sdsa: the hem + the finish line!

So all we have left to do is hem our dresses, which means that this is the last tutorial in this sew-along series. (Although I am toying with the idea of tacking on a tutorial for how to make a separate belt–anyone interested?) Hemming is probably one of my favorite parts of sewing–I love hand stitching a hem and tend to opt for that over a machine blind hem. But, you can certainly do that if you’d like (just consult your machine’s manual for instructions). Below is how I hemmed my Swing Dress, but it certainly can be done with just a plain turn-under hem (turn under 1/2″ and then another 1/2″ for the 1″ hem allowed) and then slipstitched.

Turn under your hem 1″, lightly press and pin. Try on the dress to make sure the hem is even around. As you can see on the left image, my hem was originally a bit long on the left side, so I refolded the hem to achieve an even line all around.

I decided to use the same lace tape I used on the sleeve hems (it’s just so fun!) on the skirt hem. Trim the edge of the hem to an even length and finish with a zig-zag stitch or serge. Pin one edge of the lace hem tape over the edge of the dress hem (covering the finishing stitches) and then stitch it to the edge using a straight stitch (although a zig zag is acceptable too).

Turn up the hem and pin in place along the previously-pressed crease.

Thread a needle with thread that matches your dress material and hem using a whip or slip stitch. Give the hem a final press and you’re done!

If you haven’t already, now is the time to do any more finishing work like adding a button to secure the bodice overlap and tacking down the neckline facing. Try on your dress, admire your handiwork and give yourself a pat on the back–you did it!

What’s next in this sew-along? According to my schedule (which we are surprisingly close to the original finish date!) we’re supposed to have a Swing Dress show-off party. I was thinking that I could post my final dress and then have a form that you can link to your finished dress (blog post or images) to share with everyone. Cupcakes and party hats optional (but encouraged). How about a week from now: March 10? Does that sound achievable to everyone? I’m so excited to see all your lovely dresses!

March 3, 2011 · 25 lovely thoughts
posted in sewing · tags: ,

lauren March 3, 2011 at 16:52

what i want to know is where did you get those shoes?! they are adorable!!

while i didn’t follow the sew-along (i have too many projects as it is right now!), i would love a tutorial on a covered belt. i actually have a big mess of buckles and that belt webbing stuff, i just haven’t had a change to pull out my reference books and play around with them yet.

Remade Rehnberg March 3, 2011 at 17:07

Oh, its getting so cool the dress, love your idea on a sew along! Very nice idea to use lace when you turn up the hem, great detail. Thanks for your kind answer to my mail, tomorrow I will have a note on your blog in mine (the post is saying your blog inspires me!)


Elissa March 3, 2011 at 17:10

Lovely, lovely dress! Two questions:

One–I LOVE the fabric!! Where did you get it from? You said you ordered it, didnt you? Also, what kind of fabric is it? Not cotton I presume.

Two–how do you do the edging of your fabric with stitching? (as seen in the second picture) as a self-taught seamstress, I never learned how to do that…or if my machine can do hemming/stitching like that. (the white stitching not the hemming with the lace)

Thanks so much

Little Black Car March 3, 2011 at 17:13

I’m always good for belt advice. I’ve never figured out how to do one successfully (short of, in a pinch, a nylon-strap one which was basically a very large dog-collar around my waist. Yeah).

Amanda March 3, 2011 at 19:40

The 10th sounds great! That’s such a nice idea to have a little show-off party to formally end the sew-along. And I’d love a belt tutorial!

Eunice March 3, 2011 at 19:44

I love your shoes!!! Where did you buy them?

martha March 3, 2011 at 20:09

Oh! I love the lace trim hem idea. I didn’t do the sew along, but I do have a dress that needs to be rehemmed, and this will be perfect. Thanks!

megannielsen March 3, 2011 at 21:35

Oh my goodness I swear that is the PRETTIEST hem I’ve ever seen Casey! I love it!! I honestly think you feel better when the inside of your garment is as pretty as the outside, and I get the feeling you are the same!

Gina March 3, 2011 at 22:14

Okay, I am now going to try to hem my dresses like you do, your hem looks very pretty. I sew the blind hem stitch on the machine, but it’s not so blind/invisible as I would like. I Finished the dress today. looking forward to seeing everyone’s dresses.

