Welcome to another edition of One Stitch, Two Ways. Today we will look at how to achieve those seemingly impossible small rolled hems, and how to do them in those seemingly impossible fabrics like silk and chiffon. By the end of this you should feel confident to tackle your rolled hems and consider them on your next project.
The two methods below are both suitable for slippery and transparent fabrics, but can also be used for any other dressmaking material. Remember that for any regular dressmaking materials you can also use a rolled hem foot on your sewing machine, which rolls under your fabric twice and stitches on top of the roll. It takes a little getting used to, to get the right angle, but that’s definitely an option if you are sewing cotton for example.
Both methods below are done with a regular sewing machine foot. If you are using really fine fabrics, remember to switch your needle to smaller size, use thinner threads and reduce your stitch length to 2/2.2. The closer your needle and thread is to the consistency of your material’s fibres, the better, which is a good rule of thumb.
We will demonstrate both methods on organza and in black thread, so you can see what we’re doing. You can make the measurements below a bit bigger if you want a bigger rolled hem. The measurements below produce a 0.25 cm rolled hem. The first method is our preferred one for the most difficult or thinnest of fabrics.
First Method: fold and sew once, fold and sew again.
- You will be folding up twice like a normal hem, so calculate how much seam allowance you would like to leave on your garment. If you want to make a really narrow hem, don’t cut your material yet: wait until the first stitch line.
- Fold your hem up once so that the folded edge is now 0.25 cm below your desired hem length. Stitch a normal stitch line close to the folded edge.
- Cut away the excess material so there’s really little left. If you had done this beforehand, it would have been much trickier to fold over!
- Now fold over again and stitch again on the very same stitch line you can now see from the inside of your garment. Hold it nice and taut when you sew. The first stitch line is the trick here: the stitching encourages the fabric to fold over exactly where you want it to. You don’t even have to pin it, just hold it taut with your fingers.
- From the inside of your garment you now have two stitch lines (although they should be neatly on top of each other so that you can’t see the difference) but on the outside there is only one. You can make the tiniest of rolled hems even on notorious fabrics like chiffon using this technique, because the fabric behaves when you do it like this.
Second Method: sew once, fold up twice, sew again.
- Calculate 0.5 cm below your desired finished length. Stitch a normal stitch line at that point and if you have any excess length below it, trim it off as close as you can.
- Now fold up once by 0.25 cm (you can carefully iron the first fold if you wish) and then fold up again by 0.25 cm. Your first stitch line has now ended up right in the fold of the finished hem. Again the stitch line encourages the fabric to fold over exactly where you want it.
- If you have a slippery or very thin, stubborn fabric, make sure to hold your hem very taut when you start sewing. You have to be in control! Stitch your hem as close to the edge as you can and admire your beautiful 0.25 cm rolled hem.
We hope you have learnt something new today and feel confident to try a rolled hem on your next project!