Sewing a hem facing is an alternative to turning a hem on a garment. It adds a special touch and is useful for lengthening an existing dress or top, or when you are sewing a garment and have alllllmost enough fabric but are a little short. It also makes hemming A-line tops and dresses simple – no easing stitches needed! Here’s how to sew a hem facing.
The Perfect A Line dress pattern for Baby is a reversible dress pattern when made by the instructions, but we’ve made it unlined with an all-in-one facing at the straps and armholes and a hem facing at the bottom.
We’ll show you how to do the all-in-one facing and make this dress unlined in another blog post next week. You won’t be able to use the hem facing technique with the Perfect A Line until we have both parts of the tutorial up but it’s good to read through it now so you understand how to sew a hem facing, and you can use it with your other unlined garment patterns – even those with a simple gathered skirt from rectangular cuts!
Because the Perfect A Line Dress pattern is drafted to be reversible, it has just 1/2″ seam allowance along the bottom hem. So, when we are not making the dress reversible, we have only 1/2″ to use as a hem allowance. You could press up a narrow 1/4″ hem, but I prefer a deeper hem, so am going to create a hem facing.
How to Sew A Hem Facing
First, make a pattern piece for your hem facing by using the dress front or back pattern piece – the hems on the two are the same on the Perfect A Line and many other patterns – when in doubt, trace off separate facings from the front and back and remember to label them. I measured 2.5″ up from the hem all along the bottom in order to have a 1.5″ finished hem – you can make this wider or narrower as you wish. Draw a line parallel to the original hemline.
Then cut along this line to make your new hem facing pattern piece. Be sure to mark your “fold” edge as soon as you create the pattern piece, as it’s easy to get this piece turned around the wrong way. Then make Tie Dye Diva proud and label your pattern piece as Hem Facing, Cut 2 on Fold.
Next – you guessed it, use the pattern piece to cut 2 facings on the fold. You can use same fabric, a contrasting fabric, or any woven fabric of a similar weight.
With right sides together, sew the facings together along their short edges and press the seams open.
Press the top (smaller) edge of this facing “loop” under 1/2″ to the wrong side.
With right sides together, place the facing around the dress, aligning the raw bottom edges. Sew around using a 1/2″ seam allowance.
Press the facing away from the dress, then turn the dress to the wrong side and press the facing against the wrong side of the dress. Pin it well so you don’t have bubbles! Then stitch the facing into place by either stitching around 1/8″ from the folded edge, or using a blind hem stitch if you prefer. Depending on your fabric weight and garment type, you may need to trim and/or clip the seam allowances before turning to avoid too much bulk or a wonky hem. (For the Perfect A-Line, I did not do either.)
Now you know how to sew a hem facing! It’s useful for lengthening garments, because you can let down an existing hem and use as little as 1/4″ of the original garment length to sew in a deep hem facing. So for example, if you have an existing dress that is hemmed by pressing under 1/2″, and then 1″, you can let out that hem, sew a facing on using a 1/4″ seam allowance, and lengthen your dress by 1-1/4″! It’s also useful if you are a little short on fabric when you are sewing a new garment. And, a hem facing allows you to sew a deep hem on an A-line shape without having to ease in the hem stitching.
See our other blog post showing how to make this reversible dress pattern completely unlined by drafting and sewing a quick all-in-one facing for the bodice.