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Threads eLetter

Keep Straight Skirt Hems Perpendicular to the Lengthwise Grain

If a straight skirt doesn't fit properly, it's hard to make the hem fold on the cross grain of the fabric -- an off-grain hem is especially noticeable in plaid or horizontal stripe fabric. To keep the hem on the cross grain, adjust the fit of the skirt at the waist and hips before you put the waistband on. Get a friend to help you:

First: Hand-baste a line perpendicular to the lengthwise grain at the hip level on your skirt front and back. This is the horizontal balance line, or HBL. Put the skirt on and tie some elastic around your waist.

To fit: Shift the skirt under the elastic around the waist until the HBL is parallel to the floor all the way around and the side seams are vertical, using a plumb line and a yardstick as references. The waist need not be level. Pin adjustments to the shape of the darts or top of the side seams if needed. Mark the new waistline.

Resew the dart and side seams as pinned. Add the waistband to the new waistline. You're ready to mark the hem, it will now be on the cross grain.

-- Sarah Veblen

Adapted from "Fitting a Straight Skirt," Threads magazine, December 2003/January 2004 (#110), p. 28; drawings: Linda Boston.

© 2004 The Taunton Press, Inc.

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