I’ve been wanting to learn how to use the rolled hem (or narrow hem) foot properly for quite some time now.
Included with my sewing machine, I’ve always found the idea of an accessory that rolls and stitches a hem at the same time very alluring. In fact, when you think about it, it seems like it could be one of your most used foot!

However, until now I’ve never managed to make it work.

Most of the time the fabric didn’t feed correctly into it or it stitched the hem but without folding it over. How frustrating!
But I was determined to master this technique because once your have the fabric in the right position and feeding correctly, then it’s like magic, creating a perfect, even hem on its own.

Want to the learn the tips and tricks I’ve developed to help make this technique fool proof? Then, read on…

Rolled-Hem-foot-title

Like any other techniques, I can’t stress enough the need for testing before actually using it on a project. Practice the following steps on small scraps of fabric and this foot will become your best friend in no time!

But first let’s start by getting to know better this accessory.

The anatomy of the rolled hem foot

On the back of the foot, you’ll find a groove. Measuring this channel will tell you what finished size of rolled hem you’ll create with it. So useful considering that they come in different sizes.

Rolled-Hem-Foot-1

The main feature of this foot is the sort of metal scroll in the middle of it. This is where the magic happens. When fed into this metallic spiral, the fabric will fold on itself just before being stitched by the needle.

So in order to obtain the best possible results, your main goal is to precisely insert the fabric into it and let it do all the hard work for you.

How do you do that? Let me show you my technique! 🙂

Rolled-Hem-Foot-2

Before starting to sew

After having measured the channel on the back of the foot, you can easily deduce the exact seam allowance you’ll need for your border. For exemple, on my foot this groove is 3 mm (1/8″). Because the finished hem is folded over twice, you simply double this measurement and get the seam allowance you’ll need. In my exemple, this would be 6 mm (1/4″).

Make sure your edge is accurately cut as this will simplify the process a lot.

Then press the first 5 cm (2″) of the hem, folding it once and then twice on itself. As this kind of border finish is commonly used with slippery fabric, this step can be a bit tricky. If you’re having trouble, you can always apply a small piece of interfacing or spray starch on the fabric so it’s more manageable.

Rolled-Hem-Foot-3

Placing the fabric into the foot

Now here’s one of my trick to make this process easier. Just take a length of sewing thread and going through all layers, tie it to the beginning of your hem.

Rolled-Hem-Foot-4

Because you’ll have the means to pull on both sides of the fabric, this will help you place it effortlessly under the foot, all the while keeping the hem in place.

Rolled-Hem-Foot-5

When doing so, hold the back thread to guide the fabric and partially engage the hem into the scroll of the foot. Then lower your needle.

Rolled-Hem-Foot-6

Now take a awl or another pointed object and unfold the hem so it goes completely into the scroll of the foot.

This is the absolute crucial part! If the fabric is not properly feed into the foot, that’s when it doesn’t work.

Rolled-Hem-Foot-7

Let’s stitch!

You’re now ready to stitch!

Because you have unfolded the hem with the awl, the edge of your fabric should be against the left side of your foot’s scroll. And if you start to sew, you’ll see the fabric being wrapped in the spiral which will create the folded edge.

This front space, where the spiral is, has the measurement of your seam allowance. So in keeping the edge of your fabric against it, you will ensure an even feed and thus a perfect result.

Rolled-Hem-Foot-8

Admire your work! It looks so professional, you can be proud of yourself! 🙂

Rolled-Hem-Foot-9

And when you’ve become the foot’s master, a really nice thing to try is to use the exact same method but stitching it in place with a zigzag.

Having the zigzag hit just outside both edges really looks great. On this picture, my hem is 3 mm (1/8″) and the zigzag is 3.5 mm wide. Doesn’t it look lovely?

Rolled-Hem-Foot-10

Are you still afraid of your rolled hem foot or convinced it can be mastered? I’m definitely of the latter and I’m now looking forward to a project I can happily hem away!

Have fun with this technique and let me know if this How-To helped you!

  • Theresa Guinan

    I’ve read “pages” of instructions, watched numerous videos and practiced for hours. You are the first person to address keeping the left edge, raw, against the left edge of the groove! Thank you thank you!

    • You’re very welcome! 🙂 I’m happy this How-To could be of use. Happy sewing!

  • Canary

    Is there some magical way to turn a corner with these hem feet? I’m a hankie user and since they are impossible to buy these days want to make a load of new ones. My serger does a nice rolled edge but there’s no hope of turning a corner with it.

    One thing I’ve found very helpful, especially with some fabrics is to to do a straight stitch along the edge first (or preferably stitch before cutting). It helps to stabilize the fabric and also gives you a tail to hold onto while guiding it through the foot.

    If a person has a machine that does fancy stitches some of them would look nice too. Cheers, Canary

    • That’s a good question! I would say that you could sew 2 opposite edges and then do the other two but it’s not something I’ve done before. So I have no idea if it would work. Will let you know when I try! 🙂
      Thanks for the interesting comment though!