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How to alter the hem of a bridal gown with a train

Updated February 21, 2017

On your big day, you want to look your best, so it is important that the alterations to your gown fit you just right. There are a variety of train lengths and styles, such as a sweep train which is a very short train to a monarch train, which can be as long as 12 feet. The longer the train, the more difficult the hem will be to sew. However, taking your time and being precise will ensure your dress looks beautiful on your wedding day. (See References 1 and 2)

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  1. Have the bride try on her gown and use the measuring tape to take appropriate measurements. The ideal length of the front of the dress, when appropriately hemmed, should be 1/4 inch off of the floor when she has her shoes on. Mark this on the underside of the dress with fabric chalk or a fabric pen. (See References 1)

  2. Turn the length of dress that will need to be hemmed under. Pin the dress with straight pins so that the dress falls 1/4 of an inch longer than the mark you made in step one. This will give you some extra fabric to work with. The dress should be pinned equally the entire way around, including the train. For instance if you pin the dress up two inches in the front, the train should also be pinned up two inches. (See References 1 and 3)

  3. Thread the sewing machine with thread that matches your dress. Place the underside of the dress face up on the sewing machine and carefully sew a 1/8 inch hem around the dress, slowly removing each pin as you sew. (See References 1 and 3)

  4. Remove the dress from the sewing machine and cut tightly around the outer edge of the hem which has just been created. (See References 1) This must be done very carefully, or the dress can be cut in the process of trimming the hem.

  5. Fold the dress under again at the mark you made in step one. Pin the fabric in place. Your dress is now at the length it will be worn at. (See References 1)

  6. Place the underside of the dress face up on the sewing machine and sew another 1/8 inch. This process is done a second time to avoid puckering in the fabric. (See References 1 and 3)

  7. Trim any hanging threads.

  8. Tip

    Avoid sewing any more than 1/8 inch at a time to avoid puckering the fabric. (See References 1)


    Do not pull too tightly on the fabric when sewing to avoid puckering. (See References 1)

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Things You'll Need

  • Bridal gown
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric chalk or fabric pen
  • Straight pins
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine

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