Tips for Beginners: Rolled Hems


What is a rolled hem?

Rolled hems are a very small turned hem finished with a straight stitch. They’re made by rolling up the raw edge until it’s hidden by a small hem, then flattening the hem down and straight stitching down the middle. They’re easiest to work with lightweight woven fabrics such as cottons, silks and voile, and work well on a slightly curved hemline. The light delicate nature and simple straight stitch securing makes them perfect for the bottoms of skirts and dresses, or intimate items such as babydolls or your favourite frilly knickers! As they can sometimes add a slight wave to the hemline, try to avoid using them on straight edged areas such as armholes.

Rolled hems by machine

An extremely delicate rolled hem can be achieved with hand stitching, but don’t despair if your hand sewing isn’t quite up to scratch. With practice, a machined rolled hem can be just as perfect as a hand one, and using your sewing machine can really speed up the process. If you’re making large items, or lots of small ones, why not give it a try on your machine!

The easiest way to create a rolled hem on a machine is to use a specialised roll hem foot like this one. These roll and tuck the fabric for you as you sew, speeding up the process and ensuring you get an evenly sized hem!
First, make a normal straight stitch and backstitch over the first inch of your hem, and cut the threads (leave the threads quite long). This anchoring will help you smoothly pull the hem through the first few troublesome inches of the roll hem.

With your secure stitching in place, roll the first few inches oh your hem and place it into the gap of the roll foot. Pull gently on the threads you left hanging as you sew, to ease it through the foot. Then simply slowly sew along your hem, helping to roll the fabric into the foot when needed.

Tips and tricks

  1. Trim your fabric very neatly, a couple of inches at a time, to reduce any fraying. The neater the edge you work with the easier the roll hem!
  2. Keep a pin or awl on hand to help manipulate the fabric into the roll – changes in hem thickness (such as sewing over seams) can slightly jump your fabric out of place. Helping to ease the fabric back in place will keep your hem neat.
  3. As in all cases of sewing, the magic trick is to be patient! Although they can be tricky to get to grips with, a rolled hem should be easy to turn out if you take your time as you go. A little less speed can save a lot of unpicking! Why not try the method out on some fabric scraps first, to get used to the foot?

Without a roll hem foot

If you don’t have a roll hem foot, you can use a presser foot instead!

  1. Sew a straight stitch 1/4” from your raw edge, and fold the hem up from your straight stitch
  2. Sew another straight stitch a tiny 1/8” in from the edge
  3. Trim the raw edge away as close as you can get to your stitching
  4. Fold once more, just enough to encase the raw edge (you want as small a fold as you can)
  5. Then press into position and straight stitch again down the middle of the hem!

If you’re still struggling to handle the roll hem, why not message us through facebook or twitter letting us know what’s going on. We’re always happy to help you out, and we love to see your creations!