How do you sew
a rolled hem?
How do you sew hem edging?How to sew narrow
Raw edges of fabric are prone to fraying and
they look unfinished.
The other day, we were
setting up a big party for family and friends
to celebrate the soon to be birth of our
seventh grandchild and our second grand
daughter. The piles of paperwork, fabric, mail,
etc. were properly stuffed away out of sight. A
light dusting was complete. We were ready to
decorate. Our dining room table will serve as
the centerpiece for gifts and the “Baby Party”
cake. I found this beautiful satin jacquard
fabric and thought it would be perfect as a
tablecloth, but I didn’t want to lose the
opportunity to use it for something else like a
beautiful jacket. So, I decided to use the
fabric without edging it. I just left the raw
Now, I must say it looked
good, and no one said a thing about the edges.
Unfortunately, every time I approached the
table, I noticed a few threads fraying along
the edge. I felt embarrassed and self
conscious. What I should have done was sew a
neat rolled hem along the edge. Maybe nobody
else noticed, but I would have been so
The rolled edge is wonderful
for delicate to medium weight fabrics. Once
finished the edge is almost entirely forgotten.
The edge is just the way it should be.
By comparison, the edge
could be finished with a simple fold over and
top stitching, and that may be necessary on
heavier fabrics. But the rolled hem gives a
finished look free of the bulk and heaviness
common to the folded over hem.
A rolled hem is a hem
created by use of a special rolled hem presser
foot on a serger or sewing machine. You feed
the fabric through the guide in the foot. The
foot actually rolls the fabric over in
preparation for sewing. As the fabric is fed
through the rolled hem foot it is top stitched
in place creating a very narrow hem that can be
used on dozens of different projects: table
cloths, scarves, garments, linings, ruffles,
etc. The finished hem will be between one and
six millimeters wide depending on the size of
the specialized presser foot and the thickness
of the fabric.
Consider these question: How
to rolled hem on serger? How to make a
narrow rolled hemming on serger and
flare? How to hemming sheer
curtains? How to sew hem edging?
How to sew narrow hem? How do you sew a rolled
Follow these simple guidelines to perfect
1. You must have a good
sewing machine (or serger) and its rolled hem
2. Prepare your sewing by
cleaning the work area making it free of debris
and anything that might snag the fabric while
you sew. Clean away any lint from the bobbin
area, and make sure the machine is properly
3. Install the Rolled Hem Presser Foot.
Different brands and models offer different
sized rolled hem feet. You may actually have
only one or two or three different sizes that
fit your machine. If you have more than one
size select the one best suited to your
project. If for any reason you do not have a
rolled hem foot, you may purchase a generic
one. Take one of your regular feet with you so
your sewing specialist can match your machine
appropriately. When you examine the rolled hem
foot you will notice a turned piece of metal
that looks like a scroll. This actually helps
turn the fabric in preparation for sewing.
Under the presser foot, you will notice a
groove that allows the rolled hem to easily
pass under the presser foot after it is
4. Select a straight stitch
appropriate for Rolled Hem Presser Foot. Note:
many machines allow you to sew a straight
stitch in multiple positions (left, center,
right, in between). Make certain that your
machine stitch is lined up properly with the
needle hole in the Rolled Hem Presser Foot. A
narrow zig zag setting may also be used if
desired, but make sure that it fits your
5. Normal tension settings are recommended
unless you have recently changed the size of
the thread you are using for the project. If
you are changing the size of thread, you will
need to adjust accordingly. Larger thread means
decreasing tensions a little. Smaller thread
means increase tension settings a little. After
your sew your test seam, you may need to
readjust your tensions for perfect stitch
6. Match Needle and Thread
to the project. Since most rolled hems are sewn
on delicate to medium weight fabrics, you will
likely use a size 8 (delicate) to a size 12
(medium heavy) needle. The thread may be a fine
long fiber polyester embroidery type thread or
a natural thread matched to the fabric type.
For super delicate fabrics use size 60 threads,
and for medium fabrics use size 50 threads.
7. Adjust the stitch length to medium for
delicate fabric and a bit longer for medium
weight fabrics. On your sewing machine, your
stitch length adjusting knob will have settings
ranging from 0 Fine to 4 or more. The larger
the number the longer the stitch and fewer
stitches per inch.
