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narrow rolled hem on chiffon

[email protected] | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I have some beautiful silks that I want to start sewing so I (fortunately) decided to start with a simple wrap skirt just to practice before I got to projects that required more fitting. I plan to make a couple of blouses and I have a dress that I am hoping to have done by spring. I’ve solved all the problems up to this one through research and ingenuity but this has me flustered …. What do you use to stabilize silk chiffon so it can be successfully hemmed? I want to use a narrow 3 thread rolled edge but I can’t keep the fabric under the needle and I’m ending up with cords not a hemmed skirt. It is a circular skirt so much of it is on the bias as well as slippery and I really don’t want to do the hem by hand, it simply isn’t worth it for a 14 year old that will wear it out in a year…and love every minute of it.


  1. MaryinColorado | | #1

    On a scrap, try water soluble stabilizer (Wet N Gone, Sulky Solvy, etc)  It will be in the machine embroidery stabilizers area at a fabric store or sewing machine dealer.  It tears away gently and easily as it is kind of like saran wrap. It can also be rinsed away if the fabric is washable.  I cut a strip and start to sew on the stabilizer, then wrap it around the hem and it works great!  Good luck and enjoy!  Mary

  2. sewelegant | | #2

    (This is what I saw <!----><!----><!----><!---->Susan<!----> <!---->Kahlje<!----><!----> doing with a narrow hem on silky fabric) so I copied the technique to my files and have tried it on polyester chiffon with excellent results.

    The following is an excerpt from the old, now defunct, Timmel fabric site owned by Julie Culshaw in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

    <!----><!----> <!----><!----> <!----><!----> <!---->

    from <!----><!---->Julie<!----> <!---->Culshaw<!----><!----> of Timmel Fabrics (she got it from a Threads article)

    <!----> <!---->

    Stitch along the edge of your hem, 1/4" from the raw edge. Then press that to the inside, right along the stitching line. Stitch again, very close to the fold. You will now have two lines of stitching visible on the inside. Trim the extra fabric away, very close to your last line of stitching. Now press that again to the inside. This time, your fold (which is now your hem) is a mere 1/8 to 1/4" wide. Very tiny, very neat. Stitch again near the fold through all thicknesses (there will be 3). What makes this technique work is that your first two lines of stitching serve to stabilize the fabric, so that you can actually fold over the smallest hem and stitch. If you simply tried to press the fabric over twice and stitch it, you would have no control of the fabric. It wouldn't press well and you wouldn't be able to stitch it well either. This is a lovely technique.

    1. [email protected] | | #3

      Thank you for this idea, I will try it if the stabilizer doesn't work with my serger.

    2. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #4

      Sewelegant, thank you for posting these very clear instructions. This is the method I have used for years. It makes a very fine stable hem and is easy to do. Just make sure that the needle you are using is not too big as well. If you have a single needle throatplate for your machine, it makes it easier as well. Cathy

      1. sewelegant | | #5

        Yes, I did want to add use a fine needle and fine thread too, if possible.  You want the needle to slide through the fabric like butter.  I haven't done it, but this would be great for a silkie scarf, I'll have to try it.

    3. lynnewill | | #11

      I have found this technique has always worked well for me I would just add that I use a very small stitch length say at 1.5 - 2, along with a sharp #8 needle, and the single hole plate.  I do not press in between but finger press as I sew. 

      1. sewelegant | | #12

        I would like to add that when I do this I mark the hemline with a chalk marker (or any marker, but chalk works best for me because I can brush it off before pressing) and do not cut off the excess fabric (that is only 1-2 inches) until I have sewn the second time.  Just after that first stitching is when I turn the hem up and press, making it easy to stitch the second tiime.  Then I cut the excess fabric off and do not press here either, just turn the edge over again and do the final stitching.  I haven't had the edge to get caught in the throat plate, but I too use a fine needle and about a 2 1/2 inch length.

  3. sewornate | | #6

    My favorite narrow hem technique is as follows:  Fold the hem about 1/4 inch longer than the desired finished length.  Press.  Stitch fairly close to the fold, (through two layers, which stabilizes the edge.  Then with fine sheers (I like the ones that have a wide duck-bill at the end by Gingher).  Cut the excess fabric from the hem close to the stitching.  Then turn the hem again and stitch close to the hem fold.  Press.  This hem has two rows of stitching around it and a very narrow fine finish.  Only one row of stitching shows from the right side.  Time wise, you will spend less time doing this hem then you will serging because of the time you spend finding what works on chiffon fabric that won't separate.  If you prefer to use a serger,  then using strips of  a wash-away stabilizer is a good choice.  Serging around a circle can cause problems on the bias edges stretching so a stabilizer is needed.

    1. [email protected] | | #7

      I want to thank everyone that responded. You are all so helpful. In the end I used a method recommended by Marta Alto (Palmer Pletch teacher whom I've taken classes from). They have a liquid stabilizer but I just liquified Sulky Solvy, dabbed it on the last 1/4 inch of fabric and let it dry. Then I was able to do a perfect narrow rolled edge with my serger. My daughter is delighted. I will need to do some experimentation before I use it on my own garments to make sure it washes out properly but I have CONTROL.

      1. Josefly | | #8

        Thank you for coming back to tell us what worked for you.

      2. NansiSews | | #9

        I've been sewing bridal and prom for over 20 years and I LOVE learning all the time.  I also teach sewing so that makes it even better.  I have done the method described by sewornate most of the time, especially with sheers.  the ones that have given me the most headaches are the silk chiffons.  After reading all the suggestions, I'm thinking the Timmel technique or the one you ultimately used with the liquified Solvy would be a BIG help with them because they DO seem to stretch out of line easily.  My question is:  do you wsh out the Solvy as usual when finished hemming? I'd be concerned with water mark or line being left behind on the silk chiffon.  As these are usually jobs from clients, I can't get involved in cleaning the whole gown.  That's why the Timmel method appeals to me.  Any experiences out there, girls?  Thanks, as always.

        1. [email protected] | | #10

          Yes there was a mark left on my daughters skirt but knowing that it will be hand washed anyway, and it is a print I was interested in speed more than safety. I will be experimenting more before I use it on my own clothes. That said Marta actually suggested "Perfect Sew" diluted by 1/2 applied to the very edge using a q-tip. I will be getting it before I start my own projects.

  4. User avater
    agapantha | | #13

    You didn't ask, but this tip does go with chiffon cut on the bias territory: be sure to let the skirt hang for a while before you hem it to make sure it has done all the sagging it is going to do.  I used to make a lot of dance costumes and nothing is so irritating as hemming a circle skirt only to have it stretch on the bias after half a dozen wearings.  I usually let my very full skirts hand a couple of weeks with intermittent shakings to help the sag along.

    Edited 1/27/2009 11:45 pm ET by agapantha

  5. alotofstitches | | #14

    Sewelegant has the right idea--I use the that technique to hem all sheers and thin fabrics.  The look is very professional.

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