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Roll Hemming a Curve Made Easy

This blog post is excerpted from a section I wrote for the book: 1000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts & Tips, by Deepika Prakash from

Just so you know, 100% of the royalties generated from this book go to breast cancer research.

Working with lamé fabrics:

Lamé fabrics are regarded by some as too difficult for any but the most experienced. This isn't true-with a little information, and a little practice on the scraps of the fabric you are working with, you will get polished results.

Lamé is the French word for "blade", which refers to the appearance of the yarn under magnification-imagine a very tiny strip of tape. This is what the lamé yarn looks like.

So, I refer to these fabrics as lamé fabrics, instead of "metallic" fabrics, because of the varying appearance of the yarns. For the look of metal, the yarns can be made from actual metal, or man-made materials. Metal yarns have a richer luster than man-made, but they are difficult to work with, and may tarnish or darken over time.

  These examples are made from man-made fibers and present fewer challenges. Consequently, you can cut it with a hot knife against a sheet of glass and the seam allowances won't fray.
  When sewing lamé fabrics, it's helpful to sew with paper. I've found that a roll of cash register (or adding machine) tape is good for this purpose. It is thin enough to tear easily, but heavy enough to control the fabric.

Pin the cash register tape to the front side of the fabric.


  Turn the work over, and cut the paper to match the cut edge of the fabric.
  Turn the work back over, so the paper is on top before sewing. Re-pin so the pins are on the top.
  Stitch through the paper and fabric, 1/8" in from the cut edge of the paper.
  Take the work to the pressing table. This is what the work looks like after sewing.

  Turn the paper to the wrong side of the fabric, rolling the fabric over the cut edge of the paper
  Press the edge flat.
  Edge stitch 1/16" to the right of the folded edge.
  This is what the finished work looks like.


Tear the paper away from the work, as shown. The will remains there.

If you're concerned that the paper will "read" through, you can color the paper with permanent markers, or use the variation shown below.

  Here is the result:

A Variation:

The above hem works well for opaque fabrics, because the paper caught in the roll of the hem isn't visible. If you are working with a translucent or sheer fabric, you don't want to see the paper. If the fabric can stand being washed, you can make some substitutions:

Instead of the cash register tape, use strips of water-soluble stabilizer (Sulky Fabri-Solvy is a good choice). When sewing, for lamé use the fine monofilament thread for all sewing. Once the sewing is finished, dissolve the stabilizer, and press dry. You will have a sheer hem!



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Comments (40)

jomac30 jomac30 writes: If the pattern for a full skirted dress says "shorten here" and the line is a semi-circle, how do I shorten the length?
would I first cut off all the extra length under the "Shorten Here" line?
There is no shorten here line pat way up the skirt. The skirt of the dress pattern is 35"., I want it to be 25"
Posted: 6:39 pm on May 24th

KennethDKing KennethDKing writes: The knife is by a company called "Air Nouveau", and if you google it there are some suppliers on the internet who have it.
Posted: 12:52 pm on October 28th

jokevelema jokevelema writes: Please can somebody help me to find a hot knife as mentioned in the article above? I would love to buy one.
Posted: 1:11 pm on September 18th

KennethDKing KennethDKing writes: In answer to the question of hems on a finished garment (I assume this is ready to wear) curling: Aside from taking the hems out and re-doing them, there's nothing else you can do. Ready to wear clothing is constructed to different standards, and they press the heck out of a hem once they've sewn it, so it will lie flat on the hanger in the store. But once you wash it and press it, the incorrect stitching will make it curl.

I wish there were another solution.
Posted: 8:16 am on June 25th

Kateinbton Kateinbton writes: I have a related question on curved hems. I just purchased a linen blouse with curves at bottom. Almost immediately after putting on the freshly ironed shirt, the hems - both front and back - curl up. What can I do to stop this?

Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks. Kate in B-ton.
Posted: 9:10 pm on June 24th

Linda74Sews Linda74Sews writes: Thanks so much for the response. There are so many items I would like to make this season that have either ruffles or edges that require a narrow rolled hem. I am determined to master the technique before I tackle any of them and will definitely try your suggested remedy.
Posted: 8:45 am on June 18th

KennethDKing KennethDKing writes: To Linda74sews: I find that when I encounter a straight grain portion of a curve, stretching the fabric slightly while pressing, before doing this technique, will help make the hem roll well. The object of the game in navigating this section, is to make the folded edge of the hem allowance a little longer, which helps it to roll.
Posted: 8:50 am on June 12th

Linda74Sews Linda74Sews writes: I tried your technique on a ruffle for a summer blouse. The ruffle pattern piece was rather circular so it covers both bias edges and on grain edges. While your technique is superb along the bias cut edges, the grain edges were significantly more difficult. I have also tried using a rolled hem presser foot, but in either case getting the fine edge to turn at the grain edge is still impossible. Any advice?
Posted: 7:03 am on June 11th

Nannysc Nannysc writes: Thank you so very much for providing another excellent tutorial that so many of us will benefit from as we sew. I am saving this one too! You never cease to amaze me!!!
Posted: 6:44 pm on June 10th

KennethDKing KennethDKing writes: To answer about avoiding pinholes:

Try paper clips. binder clips, or any other clamping-type device, similar to what you'd use for sewing leather. Also, if you buy the really good silk pins that Susan Khalje sells, you'll also avoid this problem.
Posted: 8:26 am on June 1st

cajun1108 cajun1108 writes: Genius! And just in time for summer sheers and bridal garments. I plan to use this right away. Thanks for making your tutorials so clear! I have your "Cool Tricks" dvd, and I keep print-outs of every "KK" tip I come across.
Posted: 10:52 pm on May 31st

LindaLanglois LindaLanglois writes: I have used waxpaper on silk with great success. I also like the idea of tear-away interfacing. What do you use to avoid pin holes when they might be noticeable?
Posted: 3:39 pm on May 31st

KennethDKing KennethDKing writes: To torilynn,

Really the method for hemming the curve works on any fabric, not just lame. This excerpt happened to be from a longer piece on working with lame' fabrics, so the bonus information here was using the stencil cutter to cut the lame' so it doesn't fray. So the headline is really the point of the post, but sorry for any confusion I may have caused by not mentioning the lame' fabric in the headline!

To NinaLBoston: Yes, you can use the stencil cutter on any man-made fiber that is thermoplastic (nylon, acetate, polyester) but not on the cellulose-based fibers (rayon). It doesn't work on natural fibers, however.
Posted: 8:24 pm on May 30th

kaychan kaychan writes: As usual, brilliant.

Posted: 2:53 pm on May 30th

kaychan kaychan writes: As usual, brilliant.

Posted: 2:53 pm on May 30th

LaurieDiane LaurieDiane writes: Excellent, Can't wait to get home and try this. You have the most worthwhile tutorials.
Posted: 1:57 pm on May 30th

torilynn torilynn writes: This Headline did not match the article. The one and only error I have ever seen Threads make!
Posted: 1:38 pm on May 30th

NinaLBoston NinaLBoston writes: Thanks for the super-clear instructions. You mention that the hot knife will result in non-fraying seam allowances. Do you also get that benefit on fabrics other than lame, such as chiffon or organza?

Your techniques make my sewing more fun!
Posted: 1:13 pm on May 30th

arjee63 arjee63 writes: kershawgirl, there are a few things you could to to help alleviate this next time, depending on what would make sense for your project:

1) If it needs to be close-fitting, consider an underlining that can be cut slightly smaller and seamed with the lame; this puts the stress on the underlining fabric instead of the lame, and also supports the lame.

2) If the fabric is heat-safe, apply a flexible fusible interfacing such as French Fuse to the underside.

3) If an underlining or interfacing isn't appropriate, reinforce just at the seams with a fusible seam tape.

4) Use a longer stitch length.

5) Use a ball-point needle, such as what is used for knits.

I'm sure others will have more ideas, but those are my initial thoughts...
Posted: 12:52 pm on May 30th

kershawgirl kershawgirl writes: The problem that I found with lame, when sewing a Halloween costume, was that after only a few hours of wearing, the lame started to fall apart at the seams which had a little pressure on them from just minimal pulling. The costume would not have been able to be worn again, and I made it for a friend! I felt bad that I'd made it for her, and it was now in shreads. Any advice??

