One of the essential dressmaking techniques seen in Week 2 of The Great British Sewing Bee is how to sew a rolled hem. This advice, taken from the fantastic book The Sewing Machine Classroom by Charlene Phillips, will teach you the ins and outs of this hemming technique.
How to sew a rolled hem using a hemmer foot
A hemmer foot has a round channel under the foot that holds the rolled fabric securely until it reaches the needle. On the rolled hemmer foot, the channel continues to the back so the rolled hem flows smoothly under the foot. Although not every type of hem requires the use of a hemmer foot, many do. Getting the hem started with any hemmer foot is crucial to achieving a perfect hem from beginning to end. Here are two different methods for getting started with a hemmer foot – choose the one that works best for you.
Fold under the edge just like the hem will be rolled; finger press about 1″ (2.5cm) in place. Place the folded fabric under the foot without inserting it into the scroll. Stitch 1⁄2″–3⁄4″ (12.7mm–19.1mm). While holding the back threads with one hand, raise the foot and wiggle the folded fabric into the scroll and pull the fabric forward. When inserted correctly, the folded fabric will be in the scroll, and the fabric in front of the foot will begin to fold, forming the hem. Lower the foot and begin sewing. Keep the scroll filled with a sufficient amount of fabric by gently holding the fabric in front of the foot to the left.
Cut a 2″ (5cm) wide strip of water-soluble stabilizer the length of the hem. With the stabilizer on top, match the edge of the stabilizer and the fabric. Twirl the stabilizer and fabric into the scroll and begin sewing. The use of stabilizer provides a necessary stiffness to help guide the fabric edge into the scroll. The raw edge is completely enclosed so there isn’t opportunity for fraying. When the hem is complete, cut away excess stabilizer and rinse until it’s completely gone.
How to Sew a Rolled Hem
Use a rolled hemmer foot to achieve professional and very dainty hems. Rolled hems are softer and work perfectly on lightweight fabrics, as a finish for ruffles or as a narrow hem on lingerie.
Use a universal needle and a zigzag stitch. Loosen top tension if necessary. Press the first 4″ (10cm) of the hem (the foot will continue to fold as it sews). Adjust the needle position so the left swing of the needle falls in the fabric past the hem and encloses it, and the right swing falls off the right edge. The fabric rolls into a tiny hemmed edge as the needle swings left. The hem has a “sawtooth” effect.
Rolled Hem Settings
Foot: Rolled hemmer
Needle: Universal appropriate for fabric
Stitch length: 1.5mm
Stitch width: 3.4mm–4.5mm
Note: Needle should be in the left position