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Tutorial: How to create a hand rolled hem

hand rolled hem

Hand rolled hems are so lovely, and with a little practice and a few tricks, quite easy to do (if a bit time consuming).

hand rolled hem

Begin by machine stitching 1/4″ from the edge along the entire edge.

press flat

Press the stitching flat.

hand sewing needle

Thread a hand sewing needle with matching thread. For a delicate fabric such as this silk charmeuse, use a small needle with a narrow eye to minimize the visibility of holes in your fabric.

weigh it down

Now find something you can use as a weight. This is so you can pull the fabric taut as you sew. I’ve read one recommendation to use a fabric-covered brick, but this craft supply caddy worked just as well. Books would also be fine.

trim as you go

Trim close to the stitching as you go, trimming about six inches at a time. Trimming only a bit at a time will minimize raveling.

Try to get very close to the stitches.

roll and slipstitch

Anchor your thread at the edge of the fabric by creating a few backstitches there.

Pulling the fabric taut, hold the fabric edge between your thumb and forefinger, and roll toward you. Roll it until the machine stitching is hidden within the roll.

Use a slipstitch to stitch the hem. To do this, bring the needle out through the folded hem. Now create a tiny stitch between the folded edge and the garment fabric, catching only a few threads of the garment. Slip the needle through the fold for 1/4″ and back out, as shown in the above photo. Alternate the tiny stitch with the 1/4″.


Continue until edges are completely hemmed.

Do not press this seam flat when you’re done. You want it to have a nice soft roll to it.

Sarai Mitnick


Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.



November 13, 2008 #

YAY you!!! I can’t wait to see your patterns! If they reflect any of your personal style I’ve been reading and drolling over on your other blog then I’m sure you’ll do FANTASTIC!!!


LOVE the scarf color!


November 14, 2008 #

there is also a special sewing machine foot that will allow you to machine stitch a rolled hem — using a regular sewing machine.

they are super handy for the lazy peeps like me. here’s a tutorial:


November 14, 2008 #

yep, those feet are definitely handy and do a nice narrow hem. It’s just a different look from a hand rolled hem. :)

Carol in Denver

November 27, 2008 #

I can’t wait to see your new pattern line — so exciting!

Re the rolled hem, I have much better results keeping the edge being hemmed under tension — it creates a nice, straight rolled hem. I put an edge under my sewing machine needle & lower the presser foot. (Together they act as a third hand.) Then, pull the edge taut and sew, by hand, while the edge is taut, sewing away from the needle. As the sewn edge gets longer, re-position the needle/presser foot to keep about a 12″-18″ area being hemmed. I hope this isn’t too confusing! In your photo above, for a right-handed person, I’d have the right-hand edge secured under the needle & presser foot, then hold the edge taut with my left hand as I sewed with my right hand.

laura poulette

January 9, 2009 #

Thanks for the tutorial. I think the tension created with the weight on the fabric is what has been missing from my hem rolling success. I haven’t tried basting the raw edge with the machine either. Do you have any suggestions for how to turn the corners neatly?


February 1, 2013 #

its nice

Ian MacNeil

January 13, 2009 #

MKLEE notes that there is a sewing machine foot that allows one to make a machine stitched rolled hem. Is there any machine that can create that beautiful hand-rolled look? Is that a serger? I am designing a line of pocket squares and I would like to know the best way to get that look of the hand-stitched roll.


January 14, 2009 #

Ian, I don’t know of a way to get a hand-rolled look without doing it by hand. My serger does a rolled hem, but it definitely does not look hand-rolled. Sorry I can’t b more help there.

Ian MacNeil

January 14, 2009 #

Sarai – Thanks for your comments. I am going to have to find a band of seamstresses that can help me with my new project. They are going to have to be hand sewn. I put a couple together last night and I won’t be able to do it alone :)


January 19, 2009 #

I’ve found one of the first things to go on many silk scarves is a small section of the rolled edge.

Any hints on how to pick up from the existing good and work through the unrolled part to where it’s good again?


May 28, 2013 #

Melanie, You are so right about the hem being the first part to fail on a silk scarf!

The procedure for repairing this is actually an adaptation of this procedure. If you cannot fit the scarf on a machine to make the straight stitching, you can do it just as well (perhaps better) by hand.

I recommend using a thin hand sewing needle (higher numbers are the thinner needles) and the finest thread you can find. Your beginning point for the hem roll should be secured inside the part that will “roll”, so that the tiny knot will not be visible.

Start at the part that is still good, make your stitching line, trim off the frayed section a few inches at a time and work toward the corner using the instructions in this tutorial. Be sure to pull the thread just enough to make the fabric roll, but not enough to make it pucker or gather. This will result in a very slight taper toward the corner which, when worn, will not be noticeable. And you’ll have your pretty scarf again!


