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

  • Reply 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! 🙂

  • Reply 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%.

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

    Well done! Your brother did a great job 🙂

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply Anonymous May 21, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Excellent tutoria!!!!!!! 🙂

  • Reply Petitetomatoes May 21, 2013 at 3:06 pm

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

  • Reply ....... 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

  • Reply 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

  • Reply 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

  • Reply Miemo May 22, 2013 at 8:15 am

    OMG. That tutorial is so cute and awesome!

  • Reply SincerelySammie May 22, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for this tutorial! I love scallop detailing!


  • Reply Anonymous May 22, 2013 at 2:47 pm

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

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply Laura May 22, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    AMAZING! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial 🙂

  • Reply 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. 🙂

  • Reply 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!!! 😉

  • Reply 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?

  • Reply Anonymous June 28, 2013 at 7:03 pm

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

  • Reply 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!!!

  • Reply 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 🙂

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

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

  • Reply luvinthemommyhood August 6, 2013 at 11:58 am

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

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply Share tips September 16, 2013 at 12:44 am

    We want you to thank you for such outstanding information on your blog. http://www.intradaytips.com

  • Reply rodelmalopez September 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm

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

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

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

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

    Love this tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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.

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

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Reply 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!


  • Reply 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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