STITCH LENGTH SETTINGS
SETTING MM SPI
0 0.5 60 (fine setting)
1 1 24
2 Delicate 2 13
3 3 9
4 Medium 4 6
5 5 5
6 6 4
Setting is the adjustment on your stitch
MM stands for Millimeters on the Metric
SPI stands for Stitches Per Inch.
8. ALWAYS TEST FIRST. You
may be an expert, and thinking to yourself, “I
already know how to do all of this.” But one
mistake can ruin a whole project, unless your
are careful to double check “all is well”
first. To Test follow steps 9-20 on a piece of
scrap fabric of the same type as you are using
in your project. If you have problems, during
the test, fix before proceeding. It will save
lots of heartache later. When your test is just
right, proceed to use your project fabric and
complete steps 9 and following.
9. Trim the edge to be
hemmed. Remove any loose and especially any
already frayed threads from the edge of the
piece. Whenever possible align the fabric to be
edge along its lengthwise grain. This will make
a better hem than on cross grain or bias of the
10. Lay the fabric for hemming right side down
(wrong side up). Position the fabric so the
insertion will be to the right and the bulk of
the fabric lies to your left.
11. Prepare the fabric for
insertion into the presser foot. Your goal is
to produce the smallest possible hem. Tightly
fold over the edge of the fabric two times.
Make the finished fold the same size as the
guide on the presser foot. You may use a pin to
hold the fold in place, or proceed without
12. Using your right hand, roll the hand wheel
toward you until the needle is at its highest
13. With the folded fabric
held tightly, lift the presser foot and slide
the folded fabric under it. Lower the presser
foot to hold the fabric in place.
14. Roll the hand wheel forward some more until
the needle penetrates the fabric to hold it in
15. Lift the presser foot,
and remove any pins you may have near the
presser foot. Slide the folded fabric into the
shaped scroll guide of the foot.
16. Lower the presser foot and prepare to
17. Take thread trails in
your left hand and hold them to the left and
behind the needle to prevent their messing up
18. Take hold the edge of the fabric rolling
the fabric over your thumb. Gently, feed and
guide it through the rolled hem presser foot
scroll guide as you sew.
19. Periodically adjust your
fabric using both hands and guide it through
the foot. Smooth the fabric with your left hand
preventing clumps and mounds. Guide the fabric
with your right hand. This will take some
practice to keep just the right amount of
fabric flowing and at the proper turn.
a. Take care to avoid the unfolding of the
fabric, because this will expose the raw edge
of the fabric.
b. Also avoid stuffing (feeding too much)
fabric, because this may cause the excess to
bulge or peek through the edge.
20. It never hurts to stop
and make repairs midstream.
a. If you find that for any reason, your hem is
just falling apart, looking really bad; stop.
Roll the hand wheel to raise the needle to its
highest position. Lift the presser foot, and
draw back about a quarter inch to an inch of
hem. Take out the bad, and reset to sew in the
b. If the problem is not yet stitched in
(unfolding ahead of the needle), set your
needle down to hold the hem in place. Lift the
presser foot and make appropriate adjustments.
Reset and go again.
Hemming is a true art form.
Beautiful perfect hems finish the project. They
give the feeling of satisfied completion. They
bring all the pieces together. The Rolled Hem
is just one of several exciting techniques for
finishing the edges of your project. There are
also several enhancements and alternative ways
to achieve the Rolled Hem. Not only can you do
a rolled hem on your sewing machine, you can do
one on your serger.
Donna Trumble is a professional designer,
seamstress, author, sewing educator, and sewing
business owner. She leads several
Sewing Show And Tell groups in her stores
guiding participants to shop sewing machines
and learn about sewing and quilting.
David Trumble is a sewing
professional, author, semi-retired minister,
sewing machine technician, and CFO of Temple
Sewing And Supply, Inc.
For more information on sewing show and tell
groups, check out "Sewing, The World's Greatest
Hobby" by Donna and David Trumble. And
check out the local Sew And Quilt Stores in
Killeen, Temple, and Waco, Texas or at