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3 Ways to Sew a Rolled Hem

Three ways to sew a rolled hem

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

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!

Sewing a rolled hem with a rolled hem foot
Sewing a rolled hem with a rolled hem foot

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.

Sewing a rolled hem with a rolled hem foot
Sewing a rolled hem with a rolled hem foot

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.

Sewing a rolled hem with a rolled hem foot
Sewing a rolled hem with a rolled hem foot

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.

Right side Sewing a rolled hem with a rolled hem foot
Rolled hem from the right side
Wrong Side Sewing a rolled hem with a rolled hem foot
Rolled hem from the wrong side

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!


Sewing a rolled hem using a regular foot

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 :)

Sewing a rolled hem with a regular foot

Sew ¼” (0.6cm) from the raw edge all the way around the skirt hem.

Sewing a rolled hem with a regular foot

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.

Sewing a rolled hem with a regular foot

Sew a scant 1/8” (0.3cm) from the folded edge all the way around the skirt hem

Sewing a rolled hem with a regular foot

Trim back the raw edge of the hem, as close to the line of sewing as you can.

Sewing a rolled hem with a regular foot

Once again fold over the hemline, just enough to enclose the raw edge, and press, ensuring that the curve of the hemline is maintained.

Sewing a rolled hem with a regular foot

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).

Sewing a rolled hem with a regular foot

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!


Sewing a rolled hem by hand

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!

Sew 1/4" away from the raw edge of the fabric

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.

Fold and press, then begin hand stitching along the hem

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….

Pick up one or two threads directly above the hemline

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.

Rolled hem by hand stitching in progress

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.

Hand stitched rolled hem right and wrong side

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?

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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Marie
9 years ago

Great timing! I just discovered the rolled hem foot for myself :) I have a question though: My fabric tends to feed crookedly towards the end. I can’t seem to finish as nicely as I started. The hem tends to extend over the edge of the fabric if you know what I mean. Any suggestions how to avoid that?

I love chiffon fabrics and that rolled hem foot is what finally persuaded me to try a chiffon skirt :)

EileenLaurette
9 years ago
Reply to  Marie

Marie – I found that I used to do exactly the same thing. What I discovered was that as I was guiding the fabric into the foot, I tended to slightly pull the fabric. This can cause the fabric to stretch just enough to where it is pulled a bit forward of the fabric under the foot. If I relax enough and don’t stress so much about feeding the fabric into the foot, I don’t pull it so much and the entire hem ends up in better shape.

Marie
9 years ago
Reply to  EileenLaurette

Gahh! That seems like such a simple fix :) Of course I’m tugging way too much! I’l try not to do that next time around. Thanks, Eileen Laurette :)

Kelly
9 years ago

Thanks for this post! I really want to try a rolled hem by hand, it’s beautiful!

Holly
Editor
9 years ago
Reply to  Kelly

thanks Kelly! The hand rolled hem is definitely the most time consuming, but I think it has the most beautiful finish! Very much worth it :)

crystalpleats
9 years ago

Great post. I recently bought a rolled hem foot, but have yet to use it. Your tutorial plus your new patterns will be a great reason to try it out soon.

Nicole
9 years ago

Thanks for another awesome tutorial Megan! You always explain everything so well!

EileenLaurette
9 years ago

Megan – I prefer the second method, especially when working with chiffon type fabrics that have a lot of give to them. I really like it with full skirts – because when I get to the bias area of the circumference, it never seems to want to stay in the foot!

cathy
9 years ago

cant wait to try all three of these!

LauraMichelle
LauraMichelle
9 years ago

Genius! Thank you! I was just staring at this foot for my Elna, wondering how to actually use it. Thanks!

Rochelle New
9 years ago

Thank you for the visuals with the rolled hem foot! I bought one but got frustrated when the fabric kept slipping out. I think I’ve only used it twice. I just need more practice I think? Maybe I’ll try one of your other methods instead. Thanks for sharing them :)

ClaireE
9 years ago

This is perfect timing! I’m about to sew a chiffon or silk dress and wondered about a rolled hem but had no idea where to start. Thanks for showing the different ways.

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Tilly
9 years ago

Pinning this for later – thank you! x

Christine
Christine
9 years ago

Great tutorial. What do you do when you reach a side seam with the rolled hem foot? I cannot get it to move smoothly through the foot. Looks like methods 2 and 3 avoid that problem.

Alan
8 years ago
Reply to  Christine

Ditto! I am doing a dress using method #2 because method #1 always comes out a little sloppy for me. Thanks for the helpful tip about using thread-ends to help start the stitch, but how do you handle the seams?