Kimber March 3, 2011 at 23:45

From what I’ve been able to see, your dress looks amazing! How talented you are. :)
I would definitely be interested in seeing a belt tutorial!

Tisha March 4, 2011 at 00:52

Casey, a belt tutorial would be awesome – and I wonder if we could finish a belt by the time of the dress party? I know I have some belt making items in my sewing stash (all estate finds!) So that would be so great to add belt-making skills to my sewing repertoire :)

Your dress hem looks lovely! (I enjoy hand-sewing over machine sewing, too. In fact, when my sister was much younger, I hand-stitched her a khaki skirt and sewed buttons down the front on two sides. My sister was 4 at the time, so the skirt was small, but the project took me about 3 days – did it in between breaks at work as well as the evenings! That skirt held up for many years.) Any rate, can’t wait to see your entire dress. It’s almost as if you keep “teasing” us with just snippets, but of course! What else could you do? :)

My dress is complete!! I have to add a few darts in the back because the waist just didn’t look too nice – had to bring it up a bit. But that’s nothing. Will have photos to share by the beginning of the week — this is really exciting!

Clare March 4, 2011 at 05:01

Echoing other commenters -those shoes are to die for!

Lauren March 4, 2011 at 05:42

Oh wow, that really is the nicest hem I’ve ever seen. I’m sold on lace!
I’m really regretting not getting on top of this dress earlier so I could join in on the party.

Erika March 4, 2011 at 06:28

That’s a beautiful method for hemming! I hadn’t thought about using lace before, but it looks so great.
Me and my friend Elin are sewing along in a much slower pace (it’s her first project since home-ed, and I’m finishing a coat =) ) so we don’t plan to be ready until end of March, but it will be so much fun to see everyones dresses. I’m sure they’ll be wonderful!

Victoria / Justice Pirate March 4, 2011 at 08:45

It looks so amazing!!! Great job. I twas fun to watch you do all of this over time!

Sheri March 4, 2011 at 09:20


Although I was unable to do the sew-along, I have enjoyed it immensely and have learned from it. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I bought the pattern and have printed the tutorials with the hopes of trying one this summer. Your dress is simply lovely with a beautiful color and pattern. I think the belt tutorial would be great, too. I hope I’ll be able to see everyone’s dresses. I’m quite sure they’ll be smashing! :)

Elise March 4, 2011 at 11:19

Love your dress fabric, and the amazing shoes! :)

Paunnet March 4, 2011 at 13:12

Oh my god, Casey, THOSE SHOES! I’m love!
Anyway, my dress is almost done, so March 10 is perfect!

Marie March 4, 2011 at 16:08

OoOoOoOoh, looking great Casey!

I’m afraid, I’m lagging behind on this fabulous sew-along, but I have just posted about my muslin. Would you be so kind as to have a peak and let me know what your expert opinion is? Sorry for being so cheeky! If you’re still checking Flickr and that’s easiest for you, I’m more than happy to post my pics there instead?

Many thanks ;o)

Renee March 4, 2011 at 18:19

I love the fabric you used. Looks so pretty.

elise March 5, 2011 at 02:05

I’d love to see a belt tutorial!

Nathalie March 5, 2011 at 10:34

Having failed to even get started on Gertie’s Crepe Sew-along (actually I have the pattern, so I guess that’s a start), and having stalled at the first fitting of Peter’s, I didn’t even attempt yours. I will catch up on all eventually, but it may take some time! Re. the hem to your dress, as you’ve lined your fabric, when you slip stitch the hem, do you do it only into the lining or into both layers of fabric? The former would make the hem stitch completely invisible, but there may be a reason why one shouldn’t do it that i don’t know of…

Sam March 7, 2011 at 02:46

Hi Casey! I can’t wait to see this dress finished! I am beginning to plan sewing my own swing dress and am grateful to have all your posts to refer to :-)
I just wanted to let you know I ‘borrowed’ your idea on using lace for hemming. I used a pretty pink lace to cover the serged edge of the hem on a dress I just made using a 1950′s pattern. You can see it here if you like:
Love your blog! Sam xox

bristols6 March 21, 2011 at 17:50

you can get the best hem tape at bristols6!!

Ashley March 27, 2011 at 11:38

I love that I have found a blog just about sewing and vintage too!! I have been looking for you forever! I am trying my hand in some personal sewing endeavors and your blog is the perfect site for me to find inspiration and a little bit of help. I am glad to be a new follower!

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