THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

August 25, 2009

Lead weight hem

Filed under: Els,sewing,sewing notions,Tutorials — Els @ 7:05 pm
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Wearing a linen blouse in summer is very weather friendly if you can stand the wrinkles, which of course are a characteristic of wearing linen fabric.

I love to wear linen blouses but I do not like the wrinkles and pleats of the back hem. I wear a long blouse so it creases a lot at the back hem due to sitting.  I wondered if there was a cure to prevent any more bunching up the hem.

So after some brainstorming I came up with the idea to use a lead tape inside the hem, to keep the hem hang straight even after sitting.

Lead tape is mostly used in curtain hems but I did use the lead tape inside my blouse hem and it works like a charm.

I bought some lead tape the lightest weight the store had was 35 grams per meter , but that was a bit too heavy to use in a blouse hem. Unfortunately the store did not have the lightest weight tape which is 15 grams per meter. The 35 gram tape was not the right weight to use in my blouse hem, it was too heavy and it showed a ridge in my hem seam allowance, due to the larger diameter.

detailed view of the lead weight tape, partly uncovered to show the lead weights:

lead tape 35 grams per meter

Lead tape is available per meter here in The Netherlands in different weights and I needed a lightweight lead tape 15 gram per meter which is the lightest weight.

See the difference in size and diameter for 35 grams at the top and 15 grams at the bottom. I removed some of the cover so you can see a detailed view what is inside the tape.

lead tape difference

So I remembered that I had some polyester organza curtains in my stash , which were a big mistake, color was wrong, but I could re-use the lead tape. One hour later I had ripped the lightweight lead tape 15 grams per meter and used that tape to stabilize my linen blouse hem.

I wore my blouse for a day and the hem is still looking good and no bunching up hem.

blouse back

blouse front

Eureka that was the best solution to keep my linen blouse hem stay put.

I secured the lead tape at the inside of the mitered corners of the blouse hem at center front and side slits with some hand stitching.

The tape is laying loose in the hem allowance and should withstand washing. I am going to hang dry my blouse so the covered lead tape will not harm my linen fabric.

I made  a sample for pressing/ ironing and noticed that if I move the tape a bit upward I can press the hem fold without showing a small ridge, due to the tape which is inside the hem allowance.

So there is no need to press the hem touching the tape because it can move due to the hem allowance ( 1,5 inch) I used for this blouse.

Since I had no information if this tape was available in the US I asked fellow diva MaryBeth and she directed me to a US source for this tape  amazon.

If you love to wear linen and want to prevent any bunching up of the hem, this is a way to keep the hem hanging straight.



  1. I am glad it worked out so well. Your blouse looks very nice.

    Comment by Mary Beth — August 25, 2009 @ 7:32 pm

  2. Love this notion. They sell it at Joanns.

    Comment by Bunny — August 25, 2009 @ 8:21 pm

  3. That looks great Els. I love that lead tape. I’ve also used it on the back of facings to keep them in place.

    Comment by Gorgeous Things — August 25, 2009 @ 8:48 pm

  4. I had not thought of this solution for linen, though I have used it for light weight sheer fabrics. Great idea! Thanks for the reminder to think outside of the box for solutions…

    Comment by georgene — August 26, 2009 @ 10:04 am

  5. I’d just love to have that blouse. Splendid fabric!

    Comment by Judith in Umbria — August 26, 2009 @ 11:50 am

  6. Very smart! Like Georgene, I have used the same concept in lightweight garments. I haven’t used this technique in a long time, so thanks for the reminder!

    Comment by Summerset — August 26, 2009 @ 8:13 pm

  7. Els, This is perfect because I have an interesting linen jacket with points in the back and don’t wear it because they crinkle up and stick out. I don’t need anything sticking out over my butt to make it look bigger. I just ordered some of the 3/32 in tape to put to good use and resurrect my neglected jacket. Thank you!

    Comment by Alice — August 26, 2009 @ 9:18 pm

  8. Some very interesting points have been made here, it is refreshing to see that your site gets quality visitors.

    Comment by glue gun — August 27, 2009 @ 9:17 am

  9. Els, thanks for reminding me about this terrific notion and it’s uses. It’s been a long time since I’ve needed to use it, and quite frankly had forgotten all about it!

