Inspiration: Dresses with Asymmetrical Hems

One of the many reasons why I love reading sewing blogs is at any moment, a project could come across my RSS feed that makes me stop everything and make one myself. That is exactly what happened when I came across this chevron high low hem dress.

Stephanie, from makes the things, is a sewing muse and everything she makes is chic and oh-so-wearable! This particular dress is what I want to be in all summer long.

Last Friday, I started drafting my version in class and I think I’m finished with the pattern. Now I’m just plotting out the construction details. This is where you come in! I’d like the waist to be elastic but, like Stephanie, I’m finding that elastic in a casing shifts too much. I’m considering sewing in elastic directly but last time I did this (with a three step zig zag) it was sloppy looking on the right side. I’d like the elastic waist to be as inconspicuous as possible. I’m sure there are several ways to accomplish this so I’d like to hear how you would do it. Also, what type of elastic should I use? I was thinking clear elastic might be a good option but I’m wondering if it would be too lightweight. I’m using a very fine rayon challis for the first version and a lightweight silk/cotton for the second. I don’t think I’ll line either of them.

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27 Comments to “Inspiration: Dresses with Asymmetrical Hems”

  1. So cute! I can’t wait to see the final product. As for the elastic, we usually add vertical machine tacks at CB and SS to prevent the elastic from twisting. If you add the tacks and keep the interior channel, I definitely suggest to use a woven elastic (not clear elastic). If you decide against the interior channel, clear elastic would work and you can encase it between the bodice and skirt seam allowances.

    • So if I’m not going to have a casing, I would sew the clear elastic to the skirt (or bodice) with the seam allowances lying over it. Is this what you’re saying? Would you use a zig zag stitch for this? 3 step or 2 step?

      • H&M does it in a lot of their dresses. It’s a cheaper construction method than an inside casing. Basically the seam allowances of the bodice and the skirt become a casing. Do you have a serger? If so, insert the elastic between the seam allowances as you serge them. If you don’t have a serger (maybe your school has one you could use?), I assume a zigzag stitch would work just as well and it would be sewn the same way as I said before (although I have never done this construction with a zigzag stitch). The amount of steps for the zigzag depends on how much stretch you want. I always do a test stitch first and then decide. Does this make sense?

        • I understand now. Would there be any problems with the seam allowances lying flat? Would I want to understitch it or otherwise tack the seam allowance down after serging the elastic? Thanks, Maddie!

        • You got me on my lunch break so I can respond to you quickly. I would tack the seam allowances down at CB and SS; I would not understitch it. If you understitch it with a straight stitch, the stitch won’t have any stretch and would break easily. If you tack it down at CB and SS, the seam allowances will lay flat/down just as you wanted.

        • You’re brilliant! Thank you, Maddie. I’m going to try this out if I decide to go against the casing.

        • Email me and let me know how it works out. You and I know a lot about sewing but we’re not always right. There’s always something new to learn and that’s what I love about this hobby!

  2. This morning I was just reading about an elastic application I’d never heard of before: using elastic thread in the bobbin only, and doing 4 parallel rows of stitching. Here’s the link: http://www.thesoutherninstitute.com/2010/06/anna-maria-horner-museum-tunic-tutorial.html

    It may not be what you want for your dress (it has the potential to be a little wide) but I wanted to share it with you. And now I’m off to check out this gal’s blog!

  3. I’ve done an elastic waist where I just sewed it directly with a zizag on both sides of the elastic, I guess kind of like you said. It worked pretty well, but it just took a lot of pinning =D

  4. I have a black velvet skirt with this style of hem, and it makes something fairly simple and boring into something quite special; it also allows you to have your skirt a bit shorter in front than you normally would because the back makes up for it in modesty LOL.

    Not sure about a dress version but my skirt is an elastic waist and it doesn’t shift at all, but since it’s RTW, I’m not sure why…. perhaps the elastic is sewn in on both sides at the seam, or perhaps the fabric is heavy enough to keep it in place? I’ll have to inspect it and get back to you LOL

  5. Hmm… tricky – I don’t have a ton of experience in doing elastic casings – but I think I’d probably do the casing and the tacks at CB and SS like Maddie suggests – I think thats what I’ve seen on most RTW designs.
    I also went nuts over this dress when Stephanie posted it. I’m definitely feeling inspired by the high/low hems – it just seems so… billowy 🙂

  6. Thanks for the shout-out, Lizz!

    Next time I make this dress I’m going to use a lightweight, drapey fabric, slash n’ spread for more gathers aaaand I’m doing a waistband. I think. I have some really nice thick woven elastic from Pam at Off the Cuff. That elastic plus tacking would probably work well.

  7. Lizz, I’ve done the same technique Maddie describes, and it is very comfortable. (I did this on this dress. The Vogue pattern called for a casing but I felt that was too much for such a thin knit. I made the SAs of the waist seams 5/8″ so I could sandwich 1/2″ elastic in them, then I serged the SA edges together, then folded down the whole sandwich toward the skirt and tacked at the side seams. I’ve worn this dress about 20 times and the elastic doesn’t move or flip.

    Everyone’s making me want a hi-lo hem dress, too!

  8. No wonder you picked that dress, Lizz – it’s soooo pretty! I love chevrons!! I’m always amazed by people making their own patterns… so clever 🙂 Look forward to seeing the finished piece!

    I’m having a giveaway if you might be interested?

    Catherine x
    http://notdressedaslamb.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/giveaway-revintage-jewellery.html

  9. I have the same problem of my zig zag stitched looking sloppy on the front. I don’t mind the elastic shifting in a casing but I just had a thought that might work – what about zig zag stitching the elastic to what would be the inside casing (the part that doesn’t show on the outside of the dress) then stretching the casing to fit the dress and stitching it like you normally would stitch the casing? It also might be good practice for if you ever want to just zig zag stitch the elastic to the dress sans casing all together. More work than just tacking the elastic down, though.

    I, too, love that chevron dress and the high-low trend going on right now!

  10. I was also thinking about 2-3 rows of shirring (with elastic thread) so you get a nice shape and then hide them under the fabric belt you’d make from the same fabric.
    Also, love the dress!

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