In the 1920s, the hem of sheer and lightweight dresses were often finished with a picot hem. But unless you’re lucky and own an antique hemstitching machine, you’ll need an alternative. So, in this tutorial, I’ll show you how to sew an imitation 1920s picot hem.
- a dress in need of a hem 😉
- a sewing machine which can do zig-zag stitches
1920s Real Picot Hem
If you want a real picot hem for your 1920s dress, there are three alternatives: Sometimes double needle hemstitching machines are still sold today, but they’re quite expensive, they cost much more than antique sewing machines. Or you can buy a one needle hemstitching attachment which is suitable for sewing machines, that’d be cheaper. Or you might find someone who owns a hemstitcher who might do a picot hem on your dress for money. However be warned, not all that’s nowadays called hemstitching, is real hemstitching. Here I wrote an article about what’s a real 1920s picot hem (including videos of real hemstitching machines). I’d love to have a double needle hemstitcher but I haven’t found one yet. But I wanted a picot hem for my sheer 1920s dresses, so I came up with this imitation picot edge. I use this picot edge on nearly all of my 1920s dresses.
1920s Imitation Picot Hem Tutorial
In this tutorial I’m finishing the scalloped hem of my 1920s pink rayon georgette polka dot dress.
Zig-zag carefully along the cut edge. Don’t go too fast. The right lockstitch has to be just outside the fabric to secure the threads; while the left lockstitch has to be a good way inside the dress fabric so that the stitching won’t tear out – but not too much or it won’t look pretty 😉 . You might have to try out what works best for your kind of fabric and sewing machine.
I usually use 2 as stitch length (my sewing machine has a stitch length between 0 and 5) and something between 2 and 4 as stitch width (my sewing machine has a stitch width between 0 and 4). And my hem never got torn even after frequent washing and wearing.
After sewing you might have to clip some of the protruding threads.
Here you’ll find more of my lace tutorials:
- How to make broderie anglaise by hand
- How to make Edwardian Bermuda fagoting
- How to attach lace the Edwardian way (3 methods)
- Edwardian lace insertion tutorial (with hand-rolled hem)
- How to make an Edwardian lace yoke
- How to attach lace to a gathered edge