Shaping a flared hem with machine ease stitching



ease stitch

So lets talk about that magic trick called ease stitching or crowd stitching and how to use it when hemming a flared skirt. Hemming an a-line or bias cut skirt or dress can be a bit tricky since you’ll usually end up with surplus fabric at the edge since it’s wider than the area where you turn up the fabric. This was the case with the Burdastyle button front skirt.


tutorial_ease stitching hem

Since I’m currently all about trying out new sewing methods I decided to use my beloved ease stitching/crowd stitching method to ease in the hem. And then use the blind hemmer foot to stitch the hem. And it worked brilliantly with zero hand stitching involved! So I thought I should share my method for easing a flared hem.

tutorial_ease st_20160825_2085

1. Prepare for the ease stitch

Set the machine on straight stitching, a smaller stitch will create more gathers. Here I used the default stitch length and it worked well. Press a little piece of fabric against the back of the presser foot with your index fingers.


ease stitch

2. Begin ease stitching

Start sewing while gently but firmly pressing the finger. This will ease the fabric making the edge smaller. The fabric fold will grow gradually and after a little while I release the finger and let the fold go and then start fresh with a new small fold. I don’t have an exact point where I let the fabric go and start again, it’s just based on trying and see how it feels. The more you press the more the fabric will shrink. This is also a really great way to ease in a sleeve or getting a neckline that has grown into shape again.

Check the hem and see that it lines up, if not you can always repeat the process.


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3. Machine blind stitch the hem

I love, love, love my blind hemmer presser foot. The trick to get invisible stitching is to carefully adjust the stitch width so that the needle just touches a few strands of the fabric. I like to sew the blind stitch over a flat looked seam because that hides the stitching well.

tutorial_ease st_20160825_2079

4. Inside the finished hem

Can you spot the subtle gathers?  They are definitely there but they won’t show up on the right side of the skirt, which is all that matters.

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5. Hem from the right side

As you can see the hem is really curved, so I had plenty of extra fabric to gather, but thanks to the ease stitch method I made all that surplus fabric disappear!

ease stitching


  • Lynsey
    August 27, 2016 at 10:48 am

    I’ve never heard of this method or one like it so I’m thrilled to see it as usually I end having to add pleats where the fabric gapes, I’m going to give this a go and hopefully end up with a much neater hem than my other attempts. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

    • Johanna
      August 27, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      Yes it’s such a simple and nifty method that deserves more recognition, plus it’s real easy to get the handle on. I think you will find it very useful!

  • Karen Caron (Karensquared)
    August 27, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    I have never heard of this method either. I can’t wait to try it!

    • Johanna
      August 27, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      I think you’ll really like it and it can be used for so many things, I also use it to ease back the waist if it has grown before I had time to apply the waistband

  • linda
    August 27, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    I think, since you used your serger on the hem anyway, that you could have the same effect by just using the differential feed to gather.

    I do enjoy your blog and am envious of your trip to Sicily!

    • Johanna
      August 28, 2016 at 8:59 am

      You’re right, the differential feed should be able to this too, but my machine doesn’t gather enough even on the highest setting, I don’t know why really. If I use the flatlock on a woven bias for instance, the highest setting just keeps it true to size, i.e stops it from growing. Oh well. Happy to hear that enjoy my blog, and hope you get the chance to go Sicily one day (if you haven’t before). It’s a wonderful place to go on a vacation!

  • […] Ease stitching to shape a flared hem […]

  • […] sometimes be some excess fabric in the hem that needs to be eased in. Luckily I have a tutorial for how to ease in a flared hem using the blind hem stitch and finger easing. Works like a […]

  • Jill
    May 12, 2023 at 12:39 pm

    Thank you for this. I am unable to find stretch lace hem tape in a suitable color for a long costume dress. I didn’t want to cut the hem in case I want to sell it when I am done and the buyer is taller than I am. I will give this a try


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