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How to sew a machine rolled hem


Today, we’re going to tackle one of the trickier hems you might want to sew – the machine-rolled hem.

I struggled with this hem for a long time. I consider it to be a little on the advanced side, because it requires careful handling of the garment while you sew. If you’re new to the technique, I recommend practicing a bit first, and sewing very slowly to start.

We’ll be sewing this hem using a rolled hem foot. There are many rolled hem feet out there. For my machine (a Bernina), there are several. I am using one that creates a 4mm finished hem (the #69, if you’re curious).

Be sure to use the correct needle when sewing this hem. Using a heavy needle with lightweight fabric and sewing close to the edge like this is a recipe for disaster. A heavy needle will push the fabric into the machine and cause it to be “eaten”. Believe me, I know.


When to use it

  • This hem is a great choice for lightweight fabrics. You can use it on slips, skirts, and pretty silk blouses.
  • It is often seen on blouses and shirts.
  • It’s a great choice for sheer fabrics, because the hem is less noticable than a wider one would be.
  • The rolled hem is perfect for curved hems like circle skirts because there is so little bulk. Remember the rule of thumb, the curvier the hem, the narrower it should be.

How to sew a rolled hem


1) Place the fabric under the presser foot, with the edge of the fabric aligned with the edge of the foot.


2) Stitch a few stitches.


3) Raise the presser foot. Without cutting the threads, lift the fabric and pull the thread to get some slack. Move the threads to the back.


4) Lower the presser foot again. Hold onto the excess thread. This will give you something to grasp as you position the fabric. Position the fabric around the curve of the foot. This curve turns the fabric edge under twice and holds it in place as you stitch. If you have trouble getting it in, try using the tip of your seam ripper to help guide the fabric into the crevice.


5) Stitch slowly. As you stitch, make sure the edge of the fabric remains turned under the curve of the foot. This can be tricky and requires some practice. Hold the fabric slightly taut, and position it slightly to the left so that it continues to curl under as you stitch.

That’s it! You now have a tidy little hem, all stitched by machine.

Don’t be too frustrated if you don’t get this at first. It really comes down to handling in this case, and mostly you will just need practice to figure out the position that works best for you with your machine and presser foot.


Any other tips or experiences you have to share?


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.



September 17, 2014 #

Hi, thanks for posting this!
Can you give any advice on what to do when you’ve circled around the hem and are now back to where you started, please. I find this usually ends not so well. Usually the hem is last after a day of hanging, no ? Should I hem and then sew the side seams to make this work more smoothly?


September 17, 2014 #

This is tricky. I often stop short, leaving a small gap, and finish this tiny bit of stitching by hand. Or switch to a different foot and machine stitch the gap closed, since the beginning of the hem helps roll the hem under.


September 18, 2014 #

Thanks so much!

Tabatha Tweedie

September 17, 2014 #

I used a machine rolled hem the other day on a lightweight satin slip with French seamed side seams. The hemming was fine until I reached the side seams and at that point the bulk created by the French seam meant that the satin wouldn’t curl around the foot and feed through. So please tell me: what do you do when you come to a seam?


September 17, 2014 #

I usually take the fabric that is rolled into the foot , out of the foot and manually roll the last bit or bit that is on the seam whilst machine stitching continuously. Clipping the bulk out of the way is important too!


September 22, 2014 #

I find that it helps to cut a bit off the corner of the extra bulk so that to doesn’t try to stick out when you feed it through. Then feed it through slowly and pay extra attention to the bit that comes right after it, thats usually where it gets messy for me.


September 17, 2014 #

Hi, thanks for the tutorial! I have the same question about what to do once you have sewn all round the hem….It never looks tidy when I try to hem the last bit and reach the starting point…. In my frustration I have been using a three step machine rolled hem which works fine but is not quite as narrow.

Jet Set Sewing

September 17, 2014 #

Hi Sarai,
Have you tried this with knits? I’ve been looking at some vintage Claire McCardell jersey dresses I have in my collection, and the seam allowances are basically finished with a turned-under hem. I was thinking of giving it a try with a rolled-hem foot.


September 17, 2014 #

I have not! I’d be interested in how that goes.


September 17, 2014 #

maybe stay stitch it first?


September 17, 2014 #

I have used the two step technique, which doesn’t require a rolled hem foot. First you sew a line of stitching a scant 1/4″ away from the hem edge (inside the hem allowance). Press the hem up, very close to the stitching, with the stitching toward the wrong side. Trim the hem allowance right next to the stitching. Turn the hem up (now the stitching is on the inside with the cut edge enclosed in the rolled hem) and stitch again.

lisa g

September 17, 2014 #

i love using the rolled hem foot! it makes those tiny hems so easy. i do find that seams are difficult to navigate, so i usually run a line of stitching across all the SA’s to hold it in place. it doesn’t always keep the fabric from popping out, but it does increase the odds of success!

Leah Boyan

September 17, 2014 #

This helpful process for a rolled hem is made easier by using a bit of spray starch on the hem. The fabric will then be stiff enough and to easily roll through the foot. Typically when I work with slippery fabrics I give them a starch bath (made by adding a few tablespoons of corn starch to a couple of cups of hot water, mix and add cool water). After soaking the material in the starch bath for a few minutes I carefully roll it in towels to dry a little then iron with a warm iron. The fabric will be stiff and really easy to work with. When finished rinse the garment in warm water or dry clean.

sj kurtz

September 17, 2014 #

These are all good tips; this is the hem I would love to master.

I spend a couple hours every so often trying to make this work, and spend another few hours cursing the sewing gods. And then I hand sew the hem.


September 17, 2014 #

I am SO with you!!


September 17, 2014 #

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September 17, 2014 #

You’re not kidding when you say it takes practice to get it right!!! I love this foot, when I can get it to work; not only do I use it for hems but also neckline and edge finishing on entire garments when using lightweight silks/voile etc. My problem is keeping it rolled under; there are places it comes unrolled somehow (and I don’t see it until I look at it afterwards) and instead of being turned under and then under again, it only ends up turned under once, exposing the raw edge. Bummer when you’re trying so hard to get it right and this happens! :)

I also find (like others have mentioned) when doing a hem, hemming the last bit before the starting point can be tricky. I have found so far, the only way to do this properly is to stop a little bit away and then turn the last bit under by hand and sew. If you know of another way though I’d be very interested to hear it! :)


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September 17, 2014 #

I have to try this method. Out of frustration, I gave up trying to use this foot years ago and settled on using my serger for rolled hems. Thanks for the tutorial.


September 18, 2014 #

Very informative post! Thank you for sharing! Now I know how to hem hem using rolled hem foot.

Sincerely, Stacy


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