How to: Rolled Hems

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Lightweight fabrics used to make tablecloths, fabric napkins or lightweight curtains often have rolled hems, which reduce the bulk of the finished hem. A rolled hem is a narrow hem sewers make using a sewing machine with a standard foot or by attaching a rolled hem foot. You can also make a rolled hem if you have a serger. Sergers use thread to create a rolled hem, unlike a rolled hem on a regular sewing machine, which sews the enclosed, or rolled, raw edge of the fabric used to make the item.

Things You'll Need

  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Sewing machine
  • Rolled hem foot (optional)
  • Serger (optional)
  • Rolled hem plate (optional)
  • Transparent fabric glue

Rolled Hem Foot Attachment

  • Attach the rolled hem foot attachment.

  • Set up the ironing board and turn on the iron. Place the edge of the fabric you want to hem on the ironing board with the wrong side facing up. Pick up the edge of the fabric and fold it over an 1/8 inch, ironing it down as you go. You only need to iron the first 4 to 6 inches of fabric for each side.

  • Position the bulk of your fabric to the left of the hemming foot. Place the end of the pressed hem under the rolled hem foot and gently pull the folded edge of the fabric through the curved area of the foot. Start sewing the hem and backstitch a few stitches. Sewing machines have a reverse action and backstitching ensures that the stitches will not come out. Be certain that the hemming foot is making a closed hem. Go slowly to get even stitches and a consistently rolled hem, guiding the fabric with your hands so that the foot has enough fabric to make the folded hem. When you reach the end of the side of fabric you are sewing, backstitch it. Do not trim the threads until the item is completely finished.

  • Place the next edge of the item you are hemming beneath the hemming foot, backstitching a few stitches. It may take a little more effort to start hemming at a finished corner, since you will have more layers of fabric to take through the hemming foot. You can place the untrimmed threads from the seamed hem behind the hemming foot and use those to pull the ends of the fabric into the hemmer. Slowly feed the rest of the side through the foot, backstitching the ends. Repeat this step until all the edges are hemmed.

Without Rolled Hem Foot Attachment

  • Set up an ironing board and turn the iron on. Place the fabric on the ironing board and fold over 1/8 inch to create the first hem. Iron it down as you go. After ironing the edges you need to hem, fold the edge over the first hem. Iron the entire hem again.

  • Place the end of the fabric under the presser foot with the needle positioned close to the top edge of the hem. Sew the beginning edge down and backstitch for a few stitches to secure the stitching at the end of the hem by using your machine's reverse function.

  • After you finish the end of the hem, backstitch over the end to secure the hem. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for each side of the object you are hemming.

Serging

  • Remove the standard plate on your serger and move the threads or chain to the right side. Take out the left needle and snip the thread so it doesn't get in the way when you create the rolled hem.

  • Screw on the rolled hem plate and change the stitch width and length according to your serger instruction manual.

  • Press on the foot pedal to start the chain. It may take a few seconds for the chain to build on the rolled footplate. Once you see it forming, take a spare fabric swatch and run it through the serger, checking that the loops are even.

  • Place the fabric edge under the serger's presser foot and start the rolled hem by pressing on the foot pedal. It takes longer for the serger to create a rolled hem than routine stitches.

  • Use transparent fabric glue to secure the ends of the rolled hem by placing a drop or two at the corner of each edge. Sergers do not have a reverse stitching function. Some sewers thread the end of the chain through a normal serged seam, but rolled hems are too narrow and tight to bring any threads through to secure the ends.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use colorful thread for your serged rolled hem to add a decorative touch.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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