Sewing Blog

Flawless Finish: How to Use a Rolled Hem Presser Foot

How do you, the home sewer, achieve that perfect rolled hem? With a rolled hem presser foot! Read on, and I’ll show you how to create ready-to-wear-worthy hems on your home sewing machine using a presser foot!

A Rolled Hem

A narrow rolled hem that is even and smooth is a sure sign of a well-made project. For the home sewer, however, achieving that standard can sometimes be a challenge. Especially when working with lightweight and delicate fabrics that are not only difficult to handle but also tend to shift about and fray excessively.

There are a variety of techniques and numerous tutorials on how to sew narrow rolled hems using a conventional presser feet, but they all require a good eye, a super steady hand and precise measuring to turn and produce a hem that looks professional done.

Presser Foot

A simple alternative is to use a rolled hem presser foot. This widely available device comes in a variety of sizes that produce varying hem widths. While they can be used for any type of fabric they are a good choice for hemming sheer and very lightweight fabrics such as chiffons and charmeuse as they produce a very fine and elegant finish to any garment. Many of today’s most stylish tops and scarves sport these types of hems.

The simple fact is the rolled hem presser foot produces beautiful, narrow hems that are nearly impossible to do as well without one. It is important to note however, they work best on straight hems. So, for scarves, this is the way to go for finishing the edges. For curved hems, which are cut on both the bias and straight of grain like ruffles, feeding the fabric on the straight portions requires greater finesse and can be a bit more challenging.

Nevertheless, using the presser foot is relatively easy. The key is getting the fabric to feed correctly into the foot at the start. With some careful attention to stabilizing the first couple of inches of the hem, and maintaining a steady hand at folding and guiding the fabric into the foot evenly as you sew will ensure a beautiful hem.

Here are the steps to properly using a rolled hem presser foot:

Fold the hem over

Step 1:

Begin by preparing the first couple of inches of the hem edge. Since this type of hem is typically used on very lightweight fabrics which are difficult to handle, stabilizing the first inch or so with some fusible interfacing will help the edge feed into the foot more easily. To do this cut a narrow strip of very lightweight or sheerweight fusible interfacing that is anywhere from 1/16” to ⅛” wide (depending on how narrow a hem you want) by 1-2” long . Fuse the strip to the edge of the fabric.

 fold the hem over by the width of the interfacing strip

Step 2:

Now fold the hem over by the width of the interfacing strip. Fold over again another equal width and pin in place. Pin the first inch to 2 inches of the hem in place in this way.

Place tissue paper under the presser foot

Step 3:

Place a small strip of tissue paper under the presser foot. This will prevent the lightweight fabric from sinking into the throat place when you begin to sew. Now place the pinned hem over the tissue paper and carefully line up the folded outer edge of the rolled hem to the inner edge of the presser foot’s right leg. While gently pulling the thread tails away from the machine, slowly stitch 2-3 stitches into the hem to secure it in place.

Sewing a rolled hem with a presser foot

Step 4:

Remove the first pin and with the needle inserted into the fabric, raise the presser foot. Remove the second pin and begin to feed the folded hem into the curled portion of the presser foot.

Slowly stitch the hem

Step 5:

While gently pulling the narrowly folded hem edge towards you, slowly stitch the hem in place, keeping the fold positioned over the curled portion of the presser foot. With your hands continue to fold down the edge of the fabric 1/16” to ⅛” as you sew feeding the folded edge into the curled guide as evenly as possible. When done, simply tear away the tissue paper, and press.

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31 Comments

Deb Watson

How do you go over a seam?

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Deb Watson

How do you go over a seam?

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Joan Old

At the end of Step 4 do you lower the presser foot before starting Step 5, or do you stitch with the presser foot up?

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jill

I think the presser foot is raised to allow the first attempt at feeding the fabric through the folder. Then lower the presser foot and sew. Can’t sew with the presser foot up.

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Linda Reynolds

You are correct. thanks for the correction.

