How Do You Sew A Rolled Hem?

Published: 14th February 2008
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How do you sew a rolled hem?


Raw edges of fabric are prone to fraying and they look unfinished.

The other day, we were setting up a big party for family and friends to celebrate the soon to be birth of our seventh grandchild and our second grand daughter. The piles of paperwork, fabric, mail, etc. were properly stuffed away out of sight. A light dusting was complete. We were ready to decorate. Our dining room table will serve as the centerpiece for gifts and the "Baby Party" cake. I found this beautiful satin jacquard fabric and thought it would be perfect as a tablecloth, but I didn't want to lose the opportunity to use it for something else like a beautiful jacket. So, I decided to use the fabric without edging it. I just left the raw edges.

Now, I must say it looked good, and no one said a thing about the edges. Unfortunately, every time I approached the table, I noticed a few threads fraying along the edge. I felt embarrassed and self conscious. What I should have done was sew a neat rolled hem along the edge. Maybe nobody else noticed, but I would have been so proud.

The rolled edge is wonderful for delicate to medium weight fabrics. Once finished the edge is almost entirely forgotten. The edge is just the way it should be.

By comparison, the edge could be finished with a simple fold over and top stitching, and that may be necessary on heavier fabrics. But the rolled hem gives a finished look free of the bulk and heaviness common to the folded over hem.

A rolled hem is a hem created by use of a special rolled hem presser foot on a serger or sewing machine. You feed the fabric through the guide in the foot. The foot actually rolls the fabric over in preparation for sewing. As the fabric is fed through the rolled hem foot it is top stitched in place creating a very narrow hem that can be used on dozens of different projects: table cloths, scarves, garments, linings, ruffles, etc. The finished hem will be between one and six millimeters wide depending on the size of the specialized presser foot and the thickness of the fabric.

Follow these simple guidelines to perfect rolled hems. You will need a good sewing machine (or serger) and its rolled hem foot. Prepare for sewing by cleaning the work area, and install the Rolled Hem Presser Foot. If you have more than one size of rolled hem presser feet select the one best suited to your project.

When you examine the rolled hem foot, you will notice a turned piece of metal that looks like a scroll. This actually helps turn the fabric in preparation for sewing. Under the presser foot, you will notice a groove that allows the rolled hem to easily pass under the presser foot after it is sewn.

Select a straight stitch appropriate for Rolled Hem Presser Foot. Note: many machines allow you to sew a straight stitch in multiple positions (left, center, right, in between). Make certain that your machine stitch is lined up properly with the needle hole in the Rolled Hem Presser Foot. A narrow zig zag setting may also be used if desired, but make sure that it fits your presser foot.

Normal tension settings are recommended unless you have recently changed the size of the thread you are using for the project. If you are changing the size of thread, you will need to adjust accordingly. Larger thread means decreasing tensions a little. Smaller thread means increase tension settings a little. After your sew your test seam, you may need to readjust your tensions for perfect stitch balance.

ALWAYS TEST FIRST. You may be an expert, and thinking to yourself, "I already know how to do all of this." If you have problems, during the test, fix before proceeding. It will save lots of heartache later.

Trim the edge to be hemmed. Remove any loose and especially any already frayed threads from the edge of the piece. Whenever possible align the fabric to be edge along its lengthwise grain. This will make a better hem than on cross grain or bias of the fabric.

Lay the fabric for hemming right side down (wrong side up). Position the fabric so the insertion will be to the right and the bulk of the fabric lies to your left. Using your right hand, roll the hand wheel toward you until the needle is at its highest position. With the folded fabric held tightly, lift the presser foot and slide the folded fabric under it. Lower the presser foot to hold the fabric in place. Roll the hand wheel forward some more until the needle penetrates the fabric to hold it in place.

Lift the presser foot, and remove any pins you may have near the presser foot. Slide the folded fabric into the shaped scroll guide of the foot. Lower the presser foot and prepare to sew. Take thread trails in your left hand and hold them to the left and behind the needle to prevent their messing up your hem. Take hold the edge of the fabric rolling the fabric over your thumb. Gently, feed and guide it through the rolled hem presser foot scroll guide as you sew.

Hemming is a true art form. Beautiful perfect hems finish the project. They give the feeling of satisfied completion. They bring all the pieces together. The Rolled Hem is just one of several exciting techniques for finishing the edges of your project. There are also several enhancements and alternative ways to achieve the Rolled Hem. Not only can you do a rolled hem on your sewing machine, you can do one on your serger.

To learn more sewing techniques check out http://www.sewinganswers. Com and http://www.sewinganswers.com/Hem_Edging.php



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