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 for sewing machines, that’d be cheaper. Or you might find someone who owns a hemstitcher who’d finish the hem of your dress with a picot hem for money. However, 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 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 the imitation picot hem 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. 😉
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). Try out what works best for your fabric and sewing machine.
If there are protruding threads after sewing, clip them close to the zig zag stitches.
This is a pretty hem finish for sheer and lightweight fabrics such as chiffon, georgette and satin. And it’s a secure hem finish – none of the stitches are torn out – even after frequent washing and wearing.
Here you’ll find more of my sewing tutorials.
6 thoughts on “1920s Imitation Picot Hem – Tutorial”
I like that I always learn a little more about fashion history when I visit your site. :)Thank you for sharing at Ravenwould.
Thanks for your lovely comment, Kileen! 🙂
I came across a copy of a 1920s fashion column with a “pattern” included. I read it hoping to replicate it, but I hadn’t heard of picot edging except in terms of crochet. I did some research and your article here has been the MOST helpful! Linking to your other article defining picot was key for me in solidifying my opinion that your imitation picot is the most closely resembling historical picot edging solution available to home sewists like myself! Thank you! I can’t wait to try it!
Thank you so much, Anna! 😀 I’m glad you find it helpful!
I tried it today and have decided that it is my new favorite way to finish a raw edge of lightweight fabrics! Thanks again!!
Thanks for letting me know and I’m happy that you like it! 😀 It’s my favorite way too to finish the hem of my 1920s dresses!