7 Steps to Sewing the Perfect Curved Hem
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When a straight hem just won’t do, a curved hem can turn a plain skirt or a dress into a work of art! Learning how to make a curved hem comes in very handy, especially when making dresses or circle skirts. Here is an easy method that will give you a smooth, neat finish on any round hem.
Whether you’ve been sewing for a while or you’re just starting, if you’ve ever tried your hand at making a circle skirt or dress you know how frustrating is to get a nice looking curved hem with a neat, polished finish. This is because the folded raw edge is wider than the seam line and the excess fabric would pucker underneath.
This tutorial will teach you how to hem a circle skirt the very easy way, so no more frustration or ugly hemlines! The technique is best used for medium weight fabrics. For light and heavyweight fabrics, you might want to use a serger first.
Learning how to sew a curved hem on a circle skirt or a dress is not only easy but enjoyable too and you’ll absolutely love the end result! It’s pretty tricky to fold and press and sew anything curved and it can get aggravated by the type of fabric you use. But once you get the hang of this method you’ll find that hemming a circle skirt is easy breezy!
I’ve used this method for curved hem when I made a circle skirt for my daughter and I really loved the finished look, even though I admit, I was a bit sloppy; I could’ve used paying a little more attention on details and sewing more accurately. I thought I should make a separate article on how to hem a curve, for ease of reference.
There are many methods of finishing a curved hem:
- Folding the fabric, where you fold the raw edge inside once or twice. It depends on the fabric thickness. You can either make a normal, running stitch or an invisible stitch with a presser foot;
- Serging, where you pass the raw edge through a serger and either leave it like this or fold once to make a folded hem on heavier fabrics
- Narrow zig-zag hem, similar to serging. You fold once and use very close zig-zag stitches (buttonhole kind of stitch) to cover the fold. Excess fabric is trimmed out. This is best for sheer fabrics like chiffon, organza or silk;
- Using tape to cover the hem on the wrong side of the fabric;
- Covering both sides along a raw edge with a bias strip;
- Adding lace, trims, frills or decorative stitches along the edge;
- Leave it unfinished if the fabric allows. This works well with leather, polyester, mesh, any fabric that doesn’t unravel.
In this tutorial, we will be focusing on the folded hem, which can either be machine or hand-sewn. Hand sewing looks neater, as you can work every stitch carefully, but it is also more time-consuming. If you do have the time, you can try hemming by hand and making an invisible hem. This is useful when you don’t want any seams showing on the right side of your garment.
For the regular sewing machine hem, you still need a bit of patience while folding and ironing, but the satisfaction will be worth it!
Other sewing tips you will love:
- How to sew concave and convex curves together
- 12 ways for finishing seams
- How to sew a rolled hem with rolled hem foot
- How to hem lightweight fabrics
- French seam tutorial
- Tips for sewing with canvas fabric
- How to calculate bias tape
- How to sew a lettuce hem
- Tips for adjusting the presser foot pressure correctly
Just to give you the heads up, if you work with an item that has a small radius (aka a “tight” circle), the method used in this tutorial won’t be able to eliminate puckering entirely (for example if you’re sewing a round item the size of your palm or just a little larger). In this case, it would be a lot easier to hem by hand to avoid as much fabric gathering as possible. But for regular items like circle skirts or dresses or blouses with curved edges, this method works wonders!
Be careful to choose the right needle and thread size for your fabric, and that the tension is correct. If you are not sure about the settings, check your machine manual. It is also a good idea to try the stitches on a piece of discarded fabric to make sure the settings and thread are correct. You don’t want to ruin the whole thing and start all over.
Here’s how to sew a curved hem with the perfect curve, without puckering!
