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Cleo Pinafore Dress - How To Hem A Curve Edge on Your Frills!

Back View of the Cleo Pinafore Dress showing off the frills
Back View of the Cleo Pinafore Dress

While the Cleo is a relatively simple make overall, making the frills can be a little tricky - especially with some fabrics. I honestly think the trickiest part of the frills is actually one simple bit: hemming that curve on the frill pieces!

I've added one way to make the frills in the instructions, but thought I would go through a few other options here, for you to try and see which one works the best for you.

First up, the version in the instructions. This one works well for fabrics with a little more body, like a quilting cotton or a babycord.

Method One: Double Fold Hem

Step 1: With your longest stitch on your machine, sew a line 1cm from the long curved edge of your frill pieces. Don't back stitch at the beginning and end of this.

This is a basting/ gathering stitch, and we'll use it in the next step to gently pull around the curved parts of the frill. This will draw the hem slightly to the inside, as you can see here:

Next up, we're going to press along this line, on the stitches. They will serve as your guidelines for this pressing.

Next up, you want to press the raw edge of this to the inside, so you're left with a 5mm hem.

Try and get the folds as even as possible - this is the bit where it's worth taking a little time to get it as neat as possible. Press.

Once you're happy, sew it along the folded edge.

Now you've sewn it, use an awl or an unpicker to remove the basting stitches. Repeat for your second frill, and you're good to go!

Method 2: Rolled Hem

Now, this is my second method, which is good for lighterweight fabrics. Now you can use a rolled hem foot on your machine, but this is how to do a rolled hem if you don't have the rolled hem foot. It's a lot of lines of stitching, but it yields a super neat hem.

First up, you want to sew a line of stitching around the curved edge of your frill. This doesn't have to be big stitches, just normal 2-3 width. I tend to use the edge of my foot against the edge of a fabric as a guide - it's around 5mm away, but I don't need it to be exact.

Next, press a hem so you can see your stitches on the wrong side by around 1mm.

Now you'll sew DIRECTLY on top of this line of stitches. Right on the top.

Now it's trimming - trim right back to your stitching, being careful not to cut your delicate fabric in the wrong place.

No you'll press again, to the wrong side, so you can see your line of stitches about 1mm in, the same as before. I forgot to take a picture of this step, but you can see the line of stitching in the next step, directly underneath where the next step's stitches are (this step is the coral stitches, the next step is the brown stitches).

Sew directly on top of your stitch line again.

Now you're done! Admire this little neat row of stitches (at least, they would be neat had I matched my thread and not run out of bobbin right in the middle there!)

Method 3: Self-Faced Frill

What's that I hear you say? Well, I'd use this for really fraying fabrics, or if I just wanted a really neat finish with no hem showing this could be an option. You'll need to cut out an extra pair of frill pieces though, so you have 4 rather than 2. Other than that one is pretty simple.

Lay two pieces right sides facing, and sew with a 1cm seam allowance.

Around your curves, clip notches into the seam.

Now turn the right way out and press, press, press! I'd suggest a quick line of stitches close to the edge to hold the layers together for the next step: normally I would say this should be big basting stitches, but in this case I would keep them small so they don't get confused with your gathering stitches in the next step! See how neat this finish could be?

There's all sorts of ways of hemming, but a curve always throws a little spanner in the works, and hopefully these options help!

Anna x

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