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This Weeks Challenge – A Lettuce Hem Prom Dress

Posted on Mar 8, 2014 by in Featured, Latest Projects, Prom |

Fear can be a paralysing thing. We all have things we fear, or are atleast a little anxious about. Something that we lay awake at night worrying over and analysing. For me, this week, it was a prom dress; with a unique hem.

The dress had been waiting for me in the sewing studio; almost as though it was teasing or baiting me to come work on it. Each day for over a week, I would walk by it, hanging in it’s place on the rack, and I could swear it was mocking me.

The unique hem on this dress is called a ‘lettuce leaf hem’, because of the curly frilly fullness of it. It is very pretty – but, for me atleast, very intimidating!

2014-03-05 14.37.19 On this particular dress, the hem was done in the most difficult of fabrics – very fine tulle. Five layers of very fine tulle. Each layer about 10 yards in length.

To accomplish this frilly look, the tulle needs to be cut off to the exact length needed. Then fishing line is sewn right on to the very edge of this hem. The fishing line gives the fabric it’s unique curl.

I was intimidated to say the least. But, finally, I knew I could put it off no longer. I put the dress on the dressform and sat and looked at it, examining it, for about 20 minutes. I knew there had to be an easier way. And there was! I’ve only done a waist hem a few times; mostly because they can’t be done on many dresses without altering the entire skirt. But upon examing how this dress was constructed, I decided it could be done.

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First up, was to carefully remove all the appliques at the waist and the top of the skirt.

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Next, I separated the bodice from the skirt layers. After raising all the skirt layers to the appropriate length, I pinned them in place, using a pin about every 1/4 inch or so for security. I needed to add gathers to the new skirt waistline to ease in the fullness of the skirt, but that was ok, because it had been slightly gathered to begin with.

Now, I carefully sewed the bodice and skirt back together. Next up was to put all those appliques back on! First I pinned them in place –

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Each applique was hand sewn back onto the outer most layer of tulle. Finally, several hours and a sore back later, it was finished!

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I know you can’t see in the picture, but the hem was raised about 5 inches at the front, tapering to nothing at a point just past the side seams. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. I do still need to learn to do that Lettuce leaf hem, but I think I would rather tackle it on a different fabric, such as chiffon or organza!