Hi, I’m Petro, author and founder of Easy Peasy Creative Ideas. Sewist, crafter, avid DIY-er, foodie, photographer, homemaker and mommy to one. I’m an expert at coming up with quick, clever sewing tips, recycling crafts and simple, easy recipes! You can find my ideas featured in reputable publications such as Country Living, Good House Keeping, Yahoo News, WikiHow, Shutterfly, Parade, Brit & Co and more. Thanks for stopping by and hope you’ll stay for a while, get to know me better and come back another time. Stick around for real fun projects! Read more…
Hello Petro. I’m finding you site really interesting. Thank you. I am not very experienced at all with using a sewing machine.
My husband would like me to make a canvas top to fit an old World War Two German Maultier Truck.
Believe me, if I can pull this off it will score me a stupid amount of points 😊
Any advice or help you could give me would be extremely helpful
Thank you so much for this excellent tutorial. My favorite part was the video. My grandmother taught me this many years ago when I was16-17 years old. I haven’t sewn circle hems much, but when I read and watched your tutorial, I felt like I was back in my grandmother’s house learning from a master seamstress.
Hi, Leni! Thanks so much for the lovely comment! xoxo
Excellent tutorial. One additional step I learned many years ago was to use that last basting stitch to resolve any extra fabric folds that can occur with round hems. If the turned up hem does not lie flat just use a straight pin to pull on your basting thread. Then spread that area out till flat. Lays nicely as you sew your final hem line.
Great tip, thanks for sharing, Deborah!
Thank you so much for the excellent tutorial i have been struggling so much but this has helped me .
Aww! Thank you, Julie for your nice comment! It makes me so happy when my readers find my tutorials easy and instructive! xoxo
I keep going to your Easy Peasy Creative Ideas, I click the one for crafts and put in the code and they send me to google. Why?
Hi Ellen. I’m sorry, I have no answer to this. There aren’t any other people reporting issues so not sure what might go wrong. Would you be able to record a short video of the steps you take and send it to my email address at firstname.lastname@example.org?
I am making a poodle skirt and I had forgotten this technique from grade school home ec, and my mom. She is no longer here to ask, and she was an excellent seamstress. So thank you very much for your tutorial. It is very clear and concise and the pics are awesome! I think my daughter will look lovely in her poodle skirt!
Thanks so much, Melissa! Your comment made my day! I’m happy I could help with my tutorial and hope you’ll find more useful tips on the site in the future! xoxo
Great job, Petro. This is a really easy-to-follow guide. I’ll be sharing it on Pinterest.
Wow….this has bin very appreciated. Tried d curve hem your way nd it came out much better than i could imagine. Thank you for this.
By the way, this comment is comin all d way from Nigeria, Africa. Your work is seen and appreciaed world wide. Thank you.
Hi, Aisha. I’m so happy I could help you make a beautiful project! Thanks so much, your comment made my day! xoxo
Thanks for this tutorial. I found your site from Pinterest. I have tried sewing curved hems on a three ruffle half apron and it was such a pain to do. Now that I have found your tutorial I think I can face those curved edges with a new perspective. Thanks again and have a blessed day!
Aww! SallyAnn, you just made my day, thank you so much! Have a wonderful day yourself :)
Final step was omitted — stitching the final hem. The instructions quit at pressing the pinned up hem.
Thanks for your feedback, Wilma. Please read the post again as the final step is right before the final press you have mentioned. You are probably confudsed by the pins showing in that image; I did sew over them and you can see the stitch in that image.
If you make that first stitching a basting stitch, then you can pull the thread to ease the fullness – just like you would a set in sleeve (or, if you haven’t done that, a gathered skirt). Makes it much easier.
Hi Lorrie. Thanks so much for the tip, sounds much easier indeed :)
Sometimes just pinning and seeing won’t remove enough puckers. I have used an ear such many times 😊
Hi Petro, Very nice tutorial! Your daughter’s skirt turned out so pretty with the bow. Well done! Thanks for sharing this information! Blessings, Janet
Hi Janet. I’m so sorry, I just got the notification for your comment. Thanks so much, you are very sweet. xoxo