Posted: 9:51 am on May 30th

JennyEbner JennyEbner writes: Awesome. Being a court reporter, I have cases of steno paper left over from the days we used paper in our machines, now that we are computerized. So luckily I kept the paper, and that is what I use as backing on buttonholes or making a thread scallop on the edge of a garment. What a great idea to use it like you just did. Thanks. Jenny
Posted: 9:10 am on May 30th

knew knew writes: Thanks for this!! Very helpful! After making yards and yards of prarie points for my son' Native American dance regalia, I swore NEVER to sew with lame again. I will once again use lame! Thank you
Posted: 8:12 am on May 30th

KennethDKing KennethDKing writes: Also, Divaweava, lots of pins.
Posted: 8:01 am on May 30th

KennethDKing KennethDKing writes: To Divaweava:

You want to trim the paper to match the curve of the fabric, instead of trying to keep the edge of the fabric even with the edge of the tape. This way, you know that both edges are lined up exactly and correctly, and you can sew an even distance from the edge all the way.
Posted: 8:00 am on May 30th

divaweava divaweava writes: Kenneth, you make everything so clear and are a constant source of inspiration! I have trouble keeping the edge of the tape even with the fabric as I sew, especially when I can't see the fabric with the tape side up. Pins don't help. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Posted: 6:48 am on May 30th

decorchick decorchick writes: I just finished a beautiful top with a shirt tail hem in a silky fabric. The whole garment was beautiful but my hem was a disappointment. Think I will go rework it using this technique. Oh, the places I will go!

Posted: 6:15 am on May 30th

RStaff49 RStaff49 writes: Thank you so much for a great article! I had never considered sewing on these fabrics. Now I am no longer afraid.
Posted: 11:41 pm on May 29th

SewcietyMaven SewcietyMaven writes: Loved it!

Posted: 11:20 pm on May 29th

KennethDKing KennethDKing writes: In regards to the stencil cutter--any kind will do, but I have worked with several models and prefer the one by Air nouveau. Just my preference. But it is indeed electric.

As for the foot, this is just the transparent sewing foot on my Bernina--nothing special. I find I use that as my standard foot on the machine now, because one can see through it.

And yes, it can control other fabrics--I use this sometimes on chiffons and other slippery fabrics.
Posted: 10:47 pm on May 29th

sewbeauty sewbeauty writes: Interesting! The foot shown during the edge stitching looks like a special kind. Is it the general foot or a special one? and where can I get that?
Posted: 9:56 pm on May 29th

KarenQuiltsTexas KarenQuiltsTexas writes: Great article... I can think of some other things this might work well with. maybe hard to control slinky's and such?There are some wonderful tear away and wash away stabilizers available today, I think i'd go for those instead of the register tape - but that's certainly resourceful!
Posted: 9:43 pm on May 29th

maddie964 maddie964 writes: I haven't worked with lame but thought this article was very interesting. Thanks for sharing!
Posted: 8:24 pm on May 29th

BettyLaRue BettyLaRue writes: The tool mentioned appears to me to be an electric stencil cutter. There are various models. Some have that curved tip, some do not. They are available at the usual on line markets.
Posted: 8:13 pm on May 29th

KennethDKing KennethDKing writes: The hot knife shown is from a place called Air Nouveau Marketing, in New Jersey. Their number is 732)223-7878. I bought this one through the web site:
Posted: 8:07 pm on May 29th

JoaniesJosh JoaniesJosh writes: What a great idea! Glad you thought of it. I will be trying this method very soon. The tutorial made it look so easy. Where can we purchase that hot knife? Thank you.
Posted: 7:30 pm on May 29th

Linda74Sews Linda74Sews writes: Where was this advise when I was rolling a hem on a linen ruffle. Great tip.
Posted: 7:11 pm on May 29th

jamama jamama writes: Brilliant!!
Posted: 7:02 pm on May 29th

jansquires jansquires writes: Another helpful, well written tip. Thanks for sharing!

Posted: 6:06 pm on May 29th

cerogersmom cerogersmom writes: Great, clear article. I could really use this tutorial. Thanks for making rolled hems less scary.
Posted: 5:50 pm on May 29th

Ansola Ansola writes: This technique would have been so helpful when I made veils for my belly dance costumes! I'm saving this! Who makes the hot knife shown?
Posted: 5:47 pm on May 29th

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