Jenn here. Just wanted to run through some rolled hem options that come up a lot in Sew & Tell patterns. It's by far my preferred method to hemming light-weight woven fabrics and there's a few ways you can go about it.
Generally, each method is super easy and convenient for all sewing levels. You'll find some instructions in each pattern book that guide you through the ways of obtaining a good hem but I thought it might be fun to dive in a little deeper. Are you ready?
First things first... What the hell is a Rolled Hem?!
Well basically it's a very narrow hem that is rolled around itself, encasing the raw edge and stitched. Totally narrower than anything you could turn and press then stitch. It's used on all sorts of light-weight fabrics, like chiffon, georgette or a crepe de chine because it keeps those hems light, airy and drapey just like the fabrics themselves.
A lot of rolled hems hang with a 1/16" - 1/8" width but you can also use a 1/4" wide hem if you have a drapey fabric but it's a little thick for the narrower hem.
So, how the hell do I make this hem happen?
There are 3 ways you could go about obtaining this alluring hem.
One, I will not show you because it involves hand sewing and I DESPISE hand sewing and avoid it at all costs. So, if you want to learn that style I suggest googling it. It's not hard, but hand sewing makes me a bit itchy all over.
That means we will just skip to style 2! This hem style is perfect for anyone because it only requires your sewing machine and a standard straight stitch foot.
You'll start by folding up your hem 1/4" and stitching a skimpy 1/8" line along the edge of that fold.
Now, pick up some super sharp scissors. Trim back the raw edge of the hem, as close to the stitching line as you can get, without clipping the actual stitching.
Fold up your hem one more time towards the wrong side of your fabric, encasing that freshly trimmed edge. Then, stitch around your hem again, this time on top of your previous stitching.
The end result will be two rows of stitching on the wrong side and just a single row on the right side of your hem.
You can totally press these steps if you don't trust yourself to eyeball it. Per usual, I'll stick to pressing my hems at the end.
Here we come to style 3.
It's by far the fastest rolled hem style and my preferred method but it does require a rolled hem foot. They tend to not to be a budget breaker (usually between $6-15) so it won't break the bank to invest in one if you do a bit of rolled hemming. They come in different sizes for most machines but my favorites are 1/8" and 1/4".
If you are starting your hem at a corner you'll need to make a 45º stay-stitch across the edge. Be sure to keep a long thread tail at the beginning. This process helps you get the fabric to wrap through the curved part of the foot.
Your corner is ready now so it's time to thread it in the foot. With the wrong side facing up, feed the thread tails through the Rolled Hem Foot. I like to fold the corner edge down a little bit before it gets in the foot as it helps get a good roll started from the get-go. Those nifty stay-stitches and thread tails will also aid the fabric to curl back too.
Now, if you are starting with a continuous hem (like around a skirt hem) then you can skip all that stay-stiching business and slide your fabric into the Rolled Hem Foot with the wrong side facing up and allow the fabric wrap around curved part of the foot.
Now that the fabric is in the foot, you can just start stitching. It will automatically wrap that raw edge around and leave it inside the hem as you are sewing but I like to keep the end folded over pulled taught to help it roll better (I know what you are thinking... don't pull hard or you will stretch it! Instead, think of pulling it lightly so that it's allowed to naturally roll.)
That's it! That's how to use a Rolled Hem Foot... it's a much faster way than the style 2 and WAY faster than sewing it by hand. Everyone has their own sewing habits so depending on the look you are desiring for your garment you can take your pick from any of these methods.
If you're looking for more check out my post for rolled foot hems on corners here.
Go out and sew your heart out.