For many of us, it’s the time of year where the coats come out, and you might have discovered some wear and tear on your clothes from the previous winter. A common problem is for the lining to come away from the outer shell at the hem. This can especially happen on longer coats where the hem is more likely to get caught or stepped on.
In this blog post, we will use equipment, materials and skills from our book How To Start Sewing to show you how to neatly repair this hem and prevent the hem from coming down as easily in the future.
- Hand Sewing Needle (How To Start Sewing, Chapter 3)
- Embroidery Scissors or Thread Snips (Chapter 3)
- Pins (Chapter 3)
- Pinking Shears (Chapter 35)
- Unpicker (Chapter 12)
- Iron and Ironing Board (Chapter 6)
Fabric / Materials / Trims:
- All-purpose sewing thread in colour to match (Chapter 3 and 17).
- All-purpose sewing thread in contrast colour for basting (Chapter 3 and 17).
- Whipstitch (Exercise 45.02)
- Basting (Exercise 4.02)
- Blind Hem by Catchstitch (Exercise 37.12)
Step 1: Identify The Issues
The first step is to look at how bad the damage is. In this case, the stitching holding the lining to the outer shell of the hem has come undone, and in the process, a hole has also been torn in the lining. On this coat, the lining also appeared to have been sewn too tightly to the outer fabric originally. This probably caused tension between the two layers and made it more likely that the layers would strain against each other and break the stitching.
Step 2: Unpicking To Make Space
Since the lining was previously attached too tightly along the hem, a larger section of the hem has been unpicked so that the lining can be repositioned with more wearing ease. This essentially means that as we carry out the repair we are going to ensure there is enough slack in the lining so that it doesn’t pull against the outer shell.
Step 3: Pinking Shear Raw Edges
Over time, it is common for lining to fray at the edges inside the garment. To give yourself a cleaner area to work with you can use pinking shears to trim just along the edge. This makes it easier to see what amount of remaining fabric you are working with. We have also given the lining a light press with a cool iron to flatten out creases and to make it easier to manipulate the fabric.
Step 4: Whipstitch Hole Closed
In this case, the area with the hole will actually be folded under out of sight when we resew the hem. So to simply prevent the hole from becoming any larger, a whipstitch has been used to draw the two sides of the fabric together. In a case where the hole would still be visible inside the garment, a more careful repair could be carried out with a patch of black fusing on the wrong side of the lining.
Step 5: Position Lining With Pins
You now need to look at the other half of the garment where the hem is still intact to see how the lining hem should be reattached. It is common for jackets and coats such as this to have the lining come down and then fold back under on itself to create a type of pleat. This means that when the coat is worn, the lining can pull up on the body slightly and there is enough slack or wearing ease that it won’t affect the outer layer. You can also see that here the lining doesn’t create a perfect horizontal straight line at the fold, but instead creates an arc that blends down to meet the edge of the facing (where the line of red piping is).
With the garment flat, the lining has been smoothed down against the outer fabric by hand, keeping in mind that we want the lining to be slightly looser against the outer layer so that it has enough ease when the coat is worn. To hold the right amount of ease in the pleat, we have then pinned across in a straight line. As you are pinning, the pins should be catching two layers of lining fabric (as it folds down and then back under) and the pins should then catch into the hem allowance of the outer coat fabric.
Step 6: Baste Lining
To ensure the lining stays in the correct position, a line of loose basting stitches have been used in a contrasting pale blue thread. This line of stitches is only temporary and makes it easier to sew the permanent hem stitches in the next step. If you can picture where the hem allowance of the outer coating fabric sits, then this basting is running about 1cm below the top edge of the hem allowance.
It is important to listen to the fabric with your hands as you baste it into place. You are working on an existing garment where the previous edge of the lining has been frayed and damaged, so you have to ease it into place as best you can. Do not focus on creating a sharp neat hem fold if there isn’t enough length remaining on the existing lining. It is more important that the lining is positioned with enough ease, and so that there is enough seam allowance of the lining tucked underneath so that your hand sewing stitches have undamaged fabric to grip onto.
Step 7: Prepare For Hem Stitch
On this coat, the lining was previously bagged out against the outer fabric along the hem from the inside of the lining with a sewing machine. However, as this stitching appeared to have caused strain last time, we are going to replace the previous line of machine stitching with a more elastic hand-sewn stitch. A catchstitch is a great choice as it works back and forth on itself. This means that next time you catch your coat hem on something there is more give in the line of stitches, and it will be less likely that the lining will tear.
Before you start the catchstitch, you may wish to first secure the other end of the lining, where your new line of hand sewing will meet the old line of machine sewing. It is easier to access this area now before the lining is sewn closed. To do this, you can simply do a couple of small backstitches on top of one another over the end of the old machine stitching to ensure it won’t come undone.
Step 8: Secure Hem with Catchstitch
If you are unfamiliar with how to create a blind hem effect with a catchstitch, this process is explained in more detail in Exercise 37.12 of our book How To Start Sewing. In this situation, the pleat of the lining is held back with your left thumb (as shown in the previous image) as though you are folding the lining back along the basting stitches. The black thread used here to sew the hem is then secured in the hem allowance of the outer coating fabric with a couple of small backstitches. If you are right-handed, you will typically start on your left for a catchstitch and then work from left to right across the hem.
To create the catchstitch you take a very small stitch in the hem allowance of the outer fabric, then take a very small stitch through only one layer of the lining fabric. As you create one stitch after another the threads will look as though they are crisscrossing over each other. In this use of the catchstitch, the crisscrossed stitches will become quite flat and will almost form a straight line as they hold the lining fabric to the outer coat fabric. When you have sewn along the open section of hem, secure the thread in the hem allowance of the outer coat fabric with a couple of small backstitches.
Step 9: Press Lining and Remove Basting
Once the permanent catchstitches are securely in place, you can then lightly press the lining with a cool iron to smooth the lining into place. You can then remove the pale blue basting stitches.
Step 10: Finished Lining Repair
The repair to the lining of your coat’s hem is now finished! If needed you may like to give the lining a light press to remove the crease caused by the basting. If sewn correctly, the lining should move freely, and only be caught in underneath with the catchstitch.