I recently discovered a love for high-low hems: I love the little extra pop they give my wardrobe. My Dream Tee high-low turned out so great I just knew I needed to try it on the Blade Tank! Now, for my Dream Tee I just kind of winged it while I was cutting, but I wanted to create a pattern piece this time. Not only did this allow me to visualize before cutting, but I was also able to make sure I could fit this on my yardage. Of course you can easily do this on paper too or by eyeballing as you cut.
I use a projector to cut my patterns out and Inkscape to manipulate them beforehand. I save each of these new files so I can sew my adjusted patterns over and over again. My first step was to import my adjusted Blade Tank pattern into Inkscape (I blended 3 sizes together). The next thing I did was ungroup and arrange the pattern pieces in a square half the width of my yardage so I could see how much length I could add to the back. I only needed half the width because I cut all of my pieces on the fold when possible. I knew I wanted to use Royal Rib Knit, but I only had a yard so I didn't have any room for error.
As you can see from the images below I had quite a bit of space for this project. I used the measuring tool (on the bottom left corner in Inkscape) to place a guide line away from the drafted hem for drawing my new one. I placed the line about 6” away from the existing hem, though I could have gone further. I am short and 6” is still quite dramatic without being too much for casual/everyday wear.
Now that I had my guide line in place I could draw the new hem! I used the Draw Bezier tool to get a rough start on the new hem. I started at the center seam, then went down to my guide line, following the line for about half the pattern piece width, then up to the side seam point. Every click of the mouse places a new node. When placing nodes you want to space them close enough together that you can easily adjust the curve of the hem. I put more towards the side seam because that was where I needed the most curve added.
Note: you can use the draw freehand function as well, which is right below the bezier. But I do not have a mouse, and find it difficult to use this function with a trackpad.
Next I selected the nodes I needed to smooth out and adjust and selected the auto smooth (top picture in collage below) button on the nodes bar at the top of the page. This will instantly make the lines on either sides of these nodes smoother and curve together. The picture on the bottom left below shows the nodes I selected and the result of the auto-smoothing. The large blue circles are the nodes, the small white circles on either side of them allow you to adjust the curve of the lines. As you can see I still needed to adjust them a little to make a smoother curve. From here I adjusted one node at a time until I was happy with how my hemline looked. I would click off to one side to hide the nodes between each adjustment. It didn’t take long and I had something I loved (righthand picture below)! I decided to keep the original hem in place so that If I changed my mind about a high-low while cutting one I didn’t need to open another file.
My final steps before saving were to thicken my lines, change their color, and add a wide margin for easy scrolling when projecting onto fabric. You can change the lines and color in Inkscape by selecting the line(s) you want to change and double clicking on the stroke information box at the bottom left corner of the screen. This will bring up a panel for editing. I like to use a variety of colors, but my preferred line thickness is between .024 and .036 inches and I always make my lines solid. When making the lines thicker Inscape adds width to the inside, not out, so you can make them as thick as you need. Margins are added in the Document Properties tab, I like 10-15” around the my project. Now I could save my file and get cutting!
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I will share a couple tips:
1) fold your fabric right sides together so you can pin or clip your back seam without adjusting it after cutting. (left)
2) when working with very closely spaced pattern pieces carefully fold your fabric up and out of the way to avoid cutting into the piece next to it. (right)
Curved hems can be bothersome for some to hem, especially if the curves are tight, so I like to use a basting stitch to make things easier. I use a long, loose straight stitch to sew around the hem where I need to fold for my hem. This means I don’t need to measure, I can just pin, press, and sew. Pressing helps keep everything in place, which is especially important if I’m using my coverstitch machine and can’t easily readjust my fold. After hemming pull the basting stitches and you’re ready to show off your new top!
To draw a high-low hem on paper make sure you have enough paper below your hem to draw on. I personally would draw a guide line where you want the deepest point of the hem to be and then use a pencil to draw your new hem. You can free hand, use a French Ruler, or something else to trace your curve: whatever works best for you! When you're happy with your new hem, trace it with a marker to make the line more visible and it's time to sew.