Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Cheat's Guide to Re-Hemming

I'm always talking about how amazing charity shops are, and forever blogging about my recent finds - but I often fail to mention that with nearly every purchase there is always a bit of extra work involved: re-hemming. Being 5ft 2" and with a particular fondness for wearing most things super short (à la 1960s/because in theory I think it makes me look taller...), I'm fairly used to lopping of the bottom off of dresses and running them through the sewing machine, often only to realise that I have in fact cut off far too much. But it must be said - all the effort is worth it when you realise you have just breathed life into an old unwanted garment that cost you a mere couple of pounds, turning it into a wardrobe-worthy item to cherish.

For those of you who don't have access to a sewing machine, I can imagine that the potential of charity shops seems much more limited - but it doesn't need to be! Although I'm sure most people have heard of re-hemming tape, I feel I should point out just how good it really is - in fact, I may even be ditching the sewing machine for these jobs in future!

For under £2 I bought 10m of tape, enough for at least 5 items of clothing. It can be found easily in most haberdasheries and supermarkets at very little cost. With this magical invention, the entire process of re-hemming takes under 15 minutes!

So without further ado, introducing the item to be re-hemmed - a stunning mondrian-style shift dress, picked up in a local charity shop for just £4. Admittedly, it doesn't look very long in the picture, but you will have to trust me that it just didn't feel quite right!

1) Always try on your item before deciding on a length! Once I had the dress on, I decided I wanted it to be about 8cm shorter. So, allowing for a 3cm hem, this meant that I needed to cut off around 5cm all around.

2) My mum taught me a very quick technique for measuring how much to take off, which means you won't need pins or markers. Simply fold over a piece of paper so that it is the desired width of the amount you need to cut off (5cm for me), and place it against the fabric along the current hem as you cut. Note that this works best with straight hems!

3) I used straight scissors, as I planned to turn the hem in on itself as I ironed in order to hide the raw edge, but pinking shears would also work very well and would mean that the ironing stage is less fiddly.

4) Fold your new hem up inside the dress/skirt/trousers about 3cm, and iron it into place. The dress will hopefully now be your desired length - but double check in the mirror before ironing the hemming web in! In the photo below, I've actually ironed two creases - one to conceal the raw edge. But if you used pinking shears, ironing two creases is unnecessary.

5) Lie your re-hemming tape along the crease and fold the hem over it, ready to be ironed.

6) Making sure that none of the tape is visible, carefully iron along the hem to melt the tape. You will need to have your iron set to cotton heat (but be careful with synthetic materials!) and make sure you press quite hard!

7) Wait for the hem to cool

8) Model your newly shortened dress in the garden! haha.

There are some amazing advantages to using tape rather than sewing the hem - firstly, you can't see stitching (which in my case is always wonky!), and secondly, most types of tape can be peeled apart if you re-iron them - so even if you make a mistake, you can go back and change it easily!

So everyone - go forth and thrift those odd-lengthed and unwanted skirts and dresses and turn them into something lovely!

Sadie xxx

P.S. I will be back soon with an amazing jumpsuit which I am very excited about!


Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Wow hemming tape - never heard of it - super easy and what an amazing result. The dress looks fantastic on you, especially with the white tights oooh and lurve the bag too!!!

Kaitlin Mattingly said...

sooooo cute! I've never really trusted hemming tape because I feel like it won't hold up...but I think I just might have to give it a shot!


xo kait

Steffys Pros and Cons said...

omg i have totally seen this!! cant believe it works!

<3 steffy
Steffys Pros and Cons

SophieSweetVintage said...

Thanks! The dress is just perfect this way, love it :)

Hayley said...

I’d never heard of hemming Tape, thanks! I’m definitely going to try your mum’s piece of paper trick too. I bought a pleated skirt from a charity shop that I want to make shorter, I’m a little apprehensive though… seems a bit too ambitious for me! x

Amy said...

Note to self: buy hemming tape

Anonymous said...

This kind of post makes me so glad that I live in the 21st century and that I have the ability to quickly re-hem clothes instead of spending hours doubled over with a needle and thread! Great step by step guide - I've bookmarked it for future reference.

Tilly said...

Aww me and hemming tape are old friends! He is kind to me even when i iron him down!

You look so beautiful here! Like a sixties siren O_O!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! However, I will undoubtedly continue to keep my local seamstress in cups of tea and chocolate biscuits, as I tend to look at the pile of mending and think how much nicer it would be if a professional did it, instead of me with my iron-on sticky hem tape : )) Keeping the economy going with my laziness! P.S. I rather like your glasses, I am obsessed with finding a nice pair at the moment!