Bringing home my tutorial from One Thimble!

Have you ever wanted to sew a rolled hem? Sheer fabrics long to be finished with a rolled hem—rolled hems are so beautiful and unobtrusive on sheer fabrics. Curved hems, too, are great candidates for a rolled hem, as you don’t have to ease in the extra hem width. Rolled hems are ideal for hemming ruffles. And of course, if you have just barely enough length for the garment, the small hem allowance of the rolled hem also makes it a winner.

There are three ways to sew a rolled hem:

1) With a serger. But many people (including me!) do not have a serger. Also, the serger rolled hem looks different than a sewing machine rolled hem, and I prefer the latter.

2) With a rolled hem foot on a standard machine. But rolled hem feet tend to have a hard time going over seams, and very few garments don’t have side seams to deal with.

3) With a regular foot on a standard machine. No special equipment is needed, and it manages side seams with perfect ease. Also, the several lines of stitching in this method add a little extra weight, and having more weight in a hem makes for a nicer drape to the garment. Sheers in particular drape better with this (admittedly small) amount of extra weight.

How to sew a rolled hem with a regular foot on a standard machine

Rolled hems are intended for light to medium weight woven fabrics, and are the best choice for sheers. This method uses a 5/8” (1.5cm) hem allowance, but you could use slightly less if necessary.

Sew a line a scant 3/8” (1cm) from the edge of the fabric. (Scant means just barely the stated measurement, or possibly just slightly less.) If you need a smaller hem allowance, you could shrink this distance a bit.

I’m using a contrasting thread so you can see what’s going on, but, of course, you will want to use matching thread. Unless you’re going for contrast, in which case, have at it!

Use this stitching line to help you fold the fabric to the wrong side. Don’t press yet; if the hem is curved (as it is with the Brook Blossom Skirt), pressing at this stage can distort the hemline. Instead, simply stitch as you fold, this time 1/8” (3mm) from the folded edge.

Note: this is a maximum! If you are comfortable stitching even closer to the folded edge, go ahead! Just make sure to keep an even—and not more than 1/8” (3mm)—distance. You may want to experiment on a scrap of fabric to see what distance you prefer.

Trim the seam allowance as close as you can to the second stitching line. Seriously, trim as close as you possibly can without actually cutting your stitching line. The closer you can trim it, the tinier your finished hem can be. Appliqué and embroidery scissors are good for this, but any small, sharp scissors will be fine.

Fold the seam up to the fabric’s wrong side one more time, keeping it as narrow as possible. Now it’s time to press the hem.

Topstitch (that is, sew from the right side of the fabric) close to the inner fold. This should also be close to the outer fold, since the hem is so tiny. 😉 Use your fingertips to feel this inner fold so you can tell where to stitch.

Why not just stitch from the wrong side of the fabric? In my experience, if stitching is going to look weird, it’s going to happen on the bobbin side of the seam. I like to have that on the inside of the garment. And I just want to keep a close eye on the visible part of the seam to be sure.

Don’t backstitch when you start/stop a line of topstitching; this will leave a visible build-up of thread in your line. Instead, leave several inches of thread tails. When you’re done with the topstitching, thread a hand stitching needle with the top threads, and send them to the wrong side of the fabric. Now you can neatly tie off the threads by hand.

Give the hem another good press, and you’re done!

The rolled hem is a few extra steps, but it really isn’t hard at all. And now that you have another beautiful, couture finish in your sewing repertoire, go and create even more amazing things!

What’s a sewing technique you’ve always wanted to learn?