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I am not sure whether I should call the cheery patterned part of the skirt "a hem" or something.

I want to make the hem stick to the upper part of the skirt.

Suppose the hem hasn't come off as shown in the picture but it is about to come off.

Is it correct to say "The hem almost came off. Sew/stitch the hem or the strim back to the skirt"?

  • That would be fine. Can you clarify why you think it might not be? Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 2:20
  • @AndyBonner, I am not sure "the hem came off" or "the hem came out"?
    – Tom
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 4:08
  • That's clearly not a hem, so that part of it is invalid.
    – MikeB
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 12:37

5 Answers 5


Note that the part labelled a hem in the picture is not a hem- it is a separate piece of fabric. A hem is the edge of the fabric, folded over once or twice and then sewn to the fabric, to prevent the fabric from fraying. It is just the part below the stitching in this photo:

[Picture of hem

Because the hem is always part of the main fabric, we don't say that the hem has come off if the stitching fails: we say that the hem has come loose or undone. This can be seen from this NGram graph.

Regarding your question, the Cambridge dictionary offers this definition of to:

used to say where something is fastened or connected

The preposition to is used almost exclusively when talking about hems, as this NGram graph shows. Another example of this usage is the children's game "pin the tail on the donkey". Google does not recognize onto, and suggests on.

Both stitch and sew are used, but stitch is somewhat more common. The correct sentence should therefore be:

The hem has come undone. Stitch the hem back to the skirt

Update following changes to the question

There isn't really a technical term for this part of a dress: the closest words are

flounce: a wide strip of cloth sewn along the edge of especially a dress or skirt for decoration

tier: one of several layers or levels

A flounce is usually a lot wider than the bottom of the dress, so that it sticks out. For a tiered dress, each band overlaps the band below it.

The best way to describe it is probably to call it the bottom band of the dress. For this situation, on, onto and to are OK. I would prefer on, and this NGram graph supports my opinion. The complete sentence would look like this:

The bottom band of the dress is coming off. Sew it back on.

Alternatively you could talk about the join between the bottom band and the rest of the dress- the seam.

The bottom seam on your dress has come undone. Sew it back together.

  • I got the above picture from this website 7buy.top/ProductDetail.aspx?iid=201725279&pr=56.99 and they say "How to hem a skirt"
    – Tom
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 4:13
  • 7
    This seems to be a made up web site. All of the items are $56.99 and they are all called "How to...", and the reviews don't match the product.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 4:17
  • 1
    If it's not part of the main fabric, what you call it depends on what it's supposed to do. Here are some possibilities: flounce, frill, trim, binding.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 4:20
  • 1
    @Tom Maybe this is part of the confusion: To hem (verb) a piece of clothing is to create a new hem, often after shortening it by cutting off extra material. Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 10:29
  • 1
    Regarding "onto" and "to" - English as spoken by me says that while you can sew something "back (on)to the skirt", if you are saying "sew it back on" and ending the sentence there, it would be incorrect to say "sew it back onto" or "sew it back to". Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 14:39

You want to:

"Mend or repair the seam that is joining two tiers on this skirt."

A seam is any place where two pieces of fabric join together (one piece ends, the other piece starts).

This is a tiered skirt--each individual layer is a tier.

Mend is the word we use to describe fixing a seam when it is broken, repair is another generic alternative that is commonly used.

One more option: native English speakers are often very generic unless there is a specific need to be precise. So as a native speaker, if I were, for example, taking this to a repair shop, I would probably just point at the hole and say, "I want you to fix my skirt." This is a simple enough problem that anyone with the slightest understanding of clothing will be able to figure out what you want.


Close. It should be "back onto the skirt".

"Back to ___" is usually used for places ("I went back to the office" meaning "I returned to the office") or people ("I gave it back to my sister" meaning "I returned it to my sister").

  • to can also be used about attaching something to something else. This usage occurs frequently with hems. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/to
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 4:11
  • It can, but usually without "back". "Attach the hem to the skirt" is fine. "Attach the hem back to the skirt" sounds odd to me; "onto" is better there.
    – nschneid
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 4:39

On and onto are both used when you have two different things, for example 'put the book on the table'. In this case the bottom band is not a separate thing to the skirt. The whole skirt is made up of bands. One of them has come unstitched. I would say 'can you repair this skirt' because the integrity of the skirt has been lost and you want the skirt restored to a whole. Alternatively if you want to be more specific 'can you repair this seam' because the seam is the part of the skirt that has come undone.

It would be different if the part that needed fixing was a decorative addition rather than an integral part of the skirt. So if a ribbon trim had come loose I'd say 'can you fix this back on to the skirt' because the skirt and the ribbon are two different things. I would not use repair at all unless the ribbon itself was damaged, when I might say ' can you repair this ribbon and fix it back on to the skirt'.


It could instead be phrased as:

The ruffle on my skirt is loose. Can you repair the ruffle on my skirt?

  • A ruffle is "a series of small folds". I don't see anything like that in the picture. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/ruffle
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 4:00
  • A ruffle is a gathered or pleated piece of fabric. It is sometimes attached to a waistband or other pieces of fabric. Like in the skirt. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 4:13
  • It is (or was) attached, but it's not gathered or pleated.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 7:31
  • That skirt ruffle definitely looks gathered to me. Those little V-shaped pleats are the gathers. Except, of course, where the seam has parted. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 20:39

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