How to Use Fabric Tape to Tailor Clothes

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If you desire a perfect fit for your skirt, trouser and shirt hems, all you need is the time, skill and inclination to sew them into place. Fabric tape is a heat-activated material that allows you to quickly tailor your clothing, using nothing but an iron. Other types of fabric tape are good for making small repairs. Once the tape is set into place, you can still choose to sew later or leave the tape as-is.

What You Need

In order to quickly make your tailoring adjustments, you'll need an iron with a range of adjustable settings and the ability to de-activate the steam function. An ironing board and press cloth for using the tape on synthetic material is also required. For thicker fabric that might be harder to hold in place, you can also deploy a few straight pins to perfect the length and evenness of the new hem. If you're shortening an existing hemline, you'll want to use a seam ripper to remove the existing threads. Of course, you'll need shears to snip loose threads as needed and to cut the fabric tape to length.

Fabric Prep

Prior to creating the new hem, wash and dry the garment according to the fabric care tag inside. Do not use fabric softeners, as this will affect tape adhesion. Turn on the iron to the setting matching the fabric type you're working with. While it's heating, flip your garment inside-out. Unstitch the existing hem, if necessary, using the seam ripper. Fold the fabric over, creating the new hem. Pin the fabric in place, if necessary. Iron the new hem in place, smoothing wrinkles out of the fabric as you go. Remove any pins prior to applying the fabric tape.

Applying the Tape

Snip a length of tape slightly longer than the circumference of the hem. Adjust your iron to its lowest setting, allowing a few minutes for it to cool from the level you used to iron your hem in place. Sandwich the tape inside the new hemline, between the two pieces of fabric. Lay the press cloth over the fabric, if the material you're working with is synthetic, preventing scorching or shiny spots. Press and hold the iron in place for about three to five seconds or as the tape manufacturer directs. Continue around the hem until the hem is set.

Other Uses

Some fabric tape comes in small sheets or squares used to patch holes or tears, as well as to reinforce high-stress areas. This tape is cut to size and pressed into place like hem fabric tape. Once ironed in place behind the damaged area, holes may then be fixed by hand or using a sewing machine. The tape is quite useful for reinforcing shirt tails, button holes or any other area prone to tears from stress and strain.