Alteration Season! A High-Low Hem Tutorial

by Connie on June 6, 2014 · 3 comments

A young client came in last week hoping that I would change a silk chiffon maxi dress to one with a high/low hem for her Grade 8 graduation.  I try not to advertise that I actually do alterations..but I seem to be getting more and more referrals lately.  I’m not afraid to say no, but a quick few dollars to save towards a new Juki industrial always comes in handy!  And Silk Chiffon! I will pick sewing with that over poly chiffon any day! Not to mention that this family is so lovely!

I was certain that this alteration wouldn’t take too long.  I actually enjoy doing baby hems – and have a great way to do it that I promise I will post in the next day or so.  The high/low part I hadn’t done before, but I figured that doing it would add one more piece of knowledge to my resume of life!

The client tried on the dress and we decided on the length that she was happy with.  (the dress on my dress form looks pretty short.  Be assured that my client is a tiny little thing and the dress is a perfectly appropriate length for her!)


Follow these steps to achieve Just the Right High-Low Hem Look!

highlow 1

Lay the dress out pinning the side seams together. Make certain your hemlines, any side seams and center front and back match up.  I cut the lining and main fabric as one since trying to finagle the lining out of the way would have been a sure road to remorseville!  *Note what I do with the lining length later on.

Mark the center front and center back.

You may now be tempted to take a ruler and draw a straight line from Center Front to Center Back.  DON’T DO THAT!  You will  achieve lines that are not as attractive as the way I am going to suggest. Just put your scissors down and keep reading!





This is the line you want to draw.  Start at the Center Front and using ribbon lay it out so that you are making a sideways S curve. The side seam should be about the mid point heightwise between the High Hem and the Low Hem.  You want to ensure a gradual – almost flat- beginning and end to your curve.  By that I refer to the Center Front (beginning) and Center Back (end).  Pin the ribbon to the fabric imagining that the top of the ribbon is your exact hemline. Nudge the ribbon into the shape you are trying to achieve.


Remember to allow for seam allowance.  I am doing a baby hem on this fabric so the seam allowance will be less than 3/8 of an inch. Here is a hint- if you use ribbon that is the width of your seam allowance you can cut along the bottom of the ribbon and the seam allowance will be just right!  Take a deep breath and grab those scissors… Did you do it? There is no going back now!

Hem the “Fashion Fabric” using whatever hem you feel comfortable with.  Or wait until my next post for my Banroll baby hem Tutorial!  It will make you want to hem chiffon all day long!

Try the dress on and see how much too long the lining is.  Trim – remembering again about seam allowance, and hem.

Now all you need to do is dance the night away!b5

b 3

b 4

And a closeup of that lovely baby hem! b1

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisette June 24, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Just beautiful!

Trudi June 18, 2015 at 10:18 am

I really would like to know how you achieved that lovely hem. I have sewed for more than 50 years and it is still my undoing.

Kimberley July 15, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Fabuous tip. How would you go about creating this effect to a circle skirt? I’m sewing a full-length circle skirt, but the top half uses a different fabric from the bottom. Rather than a straight across change, I’d like to use the high-low effect to switch between fabrics. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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