How to use a Rolled Hem Foot
I ordered a small amount of hand dyed silk to make scarf scrunchies from. I wanted to use the vibrant silk colors but did not want to spend a lot of money so I just bought a small amount. It occurred to me that I would need to use my rolled hem foot to get the look I wanted. Many of you have never worked with silk or used a rolled hem foot before. The purpose of the rolled hem foot is to get that small narrow hem that you see on silk and other sheer fabrics. It is best used on a straight hem. It can be used on slightly curved hems but you must take care. I decided to put together this tutorial on how to use a rolled hem foot so that you, too, could make those small narrow hems. I have also completed a tutorial on how to sew with silk that you can find here.
What is a Rolled Hem Foot?
As you can see, a rolled hem foot has a curved channel in the front. This channel actually double folds the raw edge before the needle stitches the hem. Most rolled hem feet come in a 1/8″ size but you can get them in 1/4″ or larger for a larger hem size. My machine did not come with one. Yours may or may not have. If not, you can purchase it separately or in a kit with other presser feet as I did. This post contains affiliate links that if you click on them and make a purchase I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Why do you need a rolled hem foot?
Anytime that you are sewing a hem with silk or a silk blend or a sheer fabric you will want to use a rolled hem foot. To get that nice neat and even narrow hem without one is very difficult so it is worth the purchase if you are going to be sewing a narrow hem on any type of fabric. Remember that there are nice synthetic fabrics that are difficult if not impossible to press a hem into and the rolled hem foot is perfect for these.
Before using your rolled hem foot
Choose your foot and change your machine settings
The first thing you should do is decide which size foot to use. I prefer the 1/8″ size and honestly have not found a need for the 1/4″ size but it is a personal preference so you can choose whichever size you like. I think the smaller hem size is better for sewing with silk and silk blends just as the smaller stitch size is best when sewing seams with silk. Remember to adjust your stitch length to 2.0 when sewing a rolled hem. You do not want the stitches to be too large for the size of the hem as they will look disproportionate.
Watch out for frayed fabric
Make sure that your edges are clean cut before you start stitching with a rolled hem foot. Frayed edges will get caught in the stitches and will stick out from the final hem. Silk, silk blends and a lot of synthetic fabrics fray easily and if you do not cut them immediately before sewing you will have difficulties using your rolled hem foot.
Steps in using your rolled hem foot
STEP 1: Hand start the rolled hem
Start your hem by pressing either with an iron or finger pressing the beginning of the rolled hem. To do this, fold the hem over by 1/8″ and then 1/8″ again and pin. You will want to start the hem by 3″-4″.
STEP 2: Keep a long thread tail
Start by making sure that you have a long thread tail. lower the presser foot remove the pin. Stitch 4-5 stitches while holding the long tailed threads with your left hand. If you do not hold the threads in the back you run the risk of your fabric being sucked under the feed dogs.
STEP 3: STITCH THE HEM
After your 4 – 5 stitches, stop stitching with the needle down in the fabric. You are going to reposition the fabric so having the needle down is important. With the needle down, lift up the presser foot. Insert the hand folded fabric into the curl of the foot. Lower the presser foot. Start stitching. Hold the fabric in front of you and at a slight angle toward you as you go making sure to let the foot do all of the work. You do not want to over-fold the fabric or you will end up with an uneven hem. Take it slowly. Make sure that everything is aligned as you stitch along with your fingers out front of the fabric.
If you come across a seam while sewing your rolled hem do not try to push the excess fabric through the curl of the foot. It will have disastrous results. Instead stop sewing with the needle down as you did when you started your hem. Lift up the presser foot and remove the fabric from the curl keeping it folded as you do. Lower the presser foot and continue sewing until you have sewn passed the seam then reinsert the fabric into the curl and continue stitching. Once you have completed your hem either backstitch or by pull the threads through to the wrong side and knot.