how to: hem facings

I designed a skirt a few years ago, a skirt some of you may remember. It was long and sequined and ladylike and magnificent. I always sold the samples in a big sample sale, but I’ve always wanted one. Last month, I decided that with two tulle skirts in my closet and plenty of new dresses finished and ready to wear it was time to make this skirt for myself. I can’t wait to show you the finished product soon, but what connects my new sparkly skirt and this post is the fact that I put a hem facing in it. Hem facings are one of my favorite things, and I realized that I do them quite frequently, and for various reasons.

Hem facings are just another way to finish a hem. They are simple and easy to do, and they give the garment a very professional and clean finish. Think of hem facings just like you would any other facing–it’s simply a copy of the hem in a width of your choosing. Let’s go through some examples, starting with a garment with a shaped hem. You can sew a narrow hem on a shaped hem, but depending on your fabric they can roll or stretch and look a little blah. For a shaped hem like this, a hem facing is a nice detail that looks neat, and it’s also easier to sew.

This is a dress I made over the summer, and the fabric is a washed linen I got in Amsterdam last March. Linen makes a wonderful hem facing because it’s so easy to work with and because it presses so well. This hem facing is about 3″ wide, and I included 1/4″ to turn under and stitch in place. If you look closely you can see the row of stitching on the right side of the garment.

This is what my pattern pieces looked like. All I did was trace the bottom of the hem about 3″.

Whereas hem facings on a shaped hem are best because it helps keep the hem nice and neat, I often sew hem facings for looks. On this red dress, I sewed a hem facing just because I liked it. The skirt is midi length so the hem facing is wider, about 6″, and I double stitched the seam allowance under. This is a detail you can see on the right side of the garment, and I really like it. Because this skirt is so full, it took a little longer to attach the facing and finish it. The bigger the sweep of the hem, the more fabric it will take, so if you’re incorporating a hem facing into a garment like that, be mindful that it requires additional material.

One more example of sewing a hem facing just because I liked it is this linen copycat dress I made a few months ago. The hem of the dress is ever so slightly curved so I knew a facing would be an easy detail to incorporate. Plus, look how neat!

Probably the most appropriate time for a hem facing is when you’re using special fabrics–lace or mesh sequins or eyelet–that have an underlining. For example, if you want to put a contrasting color underneath lace or if you want the added stability of an additional layer under a mesh sequins (which is what I did for my sequin skirt), then a hem facing is the best way to finish your garment.

This dress is my own design from a few years ago, and I made it with a royal blue nylon lace overlay with a heavier cotton underlining for added stability and volume. I attached a hem facing so the lace is uninterrupted by the stitching lines of a hem. Side note: if an underlining isn’t necessary and the lace or sequins or eyelet or what have you is your only self fabric, then a regular hem is fine.

As you can see, this hem isn’t attached to the underlining yet. This dress has been living in the closet with a few other forgotten projects for some time now. There’s only hand sewing left to do–I’ll finish it eventually! 🙂

Another example of a special fabric that looks best with a hem facing is anything embellished. This is another one of my own designs from a couple years ago that is embellished with rhinestones and glass beads. Hand sewing all of it took quite a bit of time, and I knew that after that kind of investment that I didn’t want to ruin the aesthetics of the skirt with an ugly visible hem, so I attached a hem facing. (I actually sewed the hem facing before attaching the beads and rhinestones because I didn’t want to do too much else to the skirt after I had done the beadwork.)

I wore this one recently. Ignore the wrinkles.

And there you have it! I know hem facings are probably pretty obvious, but I hope this was helpful. I’m still working my around explaining all these things I’ve been doing for years now, so if I’ve left something out or if you have any questions, let me know. I’m so happy it’s Friday! I’ll be working on projects all weekend, and I can’t wait.

Happy Sewing!

8 COMMENTS

  1. @wendyvarnerdesigns | 26th Apr 17

    I love hem facings. I have some RTW with hem facings and I like the extra weight that it adds to the bottom. Makes me feel like I have on something a little more upscale. I haven’t tried it yet with my DIY but I’m definitely going to try it now! Do you add understitching?

    • Emily | 26th Apr 17

      Hi! Happy to “meet” another hem facings fan! 🙂

      Yes, I understitch the facings, every time. <3

  2. Samantha Cooper | 17th Dec 16

    I am a huge fan of your blog! I have learned so many new things, and new ways to do things I have had trouble with in the past. Please keep the info coming. Thank you!!!

    • Emily | 17th Dec 16

      Will do, Samantha! Thank you for the kind words. Lots of helpful posts on the way in the new year! 🙂

  3. Brittany Jones | 16th Dec 16

    Very informative!! I love this post and the examples you showed!! Your work is amazing!!! I’ll be testing our hem facings now!!!

    • Emily | 17th Dec 16

      Thanks, Brittany! I’m so glad it was helpful! Let me know how your hem facings turn out. I have a feeling you’ll love them! 🙂

  4. Danielle | 9th Dec 16

    I’m new to your blog after seeing three of your fabulous finished dresses on the McCall’s Facebook group. I am so happy I clicked the link you had shared for your blog, because I am finding your posts to be so helpful to someone who is still fairly new to garment sewing. I love learning new ways to make my finished items look more professional, and now I cannot wait to try a hem facing! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your techniques!

    • Emily | 9th Dec 16

      Hi, Danielle! I’m so glad you’re here, and I’m even happier that you are discovering helpful things here. That’s what it’s all about! If you ever have any questions or are curious about something specific, let me know. Thanks for stopping by, and have a wonderful weekend!

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