Have you ever seen or sewn a rolled hem? This type of hem finish is usually used on lightweight and delicate fabrics and produces a very, very small-turned hem. If you plan on making the Protea dress, Cascade skirt, Tania culottes, or any other garment with delicate fabric, you should be considering this finish.
And lucky you – there are actually multiple ways that you can choose to do a rolled hem. Three, actually! You can do it by machine using a special presser foot, by machine without the foot, or by hand. And we’re here today to show you how to do all three.
Bare with us – there is a lot of information in this post. We just wanted to give you all of your options, and all of the info in one stop for easy reference. So read on to see them all and pick your favourite!
Sewing a rolled hem with a rolled hem foot is the easiest and fastest way to sew a rolled hem. I use a Bernina foot 69 because it allows me to sew rolled hems with a straight stitch, zig-zag stitch or decorative stitches (like shell or scallop).
When buying a rolled hem foot keep in mind what you’ll be using it for to make sure you choose the right one. For example, Bernina makes straight stitch rolled hem feet which only work using the straight stitch and also zig-zag/decorative stitch rolled hem feet.
Once you get the hang of it, I think you’ll really fall in love with the rolled hem foot. I know I did!
The only hard part in my opinion is getting the rolled hem started in the first place.
I find the trick is to first sew a few basting stitches (about 1cm long) and then carefully removed your fabric making sure the stitches don’t unravel. Don’t cut the tail threads, these will become our guide.
Also please note that we will be sewing with the wrong side of the fabric facing upwards.
Use the threads that are attached to your basting stitches to help you guide your hem through the foot. I like the threads because otherwise, it can be a little hard to feed the fabric in at first and get it curving around the guide correctly. I like this method as it allows me to wiggle and guide the fabric from both ends of the hem very easily.
Once you have the first part of the hem nicely seated in the guide, lower your presser foot and begin sewing! I like to use my right hand to keep the raw pulled about 3/8″ to 1/2″ over as I’m sewing to make sure the fabric stays seated properly. But don’t force it! you don’t want to create nasty bubbles in your hem.
And finally, here is what the rolled hem looks like from the right side (first image above) and wrong side (second image above) when using this foot. Neat hey?
Very last thing – don’t forget to press that hem really well and make sure the curve of your hem is conforming correctly.
It’s actually kind of shocking how much of a time saver this little foot is!
This method for sewing a rolled hem is included in the pattern instructions for the Cascade skirt and Tania Culottes. It’s a great option if you don’t have a rolled hem foot – and don’t have the patience for sewing a rolled hem by hand.
It’s quite straightforward – the real trick here is to make sure you don’t skip steps, I can’t emphasise enough the importance of pressing everything as you go :)
Sew ¼” (0.6cm) from the raw edge all the way around the skirt hem.
Fold over the hem along the line of sewing towards the wrong side of the fabric, and press. Going slowly will ensure that the fabric eases into the curve.
Sew a scant 1/8” (0.3cm) from the folded edge all the way around the skirt hem
Trim back the raw edge of the hem, as close to the line of sewing as you can.
Once again fold over the hemline, just enough to enclose the raw edge, and press, ensuring that the curve of the hemline is maintained.
Sew through the centre of your rolled hem, all the way around the hemline. Your finished hem should be a very narrow 1/8” (0.3cm).
On the outside of the garment, there will be one visible line of stitches – on the inside of the garment there will be two visible lines of stitches!
The last method for creating a rolled hem is done by hand. It is definitely the most tedious and time-consuming of the three methods, but the result is beautiful! When done by hand, you create a soft, natural roll with no visible stitches – similar to a slip stitch.
If you have the patience, it is definitely worth it!
Start by sewing 1/4” away from your raw edge. Trim back to 1/8”. This stitch will help you keep an even and consistent roll.
Fold and press over the fabric towards the wrong side, just past that row of stitching.
Now it’s time to start the hand stitching. This is very similar to the slipstitch:
1. Knot your thread, and bring your needle and thread up through the folded edge, right in the fold.
2. Directly above where your thread is coming through the fold, pick up only 1 or two threads right above the raw edge. It’s very important that you only pick up one or two threads – too much and it will show on the right side of the fabric.
3. Go back and insert your needle back into the fold, right next to wear it came out previously. Go through the fold about 1/4″ – 1/2″through the fold.
4. Again, pick up one or two threads directly above. Keep repeat these steps….
This is what it will look like after a few stitches. You should have pairs of vertical threads spaced about 1/4″ – 1/2″ apart.
And now for the magic – lightly pull on your thread, and your fabric will roll itself and those stitches and raw edge will disappear! Don’t pull too tightly, and carefully smooth out with your fingers to reduce any bubbling.
Do this after every 4-5″ of stitching. Stitch, pull, smooth, stitch, pull, smooth, etc.
This is what your hem should look like when finished. From the inside: a soft roll with no visible stitches. From the outside: also invisible, only a few pinpricks should be seen!
Phew, that’s it! Did you make it through all of that? I hope so!
Tell us, do you have a preferred method for doing rolled hems?