Using a rolled hem foot (also called a narrow hem foot or hemmer foot) is a fast and easy way to get a perfect narrow hem suitable for fine and sheer fabrics and curved hemlines. It is particularly useful for sewing hems on ruffles as the narrow hem allows them to hang beautifully while saving a substantial amount of sewing time.
WHAT IS A ROLLED HEM FOOT?
A rolled hem foot has a curved channel in the front which double folds the raw edge before the needle stitches the hem. It eliminates the need to manually press the hem before you sew and create perfectly even and neat narrow hems.
Most machines come with a rolled hem foot but if yours hasn’t you can pick one up quite cheaply either individually or in a kit from Fancycollective.com. Some of the kits you can purchase are amazing value and I haven’t found a lot of difference in sewing with aftermarket sewing machine feet.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
This is the rolled hem foot from my Janome sewing machine. You will notice it is a snap-on type which makes it easy to switch over quickly. Some older machines may have a screw-on variety.
WHY USE A ROLLED HEM FOOT (HEMMER FOOT)?
- Using a rolled hem foot is faster than pressing hems and then straight stitching.
- The hems created are neat and even.
- You can use your rolled hem (hemmer foot) for sheer fabrics and synthetics which would be impossible to press hems into.
- It is easiest to use a rolled hem on straight edges but with a little practice, you can use it on gentle curves as well.
- A rolled hem foot is generally not suitable for sewing corners and deep curves.
Rolled hem feet are used for blouse and skirt hems, scarves and any project where you need a neat but narrow hem.
Don’t have a rolled hem foot yet? Read how to sew a narrow hem.
TYPES OF ROLLED HEM FOOT
Rolled hem feet coming in different widths to suit your desired hem width. The most common type of rolled hem foot is a 1/8 inch (3mm) seam width.
They also come in a 1/4 inch (6mm) size.
If you are trying to sew a curved hem or really sheer fabrics then you will get the best results from the smaller hem size.
HOW TO USE A ROLLED HEM FOOT
STITCH SETTINGS FOR A ROLLED HEM FOOT
Adjust your sewing machine to a straight stitch with a smaller stitch length. Because of the narrow width of the hem you are about to sew, the length looks more in proportion if you set it to around 2.0.
In some instances, you may prefer a zig-zag stitch but experiment and see what kind of look suits the item you are sewing.
CLEAN UNFRAYED EDGES
Double-check your fabric to make sure the edge is not frayed. A clean edge will make it easier to get a neat hem and stop frayed pieces of cotton sticking out from the final edge. There is nothing worse than having to go back and cut or pick out all the protruding threads at the end.
For fabrics that fray really badly, cut the edge immediately before sewing so it doesn’t have time to unravel.
STEP 1: FINGER PRESS THE END
Start by finger pressing the end over twice by 1/8 inch (3mm). Hold it in place with a pin placed horizontally.
You will want to fold over the first 3 inches (8cm).
STEP 2: PREPARING TO SEW
Lower the presser foot on your fabric and remove the pin. Stitch 4 stitches while holding the threads to prevent it from catching underneath.
If you forget to hold the threads at the back, you will probably get a jam in your machine as the end of the fabric is pushed into the dog feed below.
STEP 3: STITCH THE ROLLED FOOT HEM
After your 4 stitches, stop with the needle down in the fabric.
Lift up the foot and insert the folded fabric into the curl of the foot.
Start stitching again holding the fabric in front.
Look what a neat edge this gives you! I couldn’t have achieved quite the same result without using the rolled edge foot, particularly for 18 inches (3mm) hems. Generally, when I try and manually press hems that small I burn my fingers with the iron.
As you stitch along it helps to gently hold the edge out slightly folded. It did take me a little practice to work out exactly where to hold the edge to get the best results.
Resist trying to curl or pull the fabric yourself and let the curved channel do the work. You will probably find that you need to stop regularly to reposition your hand in front.
CORNERS WITH A ROLLED HEM FOOT
If you do need to sew a corner with your rolled hem foot you will need to sew in in 2 passes. Sew the first edge all the way to the end. Then do the second edge separately starting at step 1.
A better way to sew hems with corners may be to use a regular foot and a normal double folded edge with a mitered corner technique. This method will take a little longer so it depends on how much time you have and what perfection level you want in your final product.
Now that you have mastered how to use your rolled hem foot (hemmer foot) why not try these 2 easy techniques for creating a narrow hem with your regular foot.
Do you have any extra tips to share? Comment below.