Saturday, September 24, 2011


So I thought for fun I would share with you how I "mended" one of my Costume Museum of Canada Fashion Show outfits. I put mending in quotations because I didn't really mend it, I hemmed the slip for this dress.

The sad story of this dress is this: It was donated to to CMC to use in the Fashion Show. Originally it was twice as large as it is now. Down the line some unknowing volunteer decided to wash the dress as it had gotten a little dirty with repeated wearing. The dress is rayon crepe from 1929. I should never have been washed. Only dry cleaned. It shrank. A LOT! The slip did not shrink as it is acetate and is (was) too long. For as long as I have worn this outfit for the fashion shows the slip has been pinned up so it didn't stick out of the bottom of the dress. I offered to hem it. Today I did just that.

With that little story out of the way, I thought you might enjoy seeing how I go about hemming a garment. This is basically the same technique I used to hem all of my dresses this summer.

Disclaimer: I am by no means a professional seamstress, but I'm no beginner either. I can follow a pattern, I know my way around my own sewing machine and I'm anal as hell (which helps a lot).

When hemming my my own dresses I usually put on the item in question, examine myself in the mirror and stick a pin in the dress where I think I'd like it to be hemmed to. Then I pin up the entire hem to that line and carefully try the dress on again. Repeat if I'm not happy with the results.

This time I had to hem the slip so it was hidden under the dress, so I got out my trusty dress form. Before I put the slip and dress on I gave both garments a good steam (I own a professional quality steamer) so they would hang properly so I could see how much needed to be hemmed.

Here you can see here how much the slip sticks out at the bottom.

Next I pinned the slip up in one spot to see if this was enough to keep it hidden under the dress.

Then off came the dress and the slip. I laid the slip out inside out on the floor.

Then I turned up the hem to my pin mark and measured the turned up length.

After measuring, I worked my way around the bottom of the slip measuring and pinning as I went.

Then I tossed the slip on the mannequin again to make sure it didn't look wonky. Looked good to my eye so I proceeded.

Next I ironed this wide hem I had created to mark my new hem position.

I used medium heat with a little steam and covered the slip with a cotton napkin to protect the fabric. When ironing resist the urge to smoosh the iron around! (smoosh is a technical term btw.) This can stretch delicate fabric and make your hem look funny. Use firm, even pressure and press the iron onto the spot you'd like ironed, lift, move and repeat. This will ensure a nice straightly ironed line.

Once the hem was pressed, I removed the pins. Leaving the slip on the ironing board I measured two inches in from my pressed line and cut off the excess fabric. These 2 inches will become my rolled hem.

Once the access fabric has been removed I folded the remaining 2 inches in half, folded it again at the pressed "line" and pinned it down. (I had to pin the hem down in the first photo in order to photograph it, because I only have two hands. Normally I just turn the hem in and turn it in again)

Place your pins as shown in the photo above. This will enable you to leave them in when you sew everything down with your sewing machine later.
Once the hem is pinned press everything down again for a nice crisp edge. This final press will also make sewing a lot easier.

I decided I would use my sewing machine to hem this slip. Typically I hand sew hems on dresses and pants, but I decided to use my sewing machine for two reasons:

1. This is a slip. No one will see it.
2. The hem on the slip looked like a gnarled mess before I got to it.

I'm not sure if it had been hemmed once already or if it came like this, but I figured I couldn't hurt it anymore than it already had been.

Off to the races!

After sewing I tossed it on the mannequin again and prayed to God I didn't screw it up. (I do this a lot when I'm sewing. Especially before I cut something. Lots of deep breaths!)

Thankfully I didn't. It looked pretty good!

Next I put the dress on over it and prayed again that I had hemmed it short enough. And I did! Yeah! (maybe I should start giving myself some credit when it comes to my sewing...)

I'm really excited that I had some time for this project. Our next Fashion Show is next Saturday and I'm wearing this outfit again. I can't wait to wear it without all of those pins stuck in it!

And just for fun (because who knows when I'll have this at my house again, if ever!), the vintage suede and leather shoes and corded navy clutch that are part of this outfit. *Sigh* So pretty...

I've got another dress to work on here as's on my dress form in my living room as I type this (with so   many other half finished projects!!). The mending is a little more involved with this one. I'll be sure to post about it once I've got it complete!



  1. Great post for newbies to sewing like me! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Heavenly outfit,you look gorgeous and what a fine job you did of hemming/mending that baby!:)


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