Tutorial: DIY scallop hem for skirts, dresses, shorts or tops


Supplies: A too-long skirt, iron, thread, a circular template, fabric chalk, scissors, and a butterknife or chopstick

Last weekend, I watched one of my younger brothers, Ed, graduate and was beaming with pride the entire time. I can’t wait for him to settle into the Bay Area for grad school, so big sis can invite herself over and gorge on all the good eats there. During our long drive home from graduation, I mentioned that I’d been meaning to post the steps for this skirt, but had no spare skirts or scrap fabric to recreate the hem. Ed offered to whip up a simple animated tutorial. I had no idea what to expect, especially since I was certain he dozed off while I yapped on about the detailed steps. A few late nights of editing later, I think he did a great job conveying the basic concept (& the nice manicure was a bonus)!

*The below can only be viewed in flash-enabled browsers (ie. not on iPhones). Click play to begin.*

Scallop template: Before you begin any cutting or sewing, it may take some playing around with circular objects (tuna can, pasta jar lid, etc) to find one that will fit a whole number of times across the hem of your skirt. You can do trial and error, or measure the total width across your hem and divide it by the # of desired scallops to get a scallop diameter measurement. I did this, then searched in my kitchen for a flat circular object with the same diameter 1/3rd of the way up from the bottom.

Scallop design: I messed up my skirt the first time around, and pinpointed the issues to the shape and number of scallops. I recommend more obtuse angles between scallops for easier snipping (Step 9), which will result in cleaner corners and edges after the skirt is flipped right-side out and “shaped.” As mentioned in a previous post, my first attempt with ~7 super-defined half circles came out looking like a Flinstones tunic. The second time around, I reduced the number of scallops to 6, used a larger circular template, and marked the circle 1/3rd of the way up (Step 5) for more shallow “waves” instead of deep half circles. Based on reader feedback, it looks like between 1/4th to 1/3rd of the way up results in ideal scallops. 

Ideal fabric: My skirt was a thin, stiffer cotton/poly blend, and I think precise detailing like shaped edges will come out best on similar material types. Sewers with experience may recommend using interfacing on the hem area. I didn’t have any and am not sure what the exact benefits of interfacing are, so if anyone can shed light on that it’d be helpful. I also want to note that the tutorial does not show serging the edges of raw fabric after the initial long skirt was cut. If you don’t have a serger, you can try one or two layers of zig-zag stitching to lessen any fraying.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and please let me know if you have any questions! (Note: This is a scheduled post, but I will do my best to answer your questions upon my return)


84 thoughts on “Tutorial: DIY scallop hem for skirts, dresses, shorts or tops

  • Anonymous May 19, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    WOW! Jean, this is an amazing tutorial. You are so creative and awesome. I just want to thank you so much for sharing this with us. I'm so inspired by your amazing work, I'm gonna give this a try. Again, Thanks so much. You're amazingly awesome!!!


  • Shira May 19, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    I can't even sew a button, let alone do this but ahhh now I'm going to bring my simple black pencil skirt to the tailor so she can make me a scalloped skirt:)


  • Anonymous May 19, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    thanks jean for posting even though you are on vacation! you inspired me to try a sewing/DIY project. what sewing machine do you recommend for beginners?

  • Angie | Pandaphilia.com May 19, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    this is very clever and gives a cute vintage vibe. your bro is handy with the computer skills! congrats to him for graduating too.

    i'm also having a giveaway for designer PETITE jeans that would look great on you and your readers!

  • Emily S. May 19, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Whoa! Your brother is awesome! As are you. A lot of smarts in one family.

  • Petite-ish May 19, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Wow, this tutorial is amazing and so original. So impressed by the animation your brother made, clearly creative talent runs in the family!

  • Claire May 19, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Can you tell me what kind of fabric your skirt is made out of? In other words, what kind of fabric will work best with this technique? I've sewn a bit with interfacing. I can see that interfacing will reinforce the scallop, making it a bit more rigid/stiff and hold the shape better. I'd use the thinnest interfacing posible (like the one for reinforcing the pocket of a blouse, as opposed to stiff interfacing for the collar of the blouse) so the skirt still has a nice flow to it, although I'm not sure at what point one would insert the interfacing. Some interfacing has adhesive side, so you can iron it on, some doesn't and attaches to the fabric by sewing.

    Nice, creative tutorial!


