  Repeat the process around the whole hem, securing the thread with tiny stitches and a knot at the end.
If you have a sewing machine you can edgestitch the hem fold to the skirt, sewing 1/16" to 1/8" from the top edge of the fold.
Voila! Longer dress. Happy kiddo. 
-Jenny xx

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  • This is such a lovely idea!! I like to sew litte dresses for my daughter & will definitely be adding this concept to my future creations! Your style & shop is truly beautiful. Keep up the great work!

    Hannah on

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