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)

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  1. 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.

    Posted 5.19.17 Reply
  2. Sherry Lou wrote:

    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!


    Posted 7.28.14 Reply
  3. Sherry Lou wrote:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Posted 7.28.14 Reply
  4. 1835-B wrote:

    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.

    Posted 5.9.14 Reply
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    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.

    Posted 3.27.14 Reply
  6. 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!

    Posted 2.2.14 Reply
  7. Joyce T wrote:

    Love this tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    Posted 1.13.14 Reply
  8. LOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVE it!. wud love it on a jump suit or shorts.

    Posted 10.17.13 Reply
  9. fabulous thank you so much, you inspired me how to be creative, love it

    Posted 9.24.13 Reply
  10. Share tips wrote:

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

    Posted 9.16.13 Reply
  11. 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!

    Posted 8.27.13 Reply
  12. Ann Martin wrote:

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

    Posted 8.10.13 Reply
  13. This is AMAZING!!!!! Wow!!! The video is so awesome!!! Great job!

    Posted 8.6.13 Reply
  14. amazing diy thank you so much! PLEASE MAKE A YOUTUBE CHANNEL

    Posted 7.25.13 Reply
  15. Georgina wrote:

    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 🙂

    Posted 7.14.13 Reply
  16. Anonymous wrote:

    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!!!

    Posted 7.11.13 Reply
  17. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 6.28.13 Reply
  18. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 6.4.13 Reply
  19. Mary Ann wrote:

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

    Posted 6.1.13 Reply
  20. Rita wrote:

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

    Posted 5.26.13 Reply
  21. Laura wrote:

    AMAZING! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial 🙂

    Posted 5.22.13 Reply
  22. Stumbled across your blog. Very cute and I love the things you're doing as they're exactly the things that interest me too!

    Posted 5.22.13 Reply
  23. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 5.22.13 Reply
  24. Thanks for this tutorial! I love scallop detailing!


    Posted 5.22.13 Reply
  25. Miemo wrote:

    OMG. That tutorial is so cute and awesome!

    Posted 5.22.13 Reply
  26. Lady Indo wrote:

    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

    Posted 5.21.13 Reply
  27. Anonymous wrote:

    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

    Posted 5.21.13 Reply
  28. ....... wrote:

    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

    Posted 5.21.13 Reply
  29. Good job on the tutorial. It's very creative, and easy to follow.

    Posted 5.21.13 Reply
  30. Anonymous wrote:

    Excellent tutoria!!!!!!! 🙂

    Posted 5.21.13 Reply
  31. 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.

    Posted 5.21.13 Reply
  32. Well done! Your brother did a great job 🙂

    Posted 5.21.13 Reply
  33. Wow nice tutorial. I also like this type skirt. Now I can prepare this skirt in myself. Actually that video tutorials clear in 100%.

    Posted 5.21.13 Reply
  34. Anonymous wrote:

    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! 🙂

    Posted 5.21.13 Reply

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