#RoyalWeddingSewAlong Hemming your Dress (McCall's 7684)

Your bodice is complete, your skirt is attached, your zipper is in, your bodice lining is all sewn up... time to hem!

I love love love horsehair braid, it's a very nice addition to a full skirt such as this one and once you get the technique down, it's an easy way to hem a skirt and adds gorgeous movement and body into your skirt. If you've ever made a circle skirt, you know that hemming them can be such a pain, and what a difference it makes to use single-fold bias tape as a facing. This is my preferred method for hemming anything curved, for example, the flounce and hem of this top, where you can see the bias tape peeking out. (Here's a tutorial if you don't know what I'm talking about.) Since horsehair braid is flexible, it does basically the same thing as bias tape with the added bonus of giving your hems a little extra boost of volume!

(note: while the pattern instructions call for a narrower braid, I'm using this horsehair that I had in my stash, which is much wider.)

Horsehair braid is easy to apply but it does take a little bit of extra care due to it's flexibility--you don't want to stretch it out while sewing. Take your time! Also, the application method I'm using here--different than the one in the pattern instructions!--can seem a little counter-intuitive, but it will all work out, I promise.

Before we begin, let's finish one edge of the horsehair braid--this keeps it from unravelling or snagging on your pantyhose (mandatory for a royal wedding, right?). Use a little scrap of bias tape an inch longer than your braid is wide (or a scrap of dress fabric, or anything you have lying around, really), unfold one long edge, and pin, aligning the edge of the bias tape with the end of the braid. (Ps: we're only finishing one end of the bias tape because the other end will be trapped inside the hem of the skirt. If your braid has an edge with little loops on it, that is the edge that should end up totally enclosed.)


Sew along the fold line.


Press the fold back in (lightly, and just on the bias tape; we don't want to melt our braid).


Fold down the end of the bias tape so it are level with the edge of the braid:


Fold the bias tape in half and pin in place:


Topstitch down the edge so your braid is encased!


Now we're ready to start!

Starting just before the back seam, align the bottom of your horsehair braid with the bottom of the skirt, on the outside. If your horsehair has one edge with little loops, that should be the side further from the hem, if not, don't worry about it, there isn't really a right and wrong side. Make sure this is the end of the horsehair that is all nicely finished with our bias tape! Here you can see the hem of my skirt on the bottom of the photo, the center back seam, and the horsehair braid close up:


Taking care not to stretch the braid as you go, work around the hem of the dress, aligning the edge of the braid with the hem, and pin in place.

Sew the braid to the skirt along the hem edge, at a 1/4" seam allowance.


When you get back to the start at CB, overlap the braid slightly, sew down, and then trim off the excess.

Now, let's just take a little peek and see how this hem works: flip your horsehair braid to the inside of your skirt. The seam you've just sewn should have made a nice little binding around the bottom of your horsehair braid!


Unfold your hem once again to press it flat, being careful to use a low heat and stay on the fabric, not the horsehair braid so you don't melt it. It should look like this from the inside:


And like this from the outside:


Now it's time to really fold it in, and pin along the inside of the skirt. Again, be careful not to stretch or warp the braid, but allow it to bend naturally. If your horsehair braid has loops along the top, you can tug on them a bit to pull the braid snug--it should lay flat against the body of the skirt.


If you want, you can topstitch this down, and call it a day, but I generally prefer to handsew hems. If you've been following along, you'll know I avoid handstitching generally, and honestly, I'm terrible at it, but when it comes to hems, even poor handsewing will 9/10 times look nicer than than a machine sewn hem, in my opinion. I use a whip stitch, which is not the preferred hand hemming stitch of advanced sewers, but it is quick and simple. Get yourself a good podcast or a tv show you don't have to watch closely (no subtitles!) and settle in for a bit of handwork.


Give your dress a final press all over and try it on! You may even want to twirl around in front of a mirror. You can see here the dress unhemmed vs. with the horsehair braid hem--see how much body it adds?

Mine actually adds a bit too much body, so I would definitely suggest going with the 1" horsehair vs. a wider version.

Y'all! Your dress is complete! Stick around for next week where we'll be adding some optional finishing touches...

As always comment below or email me with comments and questions!

xoxo,
allie

ps: a horsehair braid hem is great for adding body without a petticoat in hot weather, or if your petticoat is slightly too short, horsehair braid can help you get away with it and prevent droopy hem.



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