How To Hem Wool Tutorial

As you may have noticed, I like working with wool. Correction – I LOVE working with wool. It hangs extremely well, is gorgeous to the touch, cuts like a knife going through butter and generally behaves itself. The only very slight drawbacks I’ve found are:

  • It scorches, so watch the temperature of your iron. (Or have a fresh pan scourer to hand. Yes, really.)
  • It can stretch with handling (and pressing).
  • The bulk of the wool can create a bulky hem.

I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned about hemming wool, as this is a nice finish that could be applied to other items. It’s particularly useful if you realise that you don’t have a lot of fabric left to hem with ie if you don’t want your skirt or trousers to go much shorter than they already are unhemmed.

So to begin.

1. My tutor forced me to rigorously measure the hang of my skirt to my ideal hem length all the way round from the waistband, marking with chalk. I usually judge this by eye and cross my fingers. How annoying-I-mean-disciplined to get the tape measure out.

2. We then pinned the skirt and put it on a dummy so that we could both look at the hang of the pinned hem and agree that it looked okay. But my body is different to a dummy’s so…

3. I then put the dress on and my tutor checked the hang of the hem on me. Satisfied? Hurrah! Moving on…

4. Find yourself some bias tape. You’ll need the best part of two metres to hem a dress like the V8667. Don’t have enough or need to go and buy more? Here’s how to attach two pieces of bias tape to make one long piece. Lay two ends of bias tape right side together, opened out and at a 45 degree angle:

Sew along the pinned line. Then when you open it out (once sewn) see how it magically…

A small but clever detail!

Right, shall we start hemming?

5. Press your wool to the hem length you desire. Then open the hem back out and start pinning bias tape to the raw edge of the make, right sides together and with the bias tape opened out. Sounds counter-intuitive, but bear with me.

6. Sew the bias tape to your dress along the fold line nearest the raw edge.

7. Turn the hem back over to the wrong side of your make and turn the raw edges of the bias tape under.

8. Then get your beeswax and needle out and start hand stitching the open edge of the bias tape to your main fabric, picking up only a few threads as you go:

Inside hem complete

Done! This method of hemming means you can avoid the bulk of a twice turned wool hem.

If you don’t yet own any beeswax, this is what it looks like:

Ugly little critter, ain’t it?

Once you’ve run your thread through the beeswax, don’t forget to iron your thread! It makes SUCH a difference.

It occurred to me that there’s another way of hemming wool, such as was used in my make of the Simplicity 2512:

This pattern makes a feature of the bias hem (cut from main fabric or contrast fabric), so that there’s no turn over at all – great with wool.

I hope this helps. Wool is such a beautiful fabric to work with, there’s really nothing to be scared of. I wore my V8667 dress yesterday and received many compliments on it. But the best part? Turning the hem over in my quiet moments to smile at that beautiful, hand stitched bias binding. My secret pleasure.

I dream of working with this one day.

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12 Responses to How To Hem Wool Tutorial

  1. rachel says:

    I love that you admire your hem in your quiet time. It looks great – I’ve never used this technique, but I will be now! Thanks Karen.

  2. Suzie says:

    Yeay – how awesome. I just finished making a wool dress last month and deliberated about how to hem it without getting the bulk – and I ended up doing just this! I’m very new to dress making so I was very much winging it. I too have secret moments of admiration for my bias bound hem, hee hee ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Bold Sewist says:

    I love thinking of you admiring your hem – aren’t there so many unexpected pleasures of sewing?!
    Thanks for the tutorial! And I think the colour of your beeswax is quite pretty in that picture, especially next to the lovely needle case! Call me sad!

  4. Steph says:

    Such a good tutorial! It looks so neat and pretty as well – I would admire it every chance I got as well ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Jane says:

    Ooh thanks Karen. I’d planned to use this method with the next skirt I make, so it’s perfect timing. x

  6. Suzy says:

    Great tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing. Will definitely use this ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Kristen Orme says:

    I never thought of using bias tape before & I have struggled through some bulky hemming! I too am a non-measuring finger-crosser!

  8. montanachic says:

    Thanks for this information. I do have a question, how long does your instructor, and you, think that you should make the turned under edge of the wool?

  9. Pingback: How To Hem Wool Tutorial | Did You Make That?

  10. Rebecca says:

    I will use this for my wool skirt. I also have never heard of using beeswax for sewing. I researched it a little more and found out why. Makes sense. Thanks for the tutorial!

  11. Your “secret pleasure”: admiring your work. I totally do this. I had to laugh at that one. “Ahh, look at my pretty hem.” (Ha! Ha!) ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Pingback: Fabric For Sewing Inexpensive In Kc Mo | Quilting

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