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Back that hem up... Rolled Hem Sewing Tutorial

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

Jenn here. Just wanted to run through some rolled hem options that come up a lot in Sew & Tell patterns. This is 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 of my pattern books, which will guide you through the ways of obtaining a good hem. I thought it might be fun to dive in a little deeper. Are you ready?

What is a Rolled Hem?

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, such as, chiffon, georgette or crepe de chine. 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. Using a wider rolled hem for fabric that is a little thicker is recommended, especially if using a hemmer foot.

How Do we Sew a Rolled Hem?

There are 2 ways you could go about obtaining this alluring hem on a sewing machine.

The first method 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 2.

Sewing a Rolled Hem with a Hemmer Foot.

It's by far the fastest 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, invest in one if you do a bit of rolled hemming is a great addition to your sewing accessories. 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 hemmer foot.

Your corner is ready, it's time to thread it into the foot. With the wrong side facing up, feed the thread tails through the hemmer foot. I like to fold the corner edge down a little bit before it gets in the foot. This 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-stitching business. Instead, just slide your fabric into the rolled hem presser 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. I like to keep the end folded over and pulled taught to help it roll better.

That's it! That's how to use a Hemmer Foot for a rolled hem.

Looking to take your rolled hems to the edge? Sometimes hemming corners is a real beast. Check out this sewing tutorial I created here that makes sewing "napkin corners" using a rolled hemmer foot easy peasy!

Alright Seamster, it's time to go out and sew your heart out.





Jenn Barron

A pattern specialist, master seamster and digital badass. Jenn establishes a place where creativity, authenticity and sewing meet, helping make all the things so that you can  be you.

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