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Joan Old

At the end of Step 4 do you lower the presser foot before starting Step 5, or do you stitch with the presser foot up?

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PJ

I have also found that with some difficult or slippery fabrics if you press the first fold before you start to sew it feeds into the foot easier and prevents distortion. I also press all seams in one direction and use a clapper to reduce the bulk. This little step has saved me a lot of ripping out or starting over. I use my narrow hem foot for miles and miles of ruffle and hems on twirly skirts for my granddaughters.

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Linda Reynolds

Good advice. Thanks

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joeaker

Seems to be good and quite helpful to the like of me having go at this
Sewing hobby, yes helpful and I will keep an eye on it.
Cheers

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Linda Reynolds

Thank you.

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kal

How are corners handled to create a professional mitered corner?

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Linda Reynolds

Corners are indeed tough. Mitering these type of hems is difficult if not impossible – at least for me. Others may differ. My best advice is to seal the raw edge of one side with Fray check. Then complete the other side and seal as well.

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Jeanie

How do you go over seams? I have no problems using this foot at all, except when I hit seams, then the foot can’t fit the double layer and/or the fabric gets caught.

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Bill

Same issue as Jeannie. I just got this type of foot and have practiced a couple times with test fabric. I want to shorten the hem on store bought shirts and I’m worried about how to get around the side seams and what to do when getting to the front plackets.

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Linda Reynolds

These are tough indeed. First make sure the seam is opened. Then trim the seam allowances as best you can. Go slow and use your fingers to keep the curl of the fabric correct and moves through the presser foot correctly.

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Marie Cunningham

Going to try the sewing of invisible zipper and the hemming. Thanks

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Linda Reynolds

Thanks for reading my posts. Let me know if you encounter problems.

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Linda Reynolds

You are welcome. Glad you found these posts helpful. Thanks for reading them.

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Sandie Spears

I have always been terrified of doing rolled hem. Just finished my second one using this helpful lesson. Thank you so much even my first one turned out ok.

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Linda Reynolds

Practice make perfect with rolled hems. The more you do them the better and easier they get. Glad this was helpful.

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Donna G

If you’re sewing a rolled hem all around a circle – how do you finish it off when you reach the place where you started? Thanks for the video.

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Georgia

Even though I’m going slow and being careful, I can’t keep the seam straight. The stitching keeps going off the edge and missing the hem. Also, I can see some variation in the thickness of the hem. Do you have any tips for staying straight?

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Lisa

My needle is sewing very close to the edge and is not catching the looped part

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Ann

I cannot get the fabric in the foot. I am walking away from the project to find some wine.

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Deidra

Oh Ann, how I absolutely loved your comment! I need to drink the entire bottle of wine trying to figure this hem foot out. I have tried many times and end up so frustrated.

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Juliayn Coleman

I recently discovered in my grandma’s sewing basket a rolled-hem foot like this. I started out practicing by making handkerchiefs out of some cool printed cotton fabric I had laying around. I made about 3 or 4 before I got the hang of going around corners. It is still difficult at times. I had to really focus on feeding precisely the same amount of material into the rolled foot, or the needle would miss, or the hem would be too bulky. Also, keeping the speed of the machine constant is very important.
One other thing I noticed was my regular needle setting for the regular presser foot was not working–I had to move the needle slightly to the right in order to ensure the stitching was going through the center of the hem. But now I have moved on to hemming the edges of blouses and some sleeves this way, and it is a very fast way to make a hem on a casual garment! If I am going across a seam, though, I skip that area with the special foot. I tried several times with no success, just a tangle. But it is good enough for me to hem most of the garment with the special foot, then go back and do the seam areas with a regular foot.
Try making a few handkerchiefs but be warned, you might get hooked!

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Tammy Hanley

Finally a tutorial I could get right! Beautiful seams/hems for my grandson’s curtains!

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Jean

The interfacing really helped. A half way decent rolled hem on my flimsy silk top. Thank you.

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