  • Franziska May 19, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Jean, that tutorial was amazing! I have no idea how he did that, but it was so much fun to watch. He's a very talented man! Now I need to keep my eyes open for a skirt at Goodwill. Thanks for the inspiration lady 🙂

  • Cee May 19, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    Simple? Ha! Coolest brother ever. Job well done by your explanations and his coding & drawing skillz!

    I don't know if this will work, but I wonder if you can upload the swf file (I'm assuming?) to Youtube and then embed it into your post as you normally do for videos.

  • Cee May 19, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Scratch what I said. I don't think the buttons will work once the file is converted to a video format. It's probably best to upload the swf file somewhere first, then direct link it into your post.

  • simplybeccablog May 19, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Jean this is an amazing tutorial! I love how your little brother made the animations, it is so easy to understand even for someone who doesn't sew! Thanks for this tutorial!

  • meowycrystal May 19, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    You are greaaaat!!!! I love the tutorial!! :DDD The animation is simple yet good enough to understand every step! Hope you can keep on doing this so that I can learn more 😛 heheee Many thanks for your great efforts x

  • New Petite May 19, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    That is a very well explained tutorial. I have never tried it but you make it sound simple enough for me to try.

  • Victoria Meyers May 19, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    the skirt is so cute and the tutorial is even cuter! i hope i can find some time soon to give it a try.

  • Michelle Huynh May 19, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    I absolutely love your brother's animation! I totally understood the entirety of your tutorial. I need to try this out with one of my pencil skirts tomorrow!

  • Alterations Needed May 20, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Holy smokes! Your brother could make a nice side income for himself by making animations for DIY bloggers! That was AWESOME!

  • Anonymous May 20, 2013 at 1:28 am

    this is so cute! i love the grumpy animated face at the beginning!

  • Nora May 20, 2013 at 6:27 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Nora May 20, 2013 at 6:28 am

    I really enjoyed the tutorial. It was cute and simple, and best of all easy to follow. You should get your brother to do more tutorials for you!

  • Flora Amies May 20, 2013 at 6:37 am

    This is the best DIY sewing tutorial I've ever seen.I don't know the first thing about sewing but I really want to give this a try – the animated tutorial REALLY helps with this as it gives me the confidence I need…it's kind of like you're doing it with me step-by-step! Great idea, I'd love to see more tutorials like this as it makes me SO much more inclined to give it a go.

    I was given a 'get started' sewing kit by my housemates girlfriend yesterday as a birthday present – I'll show her this and see if she will help me!

    Flora x


  • MissLilly May 20, 2013 at 8:26 am

    brilliant tutorial!

  • racingcourne May 20, 2013 at 8:32 am

    What cute animation!

  • Stephanie May 20, 2013 at 8:36 am

    I think interfacing is similar to the iron-on fabric people use to help mend jeans or add patches to worn out elbows. It's stiffer, so when you cut the fabric you will probably get a sharper edge? That's my best guess, and also on top of that if you are doing it with slightly flimsier fabric, it will make it easier to handle.

    Now I just need to get me an old frumpy skirt and a sewing machine (haha…my grandma has one but it's ANCIENT even though it works!)

  • Anita May 20, 2013 at 10:10 am

    This was an AWESOME tutorial! I've been looking fw to your tut for the scalloped skirt, and to get the bonus animation was a fantastic bonus! Now I want to try the scallop AND learn how to animate! Does Ed have any recc's for learning basic animation?


  • Anonymous May 20, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Great tutorial. It's easy to follow and understand. Well done!

  • Van Nguyen May 20, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Great idea. Can't wait to try it. Your brother did a great job with the tutorial.

  • SydneysFashionDiary.com May 20, 2013 at 11:16 am

    What an awesome tutorial (and brother)! I am a visual learner and definitely respond best to illustrations and pictures. Can't wait to get my sewing machine out of the storage and try this. Have a great time in London, Jean!

  • Joules May 20, 2013 at 11:25 am

    I have to try this! I love the tutorial vid–your bro did a great job!

    Also, jealous of the San Fran connection. I had the best sushi I've ever had outside of Japan there.

  • Vivian May 20, 2013 at 11:34 am

    This was such an easy tutorial to follow, thanks!!

  • Dice May 20, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Wow! talent sure runs in your family. =) Your brother did a great job with the tutorial! I'm sure your brother will love the Bay Area as there's plenty of good eats here.

  • 3girls1apple May 20, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    This is genius!!!


