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  • Writer's pictureLonda

How-To for Angled Hemlines

As I have conducted jacket workshops around the country, I’ve found how very attractive ANGLED hemlines can be on ladies!  Especially what I call a ‘French’ line to the bottom of a jacket:  longer in the front AND back, but angling up at the sides gives a very slenderizing, long-legged silhouette and really solves the issue of ‘length’ for those who want it ‘long enough to cover the hips’, yet who realize that ‘cutting one in half’ is not a design principle smart thing to do…  It’s been fun to see the smiles come across faces when I suggest, and fold up an angled hemline at one of my creative sewing workshops or retreats.

Observe on the teal jacket below (my Genesis Plus Talking Pattern™) how ‘sharp’ it looks with even the subtly angled hemline compared to the look it would have had if I had made it straight around, horizontal.  If executing a turned up hem allowance, this definitely presents some challenges.  Let’s explore how to handle shaped hemlines…


Step-by-step, here is how to do the back hemline which really requires a hem allowance dart since when the back was cut (whether with a seam OR on a fold), this center back angle was not yet decided, but rather as part of fitting and design.  Think about it: at the top edge of the hem as it is turned up, there is LESS circumference than at the center back because of the angle of the hemline. The side seam hems are really just the opposite.  More on that later.


Do you see the excess in the hem allowance?  Doesn’t that look like a dart?  The depth of it needs to be marked for accurate stitching.  Below, at the left, see that I snipped into the top edge right at the center back location.  This is done on both sides of the excess. Do you see in the next m photo that the chalked line is an exact mirror image of the seam line above?  What you see in the 2nd photo is exactly how the hem allowance would have been drafted if this hem silhouette had been part of the original design.  ‘Truing a hem allowance is as simple as folding up the hem and cutting along the cut line of the angled seam.  However, this is possible only IF you have established an angled hem BEFORE cutting out the garment AND know the EXACT length.  Since that kind of knowledge is rarely what I personally sew/design with, I have to know how to ‘make it work’, understanding the principle shown.


In the 3rd photo above, note the stitching then on the chalked line.  Next, all than excess ‘seam allowance’ needs to be trimmed away, and the original seam un-stitched to allow the seam to press open.  Trim away any excess fabric at the fold line as shown in the 3rd photo below.



Here, then is the final result of the hem allowance stitched properly so that it ‘fits’ the angled body silhouette.


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