While working on the pattern for this romper, I looked online for various vented hem or split hem tutorials. I found a couple, but I was surprised that there were not more. There are several ways to create a vented hem, including using a hem facing, a kind of funnel-hem dealie (hard to explain) or leaving tabs hanging off at the vent to fold in. I personally find this to be simpler while still creating a very finished look.
This all came about because I decided independently of the vent that I wanted to use a turned and topstitched seam finish on the side seams for the romper. I discovered that this naturally allowed me to develop the vents seamlessly.
I’m using a small piece of scrap fabric for this tutorial, with contrasting orange thread, to make the photographs as clear as possible.
I. Sew the Main Seam
- Press and prepare your fabric as you normally would. Make sure you are planning for a 5/8″ seam allowance, which may be wider than you are used to. Here you can just see my split sample.
- Start sewing with the 5/8″ seam allowance.
- Stop sewing at the top of the vent. Here I have planned for a 2″ long vent using a 1″ seam allowance for the hem. I have used a pink marker to mark the fabric at the top of the vent for purposes of this tutorial.
II. Turn & Press
- On each side of the seam, and all the way down the vent, fold the seam allowance under itself and press down.
- If you like, or if you’re using a tricky fabric, you can use double-sided basting tape (such as Stitch Witchery or Steam-A-Seam) to hold this down until you can sew it.
III. Topstitch and press hem
- Topstitch your pressed hems all the way from top to bottom, including your vent.
- Press your hem seam allowance up; serge if you’re planning to do so, or fold and press.
IV. Hem and Bar Tack
- Sew your hem. I usually cut the folded-in corner off to reduce bulk and to prevent it from sticking out – it looks better that way.
- Sew a bar tack about a half-inch long or so up from the start of the vent. I got distracted in the middle of mine and wound up with a big bump in the satin stitching.
If you’ve never done a bar tack before – it’s very simple. Set your stitch type to zig zag. Set your stitch length to close to 0 for a satin stitch, and your stitch width somewhere around 3 or 4mm. Test it out on a scrap first to make sure you’re happy with your settings, then sew up and back once to form your bar tack.
V. You’re Done!
That’s it! You’ve now got a lovely vented hem. You can use this at the ankle of pants or at the hip of a shirt, and both the topstitching and the vent look very cool.