How to sew a machine rolled hem

Today, we’re going to tackle one of the trickier hems you might want to sew – the machine-rolled hem.

I struggled with this hem for a long time. I consider it to be a little on the advanced side, because it requires careful handling of the garment while you sew. If you’re new to the technique, I recommend practicing a bit first, and sewing very slowly to start.

We’ll be sewing this hem using a rolled hem foot. There are many rolled hem feet out there. For my machine (a Bernina), there are several. I am using one that creates a 4mm finished hem (the #69, if you’re curious).

Be sure to use the correct needle when sewing this hem. Using a heavy needle with lightweight fabric and sewing close to the edge like this is a recipe for disaster. A heavy needle will push the fabric into the machine and cause it to be “eaten”. Believe me, I know.

When to use it

  • This hem is a great choice for lightweight fabrics. You can use it on slips, skirts, and pretty silk blouses.
  • It is often seen on blouses and shirts.
  • It’s a great choice for sheer fabrics because the hem is less noticeable than a wider one would be.
  • The rolled hem is perfect for curved hems like circle skirts because there is so little bulk. Remember the rule of thumb, the curvier the hem, the narrower it should be.

How to sew a rolled hem

1) Place the fabric under the presser foot, with the edge of the fabric aligned with the edge of the foot.

2) Stitch a few stitches.

3) Raise the presser foot. Without cutting the threads, lift the fabric and pull the thread to get some slack. Move the threads to the back.

4) Lower the presser foot again. Hold onto the excess thread. This will give you something to grasp as you position the fabric. Position the fabric around the curve of the foot. This curve turns the fabric edge under twice and holds it in place as you stitch. If you have trouble getting it in, try using the tip of your seam ripper to help guide the fabric into the crevice.

5) Stitch slowly. As you stitch, make sure the edge of the fabric remains turned under the curve of the foot. This can be tricky and requires some practice. Hold the fabric slightly taut, and position it slightly to the left so that it continues to curl under as you stitch.

That’s it! You now have a tidy little hem, all stitched by machine.

Don’t be too frustrated if you don’t get this at first. It really comes down to handling in this case, and mostly you will just need practice to figure out the position that works best for you with your machine and presser foot.




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