    (regarding the comment above mine…I wonder if I am a “quality” visitor…{{smile}})

    Comment by Pam ~Off The Cuff ~ — August 27, 2009 @ 11:25 am

  10. Good to see that people still know what they are talking about. So much BS around these days!

    Comment by sewing fabrics — August 27, 2009 @ 11:29 am

  11. What a splendid idea. I sew a lot but never thought of this. Thanks!

    Comment by leilani — August 28, 2009 @ 8:51 pm

  12. I have also used different weights of jewlery chain (a la Channel Jackets)to get just the right weight and not as ugly (in sheer hems) as the drapery lead. Your jacket looks great. Your blog is awesome- what a great resource!

    Comment by angerella — August 29, 2009 @ 11:14 am

  13. What an excellent idea! Thank you!

    Comment by Kathi — August 30, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

  14. Another great idea from you, Els! I’m going to look for lead tape next time I’m in a fabric store.

    Comment by Annika — August 30, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

  15. How do the lead weights hold up to washing? I wash my linen, and wonder how the little bits of lead would behave in the machine. Thanks for the idea!

    Comment by Brenna — August 30, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

    • Brenna
      I washed my blouse in warm water (40 degrees Celsius) and the lead weight which is covered did hold up very well.

      Comment by Els — September 15, 2009 @ 6:07 am

  16. Wonderful blouse and as always…great tips. Also could you please tell me where you found that fabulous ruler used in the photo. Thank You

    Reply from Els:
    Cherrine I bought the small Amann ruler ( hand gauge) last month in Germany at a fabric store.I also have some similare ones made by Gutermann.

    Comment by Cherrine Anderson — August 31, 2009 @ 9:09 am

  17. […] Lead weight hem « THE SEWING DIVAS sewing […]

    Pingback by Tips On Sewing A Hem — September 3, 2009 @ 6:05 pm

  18. I don’t know If I said it already but …This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Tony Brown

    Comment by Tony Brown — September 23, 2009 @ 9:55 pm

  19. What a beautiful blouse! I live in Orlando, FL. It is 94 degrees F here today, so anything that makes linen garments more wearable for work is welcome news. The wrinkles make me crazy (well, so does the heat). I can’t wait to try this. Thanks for your beautiful illustrations.

    Comment by Meg — October 7, 2009 @ 12:16 pm

  20. Els, ik weet niet hoe ik je anders kan bereiken, dus langs deze weg.
    In een tutorial zag ik dat je zijden organza gebruikte. Waar koop je dat in Nederland?
    Alvast bedankt, ook voor je fantastische tips en tutorials.
    groet Ann-Marie

    Comment by ann-marie — November 9, 2009 @ 8:24 am

  21. This is very claver idea indeed. I have been researching about lead weight product on internet then I came across this website and that bright idea. I am working for a lead weight manufacturer so generally the product is used for curtains as you can see on . The aim is exactly same that making good looking and also it is a solution against wrinkles. Curtains are washed many many times but nothing happens because lead can not be oxidized as same as iron. Therefore it’s melting point is 328 C. And also it is knitted for protecting more. I hope these informations will be useful to use lead weight with confidently using and no doubt.

    Comment by Berat — March 26, 2010 @ 10:46 am

  22. Lead is a known cancer-causing substance and is banned in many products including paint and childrens toys. As I was looking for weights to sew into the hem of my wedding dress, I was shocked to see lead weights being sold openly on the market. I have been searching for non-lead weight to use in my hem, and finding only lead weights, I have decided to sew quarters around the inside of my hem. Works just fine. I would urge all of you to search for non-lead weights in consideration of your health.

    Comment by Sarah — April 6, 2010 @ 11:57 pm

    • That was my exact worry, too. I have added many pretty summer dresses to my wardrobe this year and have been looking for something to weigh them down as they are both lifted easily by gusts of wind and ride up on my hidden cycling shorts. ;~)I thought that maybe the “lead” in the curtain weight tape was no longer actual “lead” due to its healthrisks, but I have been unable to find further information or an alternative. Has anyone been more successful?

      Comment by Esther — September 2, 2010 @ 6:35 am

  23. I love linen and also hate the wrinkles, especially for travel but have found that if I take a plastic spray bottle on my trips,and dampen and hand press the garment overnight, the wrinkles pressed out easily. It is ironing linen that seems to cause the wrinkles upon wearing. If linen garments are hung wet, seams pulled occasionally while drying, the linen texture that remains is softer and not so stiff as after ironing. I have found this works with linen blends as well. Handkerchief linen of course is the best of all fabrics. Try it and spend the time spraying your garment to remove the wrinkles instead of ironing and sewing lead weights into them.

    Comment by Carole — August 2, 2010 @ 6:53 pm

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