Monday, November 4, 2013

Mending Monday: Altering A Dress Hem Line (Plus Craftsy Class Review!)

Just to worn you - this is a very picture heavy post. I wanted to really illustrate what I did :)
Probably about 6 months ago, my fellow thrifting friend, Tara, brought this dress to me and asked if I could make the hem straight and remove the ruffle part.
I know that top photo isn't great, so here is a better shot of the details. Really, the top is very cute and I agreed with Tara - that asymmetrical hem had to go. The dress was made by A Byer too, so it was a decent quality piece and well worth saving. Back when Tara brought the dress to me, I seriously had no idea how I would complete the task. Normally, I would have just chopped the hem, folded it under and sewn a new hem line. The problem with doing that to this piece is the length - this baby is short! And if I used even more of the scant amount of fabric to roll under for a hem, it would have been down right indecent, lol. Over the last few months though, I've watched the Tailoring Ready-To-Wear class on which has taught me so many valuable tips and tricks. Only after watching that class did I figure out a plan for altering this dress, and this is what I did:
First I had to mark where to chop the fabric for the new hem. I measured from the top of the ruffle part to the bit of piping at the waist of the dress - it was 16". Since the piping was symmetrical across the whole waist, I just measured down 16" from it and made a mark.
Next I laid the dress out on a table connected my spots with chalk. I made sure to do this on both sides to ensure I wasn't cutting the back uneven.
I chopped that ruffle off and this is what was left - already much better :)
The next step is actually a trick I learned for lengthening pants in the class. Instead of folding your fabric over, you just use a wide bias tape to add the length you will need on the other side. The fabric was a cotton/spandex, so it had some stretch and I knew that regular store bought bias tape wouldn't work. Luckily, I had that ruffled piece I just cut off the dress :) I laid out the lining from under the ruffle on my cutting mat and got it lined up as straight as possible. Then I measured 2" out, laid down my ruler and used my rotary cutter to cut it off. The best part of using this lining piece was that the edge already had a knitted bind off, so I didn't have to finish the edge at all :)
Once my bias tape was cut, I had to shorten it to match the new hem. I matched up the side seam on one side and marked where the new hem ended with a pin. Then I used an overcast stitch to sew the new side seam together and cut off the excess. The overcast stitch looks very similar to serging, so it matched the other side pretty well.
Then I pinned the cut edges of the bias tape to the right side of the cut edge of the dress and did the same overcasting stitch to hold them together. 
I was a little skeptical as to if this would hold the fabrics together well (I've never really used the overcast stitch before), but as you can see it made a nice seam and you couldn't see it from the outside at all - perfect!
And inside it looked so professional - just like a serger :) To make sure that the new hem facing doesn't constantly flip to the outside, I needed to understitch the seam allowance.
Understitching is where you stitch right along the seam allowance line on the facing fabric, and when the seam allowance is tacked down to that side, it basically helps to keep them bent toward each other and it won't flip out easily.
Since this was a stretch fabric, I used a very tight zig zag stitch for the understitching and this is what it looked like (above).
Next I had to press the new hem really well. I made the front fabric roll toward the onside just a bit to make sure that you can't see the bias tape while its worn.
The final step was a bit tricky. I pinned the edge of the hem together just to make sure the fabrics didn't slip around, and then I folded the fabric to do a blind hem. I've never really done this on a machine before, so I had to pull out my manual, lol, but it was very straight forward and I was able to get it lined up pretty well.
Next I just put it under my presser foot and stitched the blind hem. This was a slightly scary moment and I kept stopping and looking at the area I had just stitched to make sure it was truly a "blind hem". Much to my surprise, it looked great! You could see the stitches a little bit at first, but once I gave it a good press, it set the stitches where they should be and it looked just like a hem from something you would buy in a store :)
This is what the new hem looks like (left- outside, right - inside). I should have put the stitching closer to the edge of the bias tape inside, but this is a seriously minor point considering that I was able to do this at all :) I'm really pleased with how it came out.
And this is the finished product :) This is my first legitimate clothing alteration, and also my first opportunity to really use my knowledge from my Craftsy class. I would absolutely recommend this class to everyone! Angela Wolf (the teacher) was very entertaining to watch, but also very informative. She had done alterations for a long time and the class is purposely designed to teach you how to get started with your own alterations business. Pretty cool, right? She gives lots of time saving tips that she has learned from her own experience. You learn how to shorten and lengthen pants so that you can't tell it was done (even with jeans), how to fit a t-shirt, a dress bodice, a jacket sleeve, and even how to fix hems and invisible zippers :) She breaks things down to make things easy to understand even if you aren't an expert seamstress. I would even like to take more of the classes taught by Angela just because I liked this one so well.
Online Sewing Class
I give this class 5 out of 5 stars! I can't believe how much I learned from it and I know that it will prove useful on many more projects to come. I would never have been able to do this alteration on this dress without my class knowledge. I hope this will encourage others to give it a look - you really have nothing to lose :)

*I did not receive any compensation for this post. I just really love the class! All opinions are 100% my own and not influenced in any way.

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