If you’ve ever tried to hem a circle skirt the way you hem a straight skirt you’ve no doubt had trouble. You work so hard on the whole garment then the curved hem just doesn’t want to cooperate. And if you want a nice wide hem–forget it. You end up with bunching and it’s hard to get it to look good.
Hemming a circle skirt or other curved edge is inherently different because you have more fabric at the edge than where you need to stitch. Your circle circumference is bigger the further you get from the center. So how do you account for that extra fabric?
That’s where these secrets for hemming a circle skirt come in. They’ll help you get a nice smooth hem (even a nice wide one) without all the frustration!
Secret 1: Hem a Circle Skirt with Bias Tape
Using bias tape (also called bias binding) is a simple way to hem a circle skirt or other curved edge. Bias tape is fabric that is cut at 45 degrees from the straight grain (or on the bias) into folded strips. When fabric is cut on the bias, it has more flexibility and can more easily wrap around curves without becoming bulky.
When hemming a circle skirt, you use that flexibility to curve smoothly around the circle at its widest while still fitting perfectly at the stitch line. Both layers of the skirt in the main photo above were finished with bias tape.
You can buy pre-made bias tape or make it yourself using one of these tools. I like how this video helps you see how to use bias tape–if you haven’t used it before go check it out.
Secret 2: Create a Facing
Creating a facing to hem a circle skirt is a little more laborious but you can get a deeper hem that’s more desirable for a higher-end look. This is how I finish my own clothing because I love the look and weight of deep hems. Here’s how you do it.
- Look in your pattern to see how much of a seam allowance is allowed. Let’s say it allows for a 1″ hem. So you’d cut your pattern 1″ shorter than the pattern calls for. Then sew up your dress until you get to the hemming part.
- Now take your pattern and cut a facing using the hemline of the pattern to the height you want it. Finish one edge with either a zigzag stitch or a serger. In this example I’m cutting my facing a good 2″ (I like wide hems) and since the facing will follow the bottom of your skirt exactly you won’t have any trouble folding the hem up.
- Sew your facing pieces together at the side seams. Then pin the facing to the garment (right sides and raw edges together). Now stitch around the whole hemline.
- Flip the facing to the inside of the garment and press so you have a nice clean hemline. Then either machine or hand stitch the facing in place and you’re done!
Because the facing is the exact same shape as the garment, you won’t have any bunching. Everything should lay perfectly flat, eliminating the headache and frustration of hemming a curved edge. It’s totally worth the added step–especially when you have a really big curved edge like on this maxi skirt. I started to hem it without the facing, and was so mad I almost gave up until I remembered to use this secret.
If you liked this tutorial, you might also like:
The Secret to Gorgeous Gathers || Lengthening a Dress
And check out the dress pattern review here:
Georgia Twirl Dress
Thanks for a great idea. I have just gotten back into sewing (and didn’t know that much 20 years ago) so all of these tutorials are great for newbies like me.
Hi Tami, Thanks for your comment! I hope you enjoy getting back into sewing and trying out a few ideas!
Thanks for the tip and for sharing it with us at Show-licious Craft and Recipe party!
I’ve learned so much from other seamstresses through blogs, and when I learn something new I love sharing!
This is awesome! I have tried to hem a circle skirt a few times and it was so frustrating. The last time I used bias tape, and it took forever! I am doing this trick next. Thanks for the tip.
It’s seriously frustrating without this method! You’ll love how easily your next project goes–it’s so worth the extra step!
Great idea! I totally forgot about this tip. 🙂
It’s amazing the difference it makes on a curve. Totally worth the extra step!
Such a great tip. I’ll have to remember this the next time I sew a circle skirt!
Hopefully it helps you Erin!
After you sew on the hem facing, do you then hem it?
Hi Linda, after sewing on the facing, you then either machine or hand stitch the facing to the back side of the main fabric. I promise the extra step is worth it though!
makes perfect sense… thanks for sharing!
Thank you, Carolyn!
I’ve never thought of making a fabric facing. Will have to try this if I have enough fabric. I’ve often used this method – it works great as well:
Thanks for sharing your link, Kathy! That looks a like a great method for small hems.
What an ingenious idea! If only if read this last night before I ruined the neckline of the dress I was making…
You’ll have to give it a try sometime. Necklines are a great place for these!
Great tute! Thank you. I love this fabric..so much I made a dress from it a while back 🙂 I still get many compliments on it when I wear it -I’m pretty sure it’s all about the print, lol!
Isn’t it the best? I found it on a bolt end and bought all that was left. I still have some more to make something…just deciding what it should be!
I made a cape for my Mom 6 months ago, and I haven’t finished because I’m too lazy to do the hem! Is it possible to just cut the fabric meant for the hem and do this process? Will it work?
If you cut off the bottom (what you would have hemmed) you could probably do this technique by laying it on top of the cape bottom and making them the same shape but it would depend on the shape of the cape.
I would edge stitch on the facing close to the seam allowance before sewing the final stitches to the garment.
Good idea, Mary!
How have I never this is pure genius
It’s a sanity saver!
OMG! Where has this been all my life?! I have been sewing for 40 years and have never seen this before! I have used a loose (like basting)stitch to pull up the fullness but you don’t get a nice flat hem that way. Thank you so much! Pinning and sharing!!
So simple and yet it isn’t common knowledge (yet)! I’m glad I could share something valuable. 🙂
I seriously had this exact problem yesterday, making a pair of woven pyjama shorts from a pattern – the very first I’ve ever tried. I hemmed one leg (scalloped sides – what was I thinking???) then gave up in frustration on the other. With 4 kids underfoot & 2 rowdy dogs it took from 9.30am to 4.45pm, & 2 attempts on plain sheet offcuts. I was nearly in tears wrestling the thing, and contemplating whether I had enough patience to sew from a pattern. I still hadn’t even cut the fabric I eventually wanted to use! Also, your pattern weights,… Read more »
Ugh, I’m so sorry you had such a frustrating day–that’s the worst! Hopefully this trick will make your next attempt much smoother. And pattern weights are the best!
Facings are wonderful for curved hems. However, I really don’t see how they have worked here. I see ripples in the hem area and the center back of the over skirt are at least an inch and a half apart. Something is just off with the cutting here, IMO.
I used this method (thought up myself) as an early sewer 60 yrs ago) on a very full square-dance dress. I used a 6″ diameter bowl, traced touching scollops for the skirt, then faced it. Below the scollops, I used a solid color piece, folded double to accent the scollops. Similar technique for yoke, but smaller scollops, of course. It was a real HIT!!! Loved making it AND wearing it!
You’re a smart lady! And I would have loved to see you wear it. 🙂
Thank you for your comment! Wish I knew how to send a drawing of it here; probably can’t find a photo. That was probably the first BIG project a I attempted at that stage of my early sewing years, but I really enjoyed the challenge, especially after I was told it was too much for me to even try. I was SO proud of how it turned out!
Would this trick work on knits as well? I am struggling to get my curved hems to lay flat and look nice! Thank you for the tutorial.
Yes! It totally works on knits too. Good luck!
OMG! such an ingenious idea! I am a complete novice and of course the first project I chose is a dress that has curved hem. You can imagine how frustrating it was, I can’t even get straight hem yet, let alone do the curved hemming. This was such an amazing idea, even a complete beginner such myself could do it! Thank you so very much!
Yea! So glad to have helped. Curved hems are quite the beast if you are new to them.
I am planning a visit to my daughter and family. My granddaughter is 4 and love to wear dresses.
Your “tip” is fantastic.
Burlington Ontario Canada