Frayed Hem Tutorial
Recently, a sewing friend requested a tutorial for how to make a frayed hem on a dolly denim skirt. It’s really easy! I designed my Lindsay Skirt with a frayed hem option, but it can be done to almost any straight skirt. I’m using a pattern from my sewing book, Sew in Style – Make Your Own Doll Clothes, to make this tutorial: the Simple Mini Skirt (page 38). This is a great first project for kids who want to learn to sew 🙂
I’m using a medium weight denim fabric. This will work with a chambray or twill as well. For beginners, make sure you have a light weight to medium weight denim. Avoid those really thick jean materials. And make sure you sew the skirt using a denim/jeans needle!
Okay, let’s do this.
Start by cutting out the fabric pieces. Be sure to follow the grain lines found on the pattern pieces. It works best to have the hem straight on the cross grain.
Trim a little off the hem if you want it to be the same size as if you were sewing it with a regular hem. Since the frayed part takes the place of the folding and sewing step, you may want to cut off 1/4″ or so. You can also square it up a bit (with the center back cut) if the pattern has a curve to hem (as most do and should).
To make the fringe (frayed hem), you will be removing several horizontal threads from the weave of the fabric. It works best to remove only one or two threads at a time. Do this by using a straight pin or needle. Poke the needle into fabric close to one side, along the very most bottom, along the hem edge of a skirt piece and pull it down and out. Pull enough, so you can grab it with your fingers, and can pull it all the way out.
The idea is to use the pin to separate the bottom most horizontal threads from the weave, so that it comes out easily. In denim fabric, the white threads shown are the horizontal in the weave of the fabric.
It’s easier to see the white cross threads from the wrong side of the fabric.
As you pull threads out, you will be left with only the vertical threads of the fabric weave. Continue doing this until the fringe (vertical threads remaining) measure about 1/8 to ¼ inch, or once it has the look you like. Trim any extra stray threads.
What to do if your pieces are not exactly straight on the grain? [Notice how mine was off grain a little? Even being the slightest bit off will show once you begin to pull those white threads out]
Don’t worry. You can pull some threads of the one side that has a shorter frayed part, pull them to the half way point. Then pull them up into the fraying and trim (as shown below). Do this to several white threads in the weave until the frayed hem looks more even.
Repeat for all the pieces in your pattern. For the mini skirt in Sew in Style, I did this on the front piece and both back skirt pieces.
Make sure all the frayed parts are even on all 3 pattern pieces. This is important, so the patterns will fit together nicely when you sew the skirt together.
Sew the skirt together. Follow the instructions on page 38-9 in Sew in Style. When you sew the side seams, make sure to line up the frayed hems, and start your stitching just above the fraying.
It’s important to stop the hem from continuing to fray once you are done sewing your skirt. After you sew the side seams and before adding the hook and loop tape, sew 2 rows of straight stitches just above the fraying.
Finish sewing up your skirt. Here’s the skirt I made.
After you wash and dry your skirt, the fraying will curl a bit and soften a lot! Over time, it becomes even better looking!
Here’s mine after washing and drying it just once. How cool is that?! And how easy this is to do!