Making Clothes: Shaped Hem Facing

One of my favorite techniques for hemming skirts is to sew a shaped hem facing. Unlike the more common method of folding up the hem to the wrong side and sewing it in place, a shaped hem facing is a separate piece that is fitted precisely to the hem of the skirt to create a flat and beautifully finished band along the hem. 


Shaped Hem Band: A two-inch wide band finishes the hem of a flared wool skirt. This technique is useful when the main fabric is bulky, as the shaped hem band can be made using a thinner fabric that will not add additional bulk at the hem. 


A shaped hem band works best for flared styles that are difficult to fold up and hem, but the technique can also be used to reduce bulk when the main fabric is thick; to add a design detail by using a contrast color or a fancy trim; and to add shaping or weight by using horsehair braid. 


Shaped Hem Band Pattern Drafting: Any skirt pattern can be used to draft a shaped hem facing. Take the pattern piece and trace the hem, including seam allowances all around. Determine how high you want the band to be -- typically skirt hems are 1 to 1.5 inches, but can be higher as desired. Make sure to mark the correct grain line. 


Generally, facings are interfaced to provide stability, but for this technique, it would be a good idea to test whether interfacing would provide too much bulk or stiffness to the hem. The facing is understitched -- an extra row of stitches sewn to the facing to encourage it to stay on the wrong side of the skirt -- which means there are extra stitches that could make the hem stiffer than what you want. 


Shaped Hem Facing Sewing: For my sample skirt, I chose not to interface the facing because I underlined the main fabric with fusible weft interfacing to stabilize the wool. Keeping the facing soft allowed the flared hem to maintain drape. 


After sewing the facing to the hem, understitching the seam allowance to the facing and trimming away the excess seam allowance, press the facing to the inside of the skirt, using steam to perfect the shape. For my sample skirt, I chose to fold under the seam allowance along the upper edge of the facing and sew it by hand. This creates the cleanest finish. Another option is to serge the upper edge and stitch in place. 


This technique is a bit more time consuming, but I think the results are worth it! 





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