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Rolled hem

kayrosie | Posted in General Discussion on

Okay I am going to be using a rolled hem alot.  I tried on one skirt last night and it was okay but not perfect and I am looking for that.  Does anyone have some tips as how they do it.   I do have serger but have never done it on there. I need to practice practice practice.



  1. User avater
    Becky-book | | #1

    Dear One,

    Do you mean rolled hem on a regular sewing machine or on a serger? I have done both and some fabrics work better on one than the other.

    Reg. machine....  one 'trick' is to watch the 'throat' of the foot to make sure the cloth fills it, but not too much or you get 'sprouts'. How you hold the edge of the cloth seems to be the key; sort of pre-folded once over a finger, hard to explain, but not hard to do.   Also, when the edge of the cloth changes from on-grain to slightly bias watch out!, because now the edge is a little stretchy and won't want to fold up as nicely as it does on straight-grain.

    Remember- if these dresses are long (floor length or nearly) no one is going to look that closely at your stitches! Don't kill yourself trying for perfection!!

    Since you have lots to do, the serger might be a better way to go since it will trim for you as well as stitch.  Practice on scrap cloth (left-over from dress construction), cut the same as the hem (curved, bias or whatever), do all hems for the wedding party the same, minor differences will show up in the photos!

    Hope this helps,


    1. kayrosie | | #2

      Have you ever just used a real little zig zag stitch and used that as the hem.  I was wondering about that.  I am thinking that might work. 

      I thought I had answered this but it does not show my reply to you.I do have a serger and I got the book out last night and read about it. I might have to try it.  I have never tried to do it on the serger.  It didn't sound to hard.

      I used horse hair on some dresses I made for wedding some years ago.  I forgot all about it. Thanks for jogging my memory. 

      I didn't get to practice last night might I am going to do it tonight.  A friend of mine said to turn it down once and sew and then turn it down again and sew.  Is that the way you understand to do it on a regular sewing machine.


      1. User avater
        Becky-book | | #3

        I have a special foot that does a rolled hem on a reg. machine.  It helps roll the edge of the cloth so you can sew a twice folded tiny hem all at one time.  If you don't have this foot, and want to do lots of hemming fast, I'd go with the serger.  My serger will do a 2 thread rolled hem with only a plate change and a minimum of fiddling with the tension!  Just be careful not to stretch the edge unless you want a 'lettuce' hem!

        Take a deep breath and say " I can do this!"


        1. kayrosie | | #4

          I just talked to the dealer, about getting a special foot for my sewing machine to do a rolled hem. I am thinking that is what I need to do.  I have an Elna so it should be fairly easy to get a foot. 

          I also asked about the serger too so I am thinking I will be getting a gathering part for it.  i should be in good shape if I get all these. Thanks. 

          1. MaryinColorado | | #5

            You don't need a special foot to do a rolled hem on the serger.  Set up your serger according to your manual for a rolled hem.  The plate should have a sharp looking part that the threads go over, much narrower than the one for regular serging.  On my serger it is just a setting and I don't change the plate.  Each serger is different, some will do a two or a  three thread rolled edge. 

            Wooly Nylon or wooly nylon extra do a great job wrapping around fabric.  I have used the regular Wooly nylon alot.  Also you could practice with different threads like Sulky or other Rayon machine embroidery thread which is finer and you would have to use a shorter stitch to get it to cover the fabric edge.

            Often it helps to either start with a scrap of fabric and then serge onto your good fabric, then snip off the scrap.  I don't do this but it works for some.  What I like to do is wrap a strip of water soluble stabilizer around the edge of delicate fabrics when I do a fine rolled hem.  This is more smooth and helps protect delicates.  Also helps with 'pokies" if necessary. 

            On a regular sewing machine, I have double folded fabric, pressed, and hemmed.  Some fabrics won't press well, then I have sometimes rolled it by hand and stitched a straight stitch with a very tiny needle in the machine.  Some folks like to use a double needle which now come in very narrow sizes. 

            Hope this helps.  My favorite is the serger rolled hem, it is beautiful and quick.

          2. kayrosie | | #6

            Yes I know you don't need a extra foot for the serger. I actually got confused. I need a different foot if I going to gather on the serger. I found out serger is not one that has the differetial feed. I am wanting a new serger that self threads and has the differential feed.  It will have to wait though.  To many other things first.  I think if I would play with the serger and change the throat plate and all I could do it but I guess I am afraid to try. I might actually attempt that this weekend if I have time. 

            I have done rolled hem on the sewing machine even without the right foot but I am sure it would be easier with the right foot and all.  I have called and order the right one.  Thanks for your advise.  


          3. dotty | | #7

            I have a serger, but for some things I think the sewing machine does a better job. I wanted a black edge around the collar and down the front edges of a shirt (like pipping). The only way I was able to get a nice point on the collar was with the sewing machine. I can't remember anymore if I sewed the collar on before or after the zig zagging. I do remember thinking I wouldn't try that again.

          4. mem | | #12

            you know I have one of those feet and I hate it . It is hard to use on seam lines and I am a reasonably good sewer and I have been sadely disappointed with it. I love the serged rolled hem and if you dont have a serger do it in the way that it used to be done which is as follows: Fold under a narrow hem stitch with a small stitch length close to the fold line themn press and trim very close to the stitching line . A pair of duckbill sissors is really useful for this You will now have a stitching line very close to  the edge and a raw edge just above it , fold again and stitch over the previous stitching line and press.

          5. kayrosie | | #14

            Wow I hope I like the new foot I am getting. I have done a rolled hem before like you mentioned but with all the dresses I am doing I really didn't want to have sew that many times. So I will be giving the new foot a try and see.


