It can never be assumed that creating a smooth hemline on the pattern is all that is needed to achieve a level hemline. Attending to the pattern is the first important step; however, after the garment is stitched, leveling the hem on a person or form must be attended to.
Hemlines are often cut on all three fabric grain-lines: lengthwise, crosswise, and bias. This is especially so for a circular hemline. Each grainline drops at different levels on the hem edge. For this reason, the hem needs to be leveled.
Using a Skirt Marker
The hemline should sit parallel to the floor unless it is asymmetrical. To level the hem of skirts, dresses, and coats, we advise using a skirt marker. There are two types of skirt marker available to help level the hem: the pin-marker and the chalk marker.
Follow these tips for leveling the hem:
After ascertaining the finished length of the hemline, add the hem allowance and pin-mark this length, by placing a pin horizontally in the garment. Have the customer or fit model wear the garment. Ask her to stand on a table (if possible), otherwise you will need to crouch on the floor; this can he a backbreaking job for the designer.
Always ask the customer to wear shoes that will be worn with the garment. The height of the shoe affects the finished length. The higher the shoes, the shorter the garment will look. Place the skirt marker on a flat surface and adjust the lever to the pin-mark.
Move the skirt marker around the hem or ask your customer or model to turn slowly as you pin or chalk-mark the hem. When a fit model is not available, place the garment on a form and the form on the table. Move the skirt marker around the entire hem edge, and mark the length parallel to the floor. Lay the garment on a flat surface; trim the excess fabric off.
Without a Dress Form or Person
If a form or person is not available to level the hem, then it can be done on the workroom table as follows. This method is not as accurate as using the skirt marker but is better than not doing it at all.
Skirt – Fold the skirt in half with the center front on the fold. Place the garment flat on a table. Measure from waistline to hemline; move the tape measure around the skirt and pin-mark the skirt length. Add the hem allowance and cut away the excess fabric.
Dress – On a dress, establish the waistline and pin-mark. Measure from the pin-mark to the hem, following the previous instructions for the “skirt.”