How to Hem a Maxi Dress
Being just a few inches shy of 6-feet tall, I can’t say I’ve had to hem many things in my life. In fact, everything—pants, dress, skirts, and shirts—is usually too short. Maxi dresses and skirts, which I love, almost always hover around my ankles. But that wasn’t the case with this maxi dress, which was impressively long:
I picked this dress up on a Target clearance rack. It was truly a score—the fabric is so soft (95% rayon, 5% spandex), and I’ve been in need of a versatile black maxi dress for a while. However, you can see it was a few inches too long to wear with flats, which is what I wear with maxi dresses and skirts. So I decided I would hem it.
Having never hemmed anything, I opted to sew my hem because I’m trying to work on my sewing skills. However, there are perfectly viable no-sew options, and I’ll link to those after outlining the sewing steps.
Here’s what you’ll need to sew a quick and easy hem on a maxi dress:
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- Sewing machine and matching thread.
- Measuring tape, pins (ballpoint pins if you’re using a stretch knit fabric), and scissors (I have these scissors, and they are amazing!)
- Iron and ironing board.
- Preferably a helper to help measure the hem (not entirely necessary).
Step #1: Put the dress on and use chalk to mark where you’d like the dress to fall. Take the dress off and lay it flat on your work space. (I could not find my chalk, so I put some pins in instead, which you’ll see below. Not ideal, but it worked!)
Step #2: Trim some of the excess off. Don’t trim all the way to your pin or chalk line, which is there to mark the desired dress length, not where you’ll cut.
Since this fabric doesn’t fray, I left the edge raw. You’ll see the more sophisticated seam I cut off below. 🙂
Step #3: This step best illustrates how much easier it would have been to use a chalk line instead of a line of pins.
- If you have a chalk line, fold the hem up along the line and pin it in place.
- If you have a line of pins, take them out one by one and fold the hem up along the line, re-pinning as you go.
Either way, make sure the raw edge of fabric is folded up on the inside of the dress. Also ensure that the space between the bottom of the dress and the line of pins is about the width of your sewing machine’s pressure foot.
Step #4: You’ve now pinned up the hem and are ready to sew. Before sewing, I gave the pinned fold a little press to keep it flat while sewing. Run the entire length of the dress through your sewing machine using a straight stitch. Remember to back stitch the beginning and end of your seam to secure it. (Read more about lock and back stitching here.)
If you don’t have a sewing machine, there are tons of iron-on hemming tape options. Here are a few:
- Thermoweb Heatn’ Bond Hem Iron-On Adhesive. I’ve used the ultra hold kind to experiment with no-sew pillows, so I can recommend the brand. If the hem iron-on adhesive is anything like the ultra hold adhesive, you may have to iron for a bit longer than the instructions indicate. This tape is safe for machine washing, as well as dryer cycles if kept on low heat.
- Iron-On Hemming Tape. Described as ideal in a pinch, great for hems and rips, easy to use, and machine washable. This tape still allows for dry cleaning.
- Stitch Witchery, regular hold. Amazon describes it as a regular weight hemming option for hems, trims, and belts. Machine washable and dry cleanable.