Cutting Jersey Knits
August 8, 2011 7:25 PM   Subscribe

I just bought this dress, and I need to shorten it. It has a raw hem, so all I need to do, theoretically, is measure and cut. I know the trick for cutting a straight line on woven fabric (thank you 8th grade Home Ec!), but have no idea how to ensure an even cut on Jersey. Tips? Tricks?
posted by ereshkigal45 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Put a piece of interfacing or wide tape (even painter's masking tape will do in a pinch, anything that's not super-sticky) along the inside of the hem, and make your cut THROUGH the tape. It will stabilize the fabric enough to give you a straight line, and you can just peel it off when you're done. As an added bonus, you can draw your cut line right onto it.
posted by ella wren at 7:36 PM on August 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

I'd use a gauge and a chalk pencil to measure an even distance from the hem every 1.5 to 2 inches, and cut carefully along the resulting dotted line. As you measure, be careful not to stretch the fabric so the distance stays even.

After you're done cutting, you may wish to anchor any seams that cross the hem in place with a couple of hand stitches, just so they don't unravel.
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:39 PM on August 8, 2011

I would strongly suggest using a rotary cutter if you can get your hands on one. It'll avoid the scissored edge that you're trying to avoid. Grab an old teeshirt to practice on and you should be good to go.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 7:57 PM on August 8, 2011

Rotary cutter and a clear quilt ruler. They're cheap at the fabric store and useful for many things.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:01 PM on August 8, 2011

That dress fabric is cut on a biases. The most accurate way to hem the dress is to put the dress on and have some one pin up the hem to the proper length.
posted by JujuB at 8:02 PM on August 8, 2011

If you bought it through Nordstrom, could you possibly use their in-house tailors?
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:06 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Iris, I'm too cheap to pay them for that - especially for such a cheap dress. I don't mind paying for alterations for good clothes that I'm going to keep for a long time, but this is one of those dresses that I'll wear for the rest of this summer, and maybe next summer, by which time it will start to look ratty.

Thanks, all, for the advice. I'll see about picking up a rotary cutter tomorrow. Don't know if I can get someone to help me pin it up before I leave on vacation. I may have to just wing it, but I'm hoping that armored with all of your tips and suggestions it won't be too much of a hack job.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 9:55 PM on August 8, 2011

One thing I have learned the hard way is if your boobs are smaller than your butt: if you lay the dress flat on the floor when you cut the dress, the back will end up looking shorter than the front because your butt hikes up the length more than your boobs do. Having f'd this up numerous times myself before I figured out the geometry that is causing the issue (I SWEAR I measured it, dammit!) I start by either giving myself room for error (cut it too long first, you can always cut more off later) or curving the back so it's a little longer than the front.

Also, if you go to a dry cleaner and have them pin it for you and explain beforehand that you do not want them to do the alterations and just give them a couple of bucks for pinning it, you will get a more reliable guide.
posted by 8dot3 at 5:30 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Did you buy it during the anniversary sale? If not (i.e. if you paid full price for it) the alterations are free.
posted by peep at 9:43 AM on August 9, 2011

Measure up from the floor, not down from the waistline.

You may need a friend, a yardstick, and a piece of chalk to ensure your hem is parallel with the ground instead of askew due to lady-curves.
posted by jessicapierce at 9:53 AM on August 9, 2011

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