Customizing a Simple Skirt

As you may remember, last week I promised my version of customization, a la The Great British Sewing Bee. I have been struck by the ‘flu this week ( boo!), so this is a little late coming to you but I love the outcome so much, I thought I’d share! I am also really proud of myself for finally starting to make a few more pieces of clothing for myself! After so many years making Costumes for films it’s a little hard to get back in to the swing of things… … I had made this Skirt from a Silk Linen mix I fell in love with and bought at McCulloch & Wallis when I lived in London. I am actually not all that fussed about the fabric any more- you think Silk is difficult to work with? Try Silk Linen, it moo-oooves!! But, I hate to waste it and decided that all I needed to do was shorten the length and it would be completely wearable again. After seeing what some of the contestants did last week with their Skirts, no way was I going to simply hem this! Unlike Patrick Grant, I rather like Scallops so I decided to re-hem with a Scallop edge. Here’s how I did it. scallop hem 12 First, I measured the new length, and cut the excess off of the bottom of the skirt. Next I made a loose pattern for the Scallop, to judge the correct depth. I then cut a Strip of fabric a little longer than the Skirt hem and a couple centimetres deeper than the Scallop. Next, I measured the correct length of the new hem (around the Skirt), and divided the width of the Scallop in to it. For example my hem measured 195cm and I wanted my Scallop to have a width of 10cm. This meant I could fit 19 Scallops around the hem, with a 5cm gap. Because I obviously didn’t want a gap, I decided to make my Scallop pattern 2mm wider to fit. Finally, I used the pattern to trace the Scallop on to the strip of fabric.

scallop hem1  scallop hem 2

I used some coloured Tailors Chalk, so it was a little easier to see, then pinned the fabric- which is now a facing- on to the bottom of the skirt. Because this fabric was a little crazy to work with I pinned, smoothed out, and then pinned some more!


I then marked a point 2cm below the top of the Scallop (which you can see above). This is so I didn’t sew too far up the Scallop, which makes it difficult to turn out.

Lining the edge of the Presser Foot up with my drawn line, I then stitched around the Scallops. At the top, I stitched across by just a couple of stitches at most (the dotted line above).

scallop hem 4 scallop hem 5

After stitching around the entire hem, I trimmed each scallop and clipped right up in to the corner of each Scallop top. The further you can clip, the neater each will turn out…

scallop hem 8

Above shows a Scallop corner which hasn’t been clipped correctly. I always think it looks like you have accomplished something terrifically wrong! You just need to clip up in to the corner some more…

scallop hem 9

And above clearly illustrates how neat it looks when a corner is clipped properly! Lovely, isn’t it?

Next, press the hem whilst carefully helping each Scallop to turn out beautifully. I like to pin them to the ironing board to help out!

Back on the sewing machine, line your Zipper Foot (to stitch nice and close) up with the edge of the fabric and Top Stitch continuously around the edge of each Scallop. I have Top Stitched a little further away from the edge of the fabric than I normally would, but this was because the fabric was slipping and moving about too much and I wanted to steady it a little.

scallop hem 10 scallop hem 11

After giving everything another press, I turned the top edge of the facing over towards the back to hide all the raw edges, then hand stitched a hem and I was finished!

It’s a pretty quick fix for a Skirt, and makes a pretty edge whilst changing the look. I’m not sure what marks May would have given me but I like it!

Oh, and that is a Vintage Jones Sewing Machine being put to good use up there! I snaffled it for just £2 at a Summer Fete a couple years ago and it’s just lovely to work on!

Don’t forget I will be continuing to follow along with the Great British Sewing Bee as it happens. Watch out for posts on converting the A-Line Skirt Pattern to a pleated skirt, lapped Zips and piping tips.

Happy stitching!

2 thoughts on “Customizing a Simple Skirt

  1. Thanks for these instructions, I love that edge. I saw someone else had made a scalloped skirt and now you’ve told me how to do it, there’s really no excuse.

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