Is your lack of hemming skills keeping your amazing creations from looking as polished, refined, and professional as you’d like, especially when working with fine or delicate fabrics? If so, we’ve got three words: rolled hem foot!
Experienced sewers may smile knowingly at the mention of this skinny-hem game changer, but novices may be scratching their heads. Simply put, a rolled hem foot is the perfect tool for anything that needs a neat and narrow hem; think blouses, skirts, dresses, table settings, and scarves, amongst many others.
The distinguishing feature of the rolled hem foot (also known as a hemmer foot) is the curved channel in the front that double folds the raw edge before the needle stitches the hem. It creates perfectly even and neat narrow hems and makes manually pressing the hem before sewing a thing of the past!
So, naturally, beginners wanting to advance their sewing skills simply must learn how to use a rolled hem foot on a sewing machine.
Questions? We’ve got answers:
How Do I Choose A Proper Foot?
Most machines come equipped with a rolled hem foot (above) but if not, they’re easy to find online, either individually or in sets. If you need to buy, we recommend choosing a universal foot with a snap-on low shank. The shank size could vary by machine manufacturer, so check your manual first. Beginners are encouraged to start with a funnel width of 1/8” (fun fact: smaller funnel width works best with lighter fabric).
Uh, What’s A Shank?
The shank on a sewing machine handles the stability of the fabric and helps create consistent stitches. It is the distance between the bottom of the presser foot and the screw. A low shank machine measures 3/4″ while a high shank machine is 1 ¼”. In case you’re wondering, most domestic sewing machines are of the low shank variety. When in doubt, refer to your manual to determine the shank size of your machine.
Where to Start?
Video Source: YouTube/Singer Sewing Company
Learning to use a roller hem isn’t difficult but there are many details to keep in mind as you learn this new skill. And, as usual, practice makes perfect. To make learning how to use a rolled hem foot easier, let’s break it down into basic steps:
- Clean up unfrayed edges with sharp scissors or rotary cutters. Clean edges make it easier to get a neat hem and prevent frayed pieces of cotton from sticking out from the final edge, because we all know how annoying that can be! For fabrics that are susceptible to fraying, which include all sheer and lightweight fabrics, cut the edges immediately before sewing so it doesn’t have time to unravel.
- Start your hem by finger pressing the double crease for the first two or three inches. This will help the fabric run through the funnel easier and smoother. Press the hem toward the back or rear side of the fabric, keeping a consistent length as you go. Pin that in place, and progress until you’ve got your hem the way you want it.
- With your hem completed, let’s go to the sewing machine, which should be adjusted to a straight stitch with a smaller stitch length. The hem you are about to sew is narrow, so set it to 2.0 for a more proportionate length.
Lay your fabric back side up on the machine’s needle plate. Lower the presser foot and use the hand wheel to lay out a few stitches. With the needle in a down position, raise the presser foot and feed the creased fabric into the funnel with a pair of tweezers. Lower the presser foot and start sewing, using a straight stitch with a setting length of 2.
- Feed the fabric into the funnel carefully and deliberately; let the funnel do the lion’s share of the work here. Hold it with a bit of tension while keeping a consistent hem allowance, but do not pull or curl it. Work with small portions of three to four inches each time, stopping to refold the fabric and check hem width, and then keep sewing until completion.
- Both hands should come into play as you sew, with the right hand keeping the seam allowance edge at the correct distance while the left hand guides the fabric. Finding out exactly where to hold the edge for best results may take some practice, so be prepared to stop regularly so you can reposition your hands as you go. As you sew, try to gently hold the edge out slightly folded.
- Voila! Say hello to a hand-crafted masterpiece of haute couture with perfect skinny-mini hems! Or maybe it’s just your first scarf. Either way, you can see that using a rolled hem foot greatly simplifies the process of making neat, narrow hems.
Tips and Tricks
- Mastering the roller hem takes practice, and beginners are advised to practice on scrap fabric that has the same composition as the fabric you’ll be working with.
- Leave a long thread tail for an easy seam start. Also, be sure to disengage your machine’s automatic thread cutter, if so equipped.
- Using a sewing needle and correct thread, especially when using delicate fabric, will prevent the fabric from tearing or jamming inside the machine.
Of course, these are simplified first steps into mastering how to use a rolled hem foot, and as you grow and improve, you may want to try some of the more advanced techniques, such as square and mitered corners, zig-zagged hems, cross seams, as well as working with different width rolled hem feet and fabric types. The sky’s the limit as to what you can accomplish once you’ve nailed down this classic sewing technique!