Monday, 26 August 2013

Tutorial: How to do Rolled Hems

What is a rolled hem?

A rolled hem is a really neat way of finishing edges if your garment isn't lined for example. Basically you are folding the fabric over twice encasing the raw edge. This is a great technique and often looks much more professional, its also perfect for any little details you may be adding to the garment such as overlays or ruffles.

There are two ways of creating a rolled hem. The first can be done without a special roll hem foot and is much easier, and the second is done with the roll hem foot attachment and requires a fair bit of patience.

Method #1: Without Roll Hem Foot

This is generally my preferred method but it does depend on the fabric and shape of the edge. The roll hem foot is not good with curved edges or thicker fabrics so this is generally my go-to method especially when hemming dresses or skirts. All you need is your basic machine setup and off you go. This will take twice as long as using the roll hem foot but is much more reliable so its worth it.

  • You will want to start by folding over the edge of your fabric and placing it under the foot. You can make this as small or as wide as you like depending on how deep you want your rolled hem to be. Generally the rolled hem is quite small so turn the fabric over as little as possible but enough that you will be able to sew and fold at the same time.

  • Now change your machine's stitch length to the biggest number. We want to use a long stitch length here as we're going to be removing these stitches later and its much easier to do this with a longer stitch.

  • Now sew down the edge turning the fabric as you go. Try to keep everything in line so you don't end up with wobbly stitches! 
  • You should now have a nice turned over edge. Give it the once over and make sure you haven't turned over too much fabric in one place, you want it to look nice and even.

  • Now grab that edge and turn it over again. You should find that the stitches you've already sewn help you to do this and to hold the fold in place but if your stitches are wobbly this won't work quite as well so keep them straight!

  • Pop it under the foot and turn your stitch length back to your usual number.

  • As you did before turn the edge over as you sew. You'll want to make sure you're covering the first turn so you don't get any raw edges peeking out (such as in the photo on the above right).

  • Now you have two rows of stitching and nice double turn. We only want one row so take your unpicker or snips and take out that first row of stitches we did. If you're really good at this you can actually sew directly over the top of the first row and won't have to remove them later. I've managed to do this a few times and its great for saving time.
And there you have it! A neat rolled hem:

Method #2: With a Roll Hem Foot

The roll hem foot is my arch-nemesis, we have a very difficult relationship and I'm always very wary of using it. But I must admit that there have been times when it has saved me from double turning edges for hours. If you can get it to work this thing is a little miracle. As I mentioned before its not great on curves or thick fabrics so stick to nice long straight edges. You can get a roll hem foot in a couple of different sizes, mine is a 5mm and tends to be the standard size.

  • The trick with this foot is to start as you meant to go on, if you can get that first turn right you should be able to keep it up right to the end.

  • Take the edge of your fabric and before you press the foot down tease the edge up into the curve. This is the curve that is going to "roll" the edge so you want the fabric in there ready to start turning.

  • As you sew try to keep the fabric turning steadily, don't let it bunch up and keep an eye on it as it comes out the other side, you don't want to sew an entire edge only to find that it didn't actually roll it. Hold on to that edge and gently help it turn.

  • With a bit of practice you will begin to see how the edge should be turning through the foot and will learn how to control this.
And with any luck, you'll have a perfect rolled hem:

I hope you found this tutorial useful and if you have any questions or concerns leave a comment below!


  1. Nice tutorial, thanks! A more closeup shot of the rolled hem foot in action would be nice as the pink fabric makes it a little hard to see what's actually happening at the point of the roll. I do all my rolled hems without a foot but they're not very even :( Any tips on how to roll curved hems? I always end up with a fold!

    1. Its so difficult to photograph the roll hem foot with the fabric in it as you have to hold it with one hand and the camera in the other! I'm hoping to add a video to this tutorial soon that should show the foot in action.

      As for curved hems, if you find you're getting a lot of folds then you can use method #1 but you'll want to leave one end of the first lot of stitching loose (don't backstitch) and then pull the thread as though you were gathering the hem. You're basically easing the hem round the curve. I will do a tutorial on roll hemming curved edges soon!