            Have you ever used a gathering foot. I have one and I have not had good luck. If any body uses one please explain how you use.   It is a mess as far as I can see.


          6. mem | | #15

            With the rolled hemmer try cutting the seams at and angle so that the bulk going through the roller is smaller and I have found using a zig zag better than straight . I still hate them though. As for gathering I got one but havent used it for many years . One thing is to use buttonhole or top stitch thread as your pulling up thread if you dont use the gathering foot.

          7. Ra | | #20

            I was interested to read you use a zig zag w/the rolled hem foot.  I had forgotten to mention that I move the needle over to the right a couple times to be sure I'm catching the hem. 

          8. ctirish | | #16

            I have both a rolled hem and gathering foot for my sewing machine. Both of them work well if you use them often.  The technique to use them seems for me to require a lot of practice but that is probably because I don't use them that often.  I also have a serger that does both rolled hems and gathering and I love it.  It is a Baby Lock so it is easy to thread and all I have to do is look up in the book what the settings need to be for a rolled hem of for gathering and in 20 minutes I am done.  here are the settings I use for each, with a serger it takes a little practice for me because the machine can go so fast.  I did all the rolled hems on shawls(5)  for a wedding with my serger in about 3 hours.

            These are the settings I use for gathering:

            Four Thread/GatheringStitch:Four Thread GatheringStitch Length:4Stitch Width:MDifferential Feed:2Tension:Balanced

            These are the setting I use for a rolled hem:

             Narrow Rolled HemStitch:Right Needle ThreadStitch Length:2-1/2Stitch Width:3.0Differential Feed:NTension:Tighten Lower Looper to 6-7

            These are for a babylock ellure but they give you a starting point. good luck.


          9. mem | | #17

            That ois really interesting. I hadnt hought about using a serger to gather before. Can you do it without a special foot ? I have a janome My lock which is about 10n years old . I do have differential feed.Is there a special setting for gathering as there is with rolled hemming??

          10. ctirish | | #18

            You don't need a special foot. The lighter weight  the fabric the easier it is to gather.  You need to use a four thread overlock stitch with a long stitch length, a medium to wide width and the differential feed set to 2.  Use two needles.  This  should gather the fabric  nicely - if you have problems try tightening the needle tension. Once you get it gathering well  write down the settings - and then you can try changing the settings to see how shortening the length or narrowing or widening the width will look like.  Good luck

            I have seen on a couple of shows people who hold the fabric in back of the second set of feed dogs. It somehow helps the gathering to stay even. I have never gotten this trick to work for me.   The special foot I have for my serger is so you can gather and attach at the same time. To be honest I haven't tried it since the evening I bought it. I am sure it works fine, but I could not get it to work easily initially so I put it away for the day I am  are snowed in for several days.

  2. mygaley | | #8

    Dear Kayrosie: after 40 plus years of sewing, I finally found in a magazine the narrow (rolled?) hem that satisfied me. Here are the directions. Mark hemline with pencil, pen or chalk. Turn up hem 1/4 inch below hem line and press well. Stitch with a medium stitch very close to edge. Be careful not to stretch on bias parts of hem; just let the fabric flow under your presser foot. Trim excess close to stitching. Now you have one stitched raw edge. Turn this edge up again, press well, and stitch again. This makes a beautiful hem on chiffon. With fabrics that don't crease well I use spray starch while pressing. One of the beauties about this method is a non-sewer can help with the pressing!

    This may help you in the future. A pattern instruction sheet called for chiffon seams to be sewn at 5/8" as usual, then restitched 1/8" toward the raw edge. Trim very close to last stitching. This makes a seam that does not ravel and looks very similar to a serged seam. I used the narrowest zigzag stitch when I did this. God bless you Galey

  3. fabricholic | | #9

    Hi Kayrosie,

    I have a rolled hem foot for my sewing machine. I think it is the neatest thing. You get the edge started by rolling it and you take a few stitches. The material fits in the little groove at the end of the place where you stitched. It kind of rolls itself. You just have to hold the material and watch it. It does take a little practice to get the hang of it. I think you will be glad you bought the foot.


    1. kayrosie | | #10

      I am pretty sure I will like the foot.  It looks easy to use.  Thanks for your advise.


      1. Ra | | #11

        I use the rolled hem foot a lot -- once you get good at it, it's really fast.  My machine, Janome, comes w/at least 2 different sizes -- the groove in the botton of the foot is the size of the amount turned under.  Threads quite a few years ago had a very good article on using the foot.

        About 20 years ago a McCall's pattern had a foolproof method of making a narrow hem.  Sew around the raw hem about 1/8" (or less), turn up and press on the stitchng line.  Sew the tiny hem down, turn up, press and topstitch.  While this is a lot of sewing, it worked wonderfully for a very narrow hem and you don't have to trim.


        1. kayrosie | | #13

          I have had several suggesstion, and I am going to try them all. But first I will try the new foot I am getting. I think I will like it.  Going to give it a try anyway.


          I have a new questions now.  Do you use a gathering foot. I have one and I am not happy with it at all. Unless I am not using it right.  Any ideas.


          1. Ra | | #19

            Sorry, I don't have one.  The Step-by-Step Guides by Chilton are a great refernce.  Mine for the New Home (now Janome) has detailed instructions for using the gathering foot.  I don't want to infringe on copyright laws, but,  paraphased, ti says to put the fabric to be gathered under the foot, drop the foot down and put the other  fabric in the slot.  If the stitching isn't straight, it suggests gathering the fabric first and then in a second step stitching it to the other fabric.  There's a lot about tension, lenghth of stitch and the weight fo the fabric for how tight the gathers are. 

            I hope this helps.

          2. kayrosie | | #21

            I finally found out that my gathering foot does not work that way. Oh darn.


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