Tutorial with three methods to sew a rolled hem – on a regular sewing machine with a regular foot, on a sewing machine with a rolled hem foot, or on a serger.
Hey y’all, today we’re tackling how to sew a rolled hem, sometimes also called a baby hem. This hemming method creates a very narrow hem, with the raw edge either rolled under twice or encased in thread, depending on which method you choose. A rolled hem is perfect for garments made from delicate fabrics like silk scarves, or lightweight fabrics like cotton voile or chiffon. You can sew a rolled hem on skirts, napkins, ruffles, lingerie and more.
I’ll be showing you how to do this on a regular sewing machine with a regular presser foot and a zig zag stitch, on a sewing machine with a rolled hem foot, and on a serger.
I’ve used contrasting thread on these samples so you can see the stitching, but if you do this on your garment, you’d usually want to use matching thread.
Method 1: With a Regular Sewing Machine and a Zig Zag Stitch
It is possible to sew a rolled hem wrapped in thread without any special equipment. In the images below I used my vintage Singer 503. This method uses a regular sewing machine and a regular foot, but you do need to have a zig zag stitch. Set your machine to the widest zig-zag it will do, and a very short stitch length.
Fold and press your edge 1/8″ to the wrong side all around. Hand crank the flywheel on the machine until the needle is down in the far right position. Place the folded edge of the fabric agains the needle and lower the foot.
Stitch over the edge, with one side of the zig-zag landing over the edge. The other side of the stitch should hit on the fabric just beyond the raw edge. This will wrap the edge of the fabric in thread and create a rolled hem, which looks like this.
Here’s another view on polyester crepe sewn with my newer sewing machine.
Here’s a video of the other two methods to sew a rolled hem, which you can also watch on YouTube here, but make sure to scroll down and keep reading as well to get all the details.
Method 2: Use A Rolled Hem Foot
Alternately, if you have a rolled hem foot, you can skip the pressing and let the foot do the folding for you with a straight stitch. Just feed the fabric through the foot and let it do the double folds for you as you stitch. It helps if you kind of help feed the fabric at an angle into the foot. You can see me doing that in the video above.
To get the very beginning of the fabric into the foot, put it under the presser foot and sew one stitch by hand cranking while you hold the upper and bobbin threads. Then lift the presser foot and use those tail threads to pull the end of the fabric into the foot.
Below is what the right side and wrong side of this hem finish look like.
Method 3: Sew a Rolled Hem with a Serger
For the tightest and fastest hem though, nothing beats the narrow rolled hem a serger can achieve. This is a three thread stitch that will use the looper thread to wrap around the raw edge of the fabric and finish it.
Each machine will have instructions to convert your machine to a rolled hem. On my Brother 1034d I had to remove both the left needle and stitching finger. On my Baby Lock Imagine it’s a matter of removing the left needle and turning some dials to the rolled hem setting.
Below you can see both the top and underside of the narrow hem made on the serger.
On a serger, you can play with the stitch width and length. If you have a rolled hem that is separating from the rest of the fabric, this has happened to me on cotton gauze. To fix that, use a wider stitch and longer stitch length.
You can also use the rolled hem setting on the serger and combine it with the differential feed on knit fabrics to create a lettuce hem. Set your differential feed to stretch your fabric as you stitch, and you’ll get this wavy look on the edges (I apologize for the lack of sharpness in this old picture, but you get the idea).
So there are three methods to sew a narrow hem or rolled hem. Hopefully you find one that works for you! Napkins can be a great way to practice your settings and get the hang of sewing rolled hems.
I never knew I could do this with a regular machine and regular foot! THANK YOU! So excited to try this!
I have the rolled hem foot but use a regular straight stitch in regular length and it creates a beautiful baby hem, but yes it does takes some practice to feed the fabric just right. My favourite way to create a hem on a curved hem (or straight) is to create my own single fold bias binding in Liberty of London tana lawn, it’s easy to navigate the curve when you line up the edges right sides together and sew on the closest fold, fold up on the sewing line (a millimetre over so it’s not seen from the front), iron and sew again, I love to see the occasional beautiful flash of Liberty!
Thank-you!!! I finished my dress a few nights after the Pattern Anthology release however I am still neglecting the hemming of it. I made the dress a little to big that it will be a long while before my daughter wears it but I think that the rolled hem might end my procrastination’s on this project at least. I hate hemming especially with non cotton fabrics, and all that pressing takes too long but I have a rolled hem foot. Yay!!!
I’ve got a post on Craft Gossip scheduled for later tonight that links to your tutorial:
After seeing that the rolled hem presser foot for my machine was $60, I decided to look around for a way to do it with a regular foot. Thanks for the great tips! This was the simplest method I found and it turned out great!
Thank you so much! I had 8th grade sewing class ages ago, and would not have thought I could do this. Excellent, clear instructions. I was able to take a scarf I bought off ebay that was 36″ square, and make it a normal bandana size. And the 2 cut edges look fabulous and won’t unravel! 😀