  • Candice May 20, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Thank you for this tutorial and the video was cute and to the point. I love these posts because I really want to try these DIY projects. They seem doable for someone without much sewing experience.

  • thedemuremuse.com May 20, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Your brother did an AMAZING job with this tutorial. The steps you provided are at the perfect level of detail and the graphics and animations he used to bring the whole story together makes for an awesome, easy-to-follow DIY project. I'm excited to try this out!


  • Ann May 20, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Your bro is talented!
    Intelligence runs in the family!
    Btw, grad school or undergrad? I've always thought your bro was just in his late teens!

  • R.L. May 20, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    What a cute animation, I especially enjoyed the facial expressions on cartoon Jean! Your brother did a fantastic job. I hope you can convince him to do more in the future!

  • Midori May 20, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    yer bro is amazing

  • Vicky May 20, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Now that's a quality post that you don't see around that often. Thank you for taking the time and pain to put this together. Congratulations to your brother again. You must be so so proud of him.

  • kimmie May 20, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Amazing tutorial! I had wanted to do a scallop hem on one of my skirts awhile ago, but I took a look and decided that it was just too difficult, but now looking at your tutorial I think I might be able to do it. Thanks for the inspiration and awesome animated tutorial!! 🙂

  • lisacng @ expandng.com May 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    I love the animation, good job lil bro! Very lovely tutorial, as always!

  • ACakeStory May 20, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    This is amazing. Thank you thank you thank you! You made this so approachable. I can't sew but it doesn't seem so intimidating anymore. 🙂

  • Melanie May 20, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    seriously — how cute is this tutorial. that little bro of yours is talented! hope u're enjoying your vaca =D

  • Olivia J May 20, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Great job little brother! That's a great way to introduce someone to a DIY!

    Corporate Catwalk
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  • Krecipe May 20, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Great job!!! It's easier to understand with that cute animation :))

  • Anonymous May 20, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    your brother did a great job!

  • Cua Wendy Muas May 20, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    He did an amazing job on the video. =) WHEN you visit SF .. please do a "meet and greet!" =)

  • Kelly {Sparkles and Shoes} May 20, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    How cute is this, thank you for the step by step instructions!

    Sparkles and Shoes

  • Anonymous May 21, 2013 at 12:27 am

    I have been making my own clothes for a few years and currently finishing my wedding dress. Interfacing comes in both fusible and sew in. It's used to provide more body and strength to fabrics. Google Tilly and the buttons she made a suit with scallops a while back. Oh and for those who have asked about sewing machines, the best beginner machine is one with consistent tension, just a few stitches, a button hole, adjustable foot tension and ease of use. I've used many brands, (currently on a Viking) and though some are better than others it all comes down to preference.


  • Tia May 21, 2013 at 1:14 am

    I love the advice and ADORABLE video tutorial!!! Bravo! 🙂

  • Catching Flight May 21, 2013 at 1:45 am

    you make me want to get a sewing machine so badly. Do you have any recommendations for beginners sewing machine?

  • Anonymous May 21, 2013 at 4:38 am

    Awesome tutorial! Thank you! Great job on the video 🙂 Greetings from Russia!

  • Anonymous May 21, 2013 at 6:30 am

    Thank you for the great tutorial! I had seen your post previously on the scallop skirt and thought (as a beginner sewer) that it might be nice to try at a later stage. However, this amazing tutorial makes it seem so simple that I hope to try this out very soon! 🙂

  • The Private Detective May 21, 2013 at 6:33 am

    Wow nice tutorial. I also like this type skirt. Now I can prepare this skirt in myself. Actually that video tutorials clear in 100%.

  • Bára Rektorová May 21, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Well done! Your brother did a great job 🙂

  • jessicajyen May 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Nice! Scallops are such a great detail. As others have said, interfacing provides some stiffness and helps things hold their shape better (think of the placket or collar in a button down, for example). Me, I'm lazy and cheap, I tend to sub in a piece of fabric for interfacing (so … if I was making a collar, I'd have 3 layers of fabric instead of 2), usually the same fabric as the garment itself or a scrap of a similar weight. Works well enough, it's what they did back in the day.

  • Anonymous May 21, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Excellent tutoria!!!!!!! 🙂

  • Petitetomatoes May 21, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Good job on the tutorial. It's very creative, and easy to follow.