March 11, 2009 #

This is a fantastic tutorial and I’m going to try it tonight! I think I’ll get some silk blend fabric to practice on first though. =)


July 14, 2009 #

Thank you so much for the wonderful instructions, Sarai! I picked up the most gorgeous silk crepe yesterday when I was buying fabric for my Parfait dress, and this morning I made a flowing top from it with hems and neckline hand rolled. And I have enough left over to make a couple of scarves!


August 15, 2009 #

This tutorial was very helpful. I am a year 12 student doing my HSC this year and one of my subjects is Textiles! I love websites like these – creative, yet simple and informative.


October 4, 2010 #

Thank you Carol. Very helpful. My machine is not in a brightly lit place so, I pinned it to my jeans which worked very well also.


April 20, 2011 #

i am just trying this out on my first ever refashion project (and 5th ever sewing project) – I’m taking a big ugly blouse apart and fiddling with it to make something new – am using the rolled hem technique on the shortened sleeves, which I think will be cute… i don’t know what I’m doing but I’m having fun learning. Thank you for this tutorial!

Caitlin Betsy Bell

May 17, 2011 #

This tutorial was so helpful–thank you so much! I was commissioned to make 10 pocket squares with hand rolled hems and this is just what I needed to know!

britt toulon

October 13, 2011 #

hi, im looking for someone that can hand roll silk scarves in USA?
have an address?

Ariane Folliot

October 8, 2013 #

I can handroll hem. i understand you are looking for people in the US?

cailyn mcgregor

November 8, 2011 #

great information. i just found your site, and i’m sure i’ll be back often for your tutorials. any chance you would do one on a machine rolled hem?

i linked to your site from my blog, hope that’s ok :o)


December 3, 2011 #

People interested in hand rolling hems will likely enjoy this video of a Hermes scarf having its hems finished:


January 15, 2012 #

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Rachel Collinson

May 14, 2012 #

Remove the visible thread tracing, but do not press the hem flat. It should remain a soft roll. A hand-rolled hem is a lovely soft finish for a scarf edge. If done nicely, wear the scarf with a little bit of jewellery to accessorize yourself, and you will look neat and perfect!


May 21, 2012 #

Thank you for this tutorial! I’d never done a hand-rolled hem before and although I think I might have a foot for it for my sewing machine I was in the mood for some hand-sewing and am very happy with the results.

Christopher West

July 2, 2012 #


I wonder if you can help. I’m desperately in search of someone who could hand roll hem 30 silk pocket squares – approx 32 x 32cm. Can you help? I’d be eternally grateful. If so please email me on

Thanks so much,



July 23, 2012 #

Does this method work as well on a circle skirt as on a straight or relatively straight line?

Ken Newman

October 1, 2012 #

Can you hand roll 50 scarves and cost per scarf and time needed.


October 7, 2013 #

Hi, I have started a line of scarves and need people who can help me with the rolled hem – by hand-
Please respond if interested. Thanks a lot! Dom

Janet Campbell

December 14, 2013 #

Thank you for the hand rolled hem instructions. My current project calls for a hand rolled hem on the bias. Actually, I have recut a large rectangular silk/wool shawl into a half circle. I have retained the rolled hem in the straight side. Now I’ve got to figure out how to do a nice even, non-bunchy hand rolled hem all along the curved edge. This seems like it would be very different from sewing a hand rolled hem along a straight edge (with the grain or perpendicular to the grain) Maybe pinning and basting would be the best way to go? I’d be thankful for any advice.

Janet Campbell

January 9, 2014 #

I’ve recently finished my half circle shawl with a hand rolled hem and am very pleased with the results. I basically followed Sarai’s instructions. I machine stitches 1/4″ from the edge. then, working on only 6 – 8″ at a time, I cut off the fabric very close to the machine stitching and basted that fold onto place; then I folded over once more and basted. This process was really much easier than it may appear. Because of the curve of the circle, the small sections of hem, just fell into place. No pins needed. Working with only a few inches at a time, the fabric didn’t have a chance to fray, and the hem did not flatten.
Learning to do hand rolled hems has opened up new possibilities for me. Hemming on either the grain or on the curve of a circle is probably a lot easier than working on a bias.
Thia circle hemming may be useful Margaretta and her circular skirt.


May 16, 2014 #

I was wondering what the function of the machine stitchingis. Is it like staystitching, or is it to help you to sew the hem evenly?


May 16, 2014 #

It both keeps the hem straight and provides a nice stable edge that the fabric can roll towards.


June 13, 2014 #

This tutorial was included in a recent costume tutorial on my website (

Thank you for sharing this helpful advice with the internet at large! ~ Space_wolf