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[…] started – getting the fabric to feed properly – which has put me off using it.  I saw this blog post on rolled hems, so it encouraged me to have another go. But after fiddling around for about 30 mins […]

Emmy Lou
Emmy Lou
8 years ago

I haven’t done a rolled hem by hand in a long LONG time (years)and couldn’t remember how it was done and couldn’t find a book that showed how to do one. I sew for ballroom dresses for my sister and finally convinced her to pop for silk chiffon from Mood rather than polyester from JoAnn’s. The dress has multiple ruffles and I just could not get a decent edge on the ruffles no matter how much preliminary basting I did. Ah yes, your directions are FANTASTIC…it all comes back to me now. Thank you so much. Yes, its a royal pain in the you know what but come on, silk chiffon, how could I not do a hand sewn rolled hem? Sigh! I love sewing for my sister, she is so appreciative. I also volunteered myself to make a dress (Butterick #5985) with a three tiered chiffon Flamenco inspired skirt. Ok, its JoAnn polyester but the dress takes 10 yards and even I couldn’t justify Mood silk chiffon for this one. Frankly, a hand sewn rolled hem is no more labor intensive than one basted by hand and then machine stitched. Think of it as meditation…good for the soul. Again, thanks so much for the directions.

Annette
Annette
8 years ago

I was considering getting a rolled hem foot for my machine as I am making several chiffon wrap skirts for my daughter for her ballet lessons. The foot is even what I googled first today, then I found your tutorial. The hand rolled hem is really quite simple and no fuss. It may be tedious, but a great way to keep my hands busy while watching a movie or tv in the evening and not have to be removed from the family if I were to use a machine. And it is so much prettier than the machine sewn hem. Thank you.

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[…] 3 ways to do a rolled hem without a serger by Megan Nielsen […]

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[…] equipment. So, having had another quick hurtle on the internet, I found this wonderful tutorial at Megan Nielsen Design Diary, which detailed sewing a rolled hem by machine with a rolled hem foot, with a machine with a […]

Claire
8 years ago

Hello Megan, I’ve just used your technique to sew my first rolled hem – without a rolled hem zipper foot. I was very pleased with the result. Thanks for posting this tutorial.

Rhiannon
Rhiannon
8 years ago

Thank you for this very helpful tutorial. I’m making silk scarves and was a bit nervous about how was going to do the edges as I’ve never worked with silk before. Thanks to your tutorial I’ve just done my first rolled hem sample and it was surprisingly easy!

Nikki H.
Nikki H.
8 years ago

Thank you so much! I could never get that rolled hem foot to work! I will definitely try the thread tail method to get it started. Looking forward to starting my Tania Culottes. The pattern is brilliant and I know it will get a lot of wear this summer.

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[…] I think my favourite part of this project was learning how to hand stitch a rolled hem (I used Megan Nielsen’s really handy tutorial). […]

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[…] Ceci mis à part, le reste de la cousette s’est déroulée de façon fluide, y compris le mini ourlet roulé pour les finitions de la blouse. Megan a réalisé un tutoriel plutôt pas mal au sujet de cet ourlet, c’est ici. […]

Rosalie
Rosalie
8 years ago

I just got a pair of palazzo pants, there is a slick lining which is the right length for me, but the chiffon outer layer is a couple of inches too long. I’m going to use the hand method to shorten and hem that outer layer and am looking forward to wearing my new pants!

Thanks for the tutorial :)

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4 years ago

Design Your Delicate Evening

[…] several chiffon wrap skirts for my daughter for her ballet lessons. The foot is […]

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[…] Fonte:  blog.megannielsen.com […]

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Xoxo Slick Is A Pair

[…] your tutorial. The hand rolled hem is really quite simple and no fuss. It may be […]

Jackie
Jackie
3 years ago

If you use the hand rolled hem technique to finish a scarf what do you do at the corners?

Clare
Clare
3 years ago

This is so clear and simple! Fantastic. I am now in an excellent mood because I can sew a rolled hem!!

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[…] lining, but for the shell I decided to have a go at hand-sewing my first ever rolled hem, following this tutorial on the Megan Nielsen blog. It was pretty relaxing to sit down for a couple of hours and listen to podcasts while I stitched […]

marilee
marilee
3 months ago

Thank you-that was very clear!!

Sarah
Sarah
12 days ago

I agree with those who find the roller foot a great advantage on the straight grain but fairly unsatisfactory on the bias.