  • ....... May 21, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    wow what a great tutorial and so easy to follow and do myself. really looking forward to doing this project! thanks for sharing this! xx. gigi. food and beauty blogger @ http://www.gigikkitchen.blogspot.com

  • Anonymous May 21, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Wow, cute animation. could you let me know what software/program was used to make this kind of animation. I wish I could do the same. Thank you and look forwards to hear from you

  • Lady Indo May 21, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    That's an awesome idea :B If only I could sew, haha. But seriously, I will keep this stored for a future project.

    Lady Indo

  • Miemo May 22, 2013 at 8:15 am

    OMG. That tutorial is so cute and awesome!

  • SincerelySammie May 22, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for this tutorial! I love scallop detailing!


  • Anonymous May 22, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    LOL…such a cute video tutuorial…love love love!!

  • Mei Fleming May 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Stumbled across your blog. Very cute and I love the things you're doing as they're exactly the things that interest me too!

  • Laura May 22, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    AMAZING! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial 🙂

  • Rita May 26, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    This is awesome!! Tell your brother Ed thanks for a well-designed, thought-out tutorial. And thanks for sharing your knowledge. 🙂

  • Mary Ann June 1, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I love the animated tutorial, Jean – such a neat concept. And the skirt looks great – impressed!!! 😉

  • Anonymous June 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Your bro did amazing job on the animated tutorial & he's talented. What was his major in college?

  • Anonymous June 28, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Wow your bro is Awwesssssoommme! And you are awesome for making this skirt!

  • Anonymous July 11, 2013 at 10:44 am

    This is a wonderful tutorial! I have fabric and a pattern for a dress I am going to start making and wanted it to have a scalloped edge. All of the tutorials I found were sooo complicated. I was just about to give up and do a regular hem until I came across this video! Thank you so much for posting this!!!

  • Georgina July 14, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Hi, I found this tutorial online and I have to say it's the best one I could find, and the video was extremely helpful! I followed your tutorial and made a scallop skirt from scratch and made a blog post about it on my blog (in which I included a link to your tutorial), if you like, you can see it here http://shortand-sweet.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/diy-scallop-skirt.html

    Thanks 🙂

  • Maria Cortez July 25, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    amazing diy thank you so much! PLEASE MAKE A YOUTUBE CHANNEL

  • luvinthemommyhood August 6, 2013 at 11:58 am

    This is AMAZING!!!!! Wow!!! The video is so awesome!!! Great job!

  • Ann Martin August 10, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Kudos to Ed! (and you!) – what a perfect way to do a tutorial. Very cute idea.

  • Kim Lalunio August 27, 2013 at 3:51 am

    This is lovely! I'm obsessed with scalloped hems at the moment. I've linked this on my blog, hope that's ok! http://all-the-little-extras.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/ten-things_27.html
    Love your work!

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  • rodelmalopez September 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    fabulous thank you so much, you inspired me how to be creative, love it

  • Thembelihle Sokhela October 17, 2013 at 4:46 am

    LOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVE it!. wud love it on a jump suit or shorts.

  • Joyce T January 13, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Love this tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  • Chic By Michelle February 2, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH! I've been going crazy trying to figure this out with my own simple mind to no avail! Can't wait to do this!

  • Anonymous March 27, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    I love, love, love this hemming technique. I was wondering if you can publish it as a step-by-step tutorial that can be printed and put in my reference book, since I am not near a computer to follow along as I sew.

  • 1835-B May 9, 2014 at 2:25 am

    Wow. Excellent tutorial video. I dropped out of apparel design school and a huge reason was that teaching style was very antiquated. Imagine 20 people hovering around the teacher as she sews something new, and deciding whether to keep looking or jot notes and miss something. If we missed something, there was no way to see it again…One teacher even denied answering questions until the very end because "we can't slow down just for you". It was hell. This makes me smile, because it was as simple and efficient as it needed to be. I'm sorry if this is sounding like a therapy session but fashion school killed my creative soul. All I wanted to say is THANKS! THIS IS AWESOME! Sad to say my teachers never explained anything in as simple and effective manner.

  • Sherry Lou July 28, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Sherry Lou July 28, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    This is probably the best scalloped hem tutorial I've seen so far! The scallops look really neat and it looks as if you bought it that way! I can't wait to try this out especially on blouses and shorts! <3 Thanks for the awesome tutorial!


  • Angela Josef May 19, 2017 at 6:07 am

    This tutorial is awesome. I have also made this type of skirt in red color. It is perfectly match with my black tunics. Share some more tutorials to make trendy attires. Lovely pics.

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