Archive for Monday, April 23, 2012


Remnant Rehab: Try a flirty bubble hem dress for prom

April 23, 2012


A former bridesmaid dress is shortened and given a bubble hem, making it wearable to a future formal event.

A former bridesmaid dress is shortened and given a bubble hem, making it wearable to a future formal event.

There are two occasions that almost any woman encounters requiring expensive dresses — weddings and prom.

Even if it’s not your wedding, you’ll need a dress. If you’re a bridesmaid, in most cases it ends up being an expensive dress that you’re unlikely to wear again. No matter what the bride says.

I have a bridesmaid dress from a friend’s wedding that I thought had potential for rewearing — but not as it was, floor-length with a small train.

I decided to take it up, and for added fun, create a bubble hem. Like the original hem, I kept it a little longer in the back (flash-dance prevention!), but you can make it the same length all around.

Now, I could wear this dress again to a fancy wedding and save money — I had already paid for this one and had it fitted, so why buy a new one?

This can also be done for a prom dress, if you’d rather go with a look that’s more flirty than formal.


  • dress
  • measuring tape/ruler
  • tailor’s chalk
  • scissors
  • matching thread
  • sewing machine
  • iron
  • pins
  • hand-sewing needle


  1. Determine your desired length — it would be best to have a friend help you, but you can also go off of another dress or skirt that’s the desired length. Mark on the dress lining the length you want, then measure up from that 2 inches (to be on the safe side) to 2.5 inches (if you’re confident) and mark. Cut off the lining at the higher marking.

  2. Turn the dress inside out. On the wrong side of the outer fabric, measure 5 inches from the bottom of the lining and mark. Cut the bottom of the dress off at your marking. This longer hem on the outer layer will be folded up to meet the lining, which should make it the length you determined in step 1.

  3. Take the dress to the sewing machine and sew a basting stitch, 1/4 inch from the bottom of the outer fabric, all the way around the hem. Don’t backstitch at either end — you will use this stitch to gather and “bubble” the bottom of the skirt. Some books suggest sewing two rows of basting stitches for gathering, in case you pull too hard and break a thread on one row. To gather, pull gently on the bobbin thread and push the gathered fabric around the hem so it’s evenly distributed.

  4. Press the gathered hem of the outer fabric in 5/8 inch, wrong sides together.

  5. Once the outer hem is gathered, start pinning the pressed hem to the right side of the lining — I’m calling the side that touches your body the right side of the lining. Match up the bottom of the outer fabric cut hem with the bottom of the lining cut hem. This way, both cut hems will be inside the final stitching, keeping it neat.

  6. Using a hand-sewing needle and thread, whip stitch the lining to the outer fabric at the pinned seam. Don’t go through to the front of the dress.

Turn the dress right-side out and admire your handiwork. Then go dance the night away!

— Go! editor Katie Bean can be reached at Follow her at


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