If you learn how to hem a dress, you'll never have to pay for alterations again. The best part about learning how to alter clothes is that you can make secondhand dress clothing look custom-made. It's a lot easier to hem a dress than most people think. Considering the fact that dress alterations can start at $20 and go a lot higher depending on the dress, it makes sense to learn this basic skill.
Remove The Old Hem
Start by using a seam ripper to remove the current hem on your dress or skirt. You should work carefully so that you don't damage the fabric. Do one to two stitches at a time so you don't pull at the fabric. It will take a while to remove the stitches, but your careful work will be rewarded with a good-looking hem.
Measure The New Hem
Once you've removed the old hem, you should flatten the fabric with an iron. This will give you a flat fabric surface to work with, and it will make your new hem a lot sleeker. After pressing with an iron, let the dress cool, and then put it on. Stand in front of a full-length mirror, and then fold the dress up to where you'd like the hem to be. You might need an assistant to help you with this part. Pin at a few places, and then take off the dress.
Prepare The New Hem
Use a ruler or a seam measuring tool to figure out how big of a seam you need to use around the bottom of the dress. Using this tool, pin all the way around the bottom of the dress. After you've completed the pinning, you're almost ready to sew.
Before you sew the hem, put the dress on again, and look in the full-length mirror. Look at yourself from many different angles to make sure that the hem is at the right length. Pretend to sit down so you can see how the dress will fit in a seated position. Make any adjustments you need to. When you've decided on the hem length, press the hem with your iron.
Sew The New Hem
Once you've pressed the dress, you're ready to sew. Work slowly, and make sure to keep your fabric tight as you feed the fabric through the sewing machine. After you're done with the entire length of the hem, take the dress off the sewing machine, and you're ready to wear your newly altered outfit.
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If you know how to hem a skirt, you can do quite a few other basic alteration. Learn the basics.