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Shorten a Sweater from the Bottom with Hem Tape

Learn how to shorten a sweater from the bottom with hem tape. This sewing technique removes the ribbing, but it’s an easy sewing alteration.

Do you know that wealthy people look good in their clothing, because they get it tailored and altered to fit their own unique body. Clothing looks the best when it’s custom fit to you which means altering it.

I’ve shared a sewing tutorial about how to shorten a sweater and keep the ribbing, but what if you need to cut the hem off or it’s a curved hem? This sewing tutorial to shorten a sweater from the bottom with hem tape is great for sweaters where you can get rid of the ribbing.

shorten a sweater from the bottom

Sweaters are tricky to alter since they are knitted and not sewn. To alter them you have to introduce sewing with a sewing machine and stitches.

This way of hemming a sweater works well for sweaters with curved hems, sweaters with ties, sweaters with a split hem, and sweaters with thin ribbing.

Do you want to learn how to alter? Try one of these sewing tutorials:

shorten sweater from the bottom

how to shorten a sweater from the bottom


shorten sweater supplies

Put the sweater on to see how much you want to shorten it.

Take that amount and minus 5/8 inch which will be the hem allowance. The remaining amount will be what you cut off.

Place the hem tape on the bottom of the sweater measuring up the amount that will be cut off. (The 5/8 inch is how tall the hem tape is.) Fuse the hem tape to the sweater with the iron. Make sure the iron is not too hot for your fabric.

If you sweater is curved you will have to cut the hem tape into pieces to create the same shape.

apply hem tape

Once the hem tape is cooled off cut the excess sweater fabric off. Do not cut into the hem tape.

cut excess sweater

Peel off the paper backing to reveal the transparent, lightweight hem tape.

peel off paper backing

Fold the sweater up 5/8 where the hem tape is and fuse with the iron. The hem is fused in place, but it won’t be permanent until it is sewn.

fold up and iron

Sew the hem with a twin needle. Leave long thread tails.

sew twin needle hem

Tie the thread tails in a square knot.

tie square knot

Thread the tails into a hand sewing needle. Thread the tails a couple of inches into the hem to prevent unraveling.

leave thread tails

Press the hem again. Wash the sweater as you normally would.

The hem tape should prevent the hem from getting wavy when I used all the tips for using a twin needle. I found that when I pressed the sweater it kind of smashed the fabric down and made it look stretched out. Once I washed the sweater it looked normal again, and it wasn’t stretched out.

shorten sweater from the bottom

If you shorten a sweater from the bottom using this tutorial, I’d love to see! Please share it on social media with the hashtag #heatherhandmade and tag me!

shorten a sweater from the bottom

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I would like to hem my sweater sleeves but would keep the ribbing. Would this work for that?

The directions say to measure how long you want the sweater, and then minus 5/8″ for the hem. Shouldn’t that be plus 5/8″?