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October 2010
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How To Measure Hems

         The last item in constructing a garment is putting in the hem.  There are a variety of hems that can be used on your finished garment.  You will find a number of hemming stitches and instructions for them in the next section.

          Before any hemming can be done, you will need to mark the hem.  Except for certain pleated styles, marking is done after the garment construction has been completed.  Although a garment’s finished length is largely determined by the pattern style and current fashion, it should be modified if a different length will be more flattering to the wearer.  It is wise to check the hemline location before cutting the pattern, in case a change is required. 

          There are two ways to mark a hem – on a flat surface or on the wearer, as indicated in the drawings below.

          Before marking a hemline at the hip or above (A) (also pants legs), check the pattern to see how much hem allowance has been provided.  Measure and turn up this amount, pinning the fabric from the right side.  Try on the garment and adjust the length if necessary.  Remove the garment and sew the hem. 

          To mark a hemline below the hips, put the garment on over the appropriate undergarments, and put on shoes and a belt (if appropriate) (B).  Stand on a low stool while a helper moves around you with a marker or yardstick, placing pins or marks every two inches. 

            To mark a hemline without help (C), use a chalk marker as shown.  Remember to test the chalk on a piece of scrap fabric, as chalk cannot be removed from some fabrics.  Standing straight, with feet together, move the marker around you, marking every two inches.  Try to avoid changing your position and posture as you work. 

             Next week we’ll discuss a variety of hemming stitches.

            These “how to” tutorials are an excerpt from our book “Basic Clothing Construction”.   This book is a handy addition to have in your sewing room, so you can refer to the various sewing tips and tutorials at any time

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Pattern Maker, Instructor & Author

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