How To Hem a Bubble Dress

Let me show you how easy it is to hem a bubble dress.

Here is a strapless gown that a customer brought in earlier this week:

bubble dress, 940

Sometimes, if the dress isn’t overly long, I can just tack the dress up at random spots and stitch a bar tack in to hold up the hem.

Most of the time, that is how I hem these bubble dresses.

But this dress needed to be taken up 2-5 inches at various spots around the hem.

It is a very easy process, but I want to tell you a few things along the way.

The bride tried this dress on, and I stuck pins in every 4-6 inches around the hemline:

pins in the hem of a bubble dress, 941

To clarify, on this type of a hem where alot of fabric needs to be shortened, I am not going to use bar tacks. What you need to do here is take up the same amount from the dress as you do from the lining. To do that, you are just going to sew the seam that attaches the dress to the lining, but just shorter. And you do this alteration by sewing just one seam all the way around.

So, let’s begin.

Once I was ready to start the hem, I made myself a diagram to show myself how much needed to be taken up at the various points on the hem.

I make diagrams because I like the visual.

You may come up with a different system of transferring those measurements.

This is how my little diagram looked:

diagram of measurements of a bubble hem, 942

CF stands for Center Front. CB stands for Center Back. SS stands for Side Seams.

The four darker lines represent side center seams (princess seamlines).

The numbers near each of the lines represent how much needed to be taken up in inches.

Just remember that when you turn the dress inside out, check to make sure that you have the left and right sides of the dress correct. It may now be a mirror image depending on what system you used for keeping track of the measurements

When you look at the hem of a bubble dress, usually, the lining is attached to the dress at the bottom of the hem. The dress side has gathers and the lining side does not. In the photo below, the dress is the puckered side and the lining is smooth:

lining of bubble dress, 944

So, I opened up a seam somewhere where it wouldn’t show or be a bother to the bride.

Here, I decided to open up the center back seam:

opening the lining of the bubble dress, 943

When I pulled the dress inside out, I pulled that hemline seam as flat as possible before I began to measure what I need to take up.

Here at the center back, I needed to take up 5 inches, using my seam gauge, so I put a pin at that point:

center back of bubble dress hem, 945

When I put a pin in place, I poke it through the topside:

poking a pin through to the front of the bubble dress, 946

and then I poke it through the bottom so that I can see that the seam lines match up:

poking a pin through the back of the bubble dress, 947

I’ll put a pin at each corresponding seam and at all the points in between.

You’ll find that this does not have to be done perfectly as you would for a regular dress hem.

But, you do want to make sure that none of the dress is stuck under your presser foot.

So, again to clarify, you’re going to have the front of the dress and the lining right sides together. In the photo below, you see the netting for the dress and underneath where you cannot see, is the lining fabric.

Begin sewing at the center back of the dress and “eyeball” it as you sew along, using the seam gauge to guide my sewing. Use your diagram to show you how much to take up at each spot along the hem. You’re going to sew in one continuous circle all the way around the hem.

bar tacking the bubble dress hem, 948

You’ll notice that you have much more dress fabric than lining fabric as you sew along the circumference of the dress, so you’ll need to work in gathers as you sew.

I suppose you could spend the time to stitch in a long basting stitch and pull those threads up, but it would take much longer and that isn’t necessary unless it gives you peace of mind.

The good thing is that no one sees the gathers when the dress is hanging.

bar tacks through all the layers on a bubble dress hem, 949

When you are finished sewing, trim the seam and turn the dress right side out.

Here are how my gathers look. (Top side of the seam line shown below).

gathers on bubble dress, 950

Once you turn the dress right side out, just machine stitch that opening closed.

And that’s all there is to it!

bubble hem all finished, 951

If you’d like to do any other alterations to a bubble dress,

here is How To Alter a Bubble Dress and Other “Closed” Garments. I think you’ll find it helpful.

The biggest fear people have in altering a bubble dress is how to get in and tackle it.

Once you know how to get into the dress, you stitch that one seam and you’re done!

Knowing that makes it much less intimidating.

Just have confidence in your ability and you’ll do great!