How to Sew a Rolled Hem | Madam Sew

How to Use a Rolled Hem Foot to Get a Perfectly Narrow Hem

I have to admit, I was a bit afraid of using a rolled hem foot before writing this blog post... I don’t have a lot of experience with rolled hems and I don’t often work with very thin and slippery fabrics, unless it is for costumes. I know a rolled hem can be challenging to make. Instructions usually read like: “turn edge under ¼”, press, stitch near fold, trim to ⅛”, then turn under, press, and stitch again”. OK, right… After burning your fingertips and on top of that uneven and amateurish results, you might want to try - like me - one of these narrow hemming presser feet :-).

In this post I’m going to show you how to use a rolled hem foot so you can overcome your fears, like me.

A narrow hemmer foot isn’t the easiest foot to work with. Getting started needs some explanation (so read on!) and once you’re there and your material is not too slippery, it is totally manageable. The real challenge is going over seams, making corners, and finishing curved edges with really slippery material. But in the end, the result will still be more professional than trying to do the same without these feet. I hope this post gives you enough information on how to do a rolled hem with confidence!

What Is a Narrow Hem?

Narrow Hem

Narrow hems are used for lightweight and delicate fabrics. The result is a very small hem, 1/8” to 1/16”, made up of two tiny folds. It’s not easy to press these folds and stitch them down with a normal foot. That’s where the rolled hem foot is the tool you need. It’s the fasted method once you get the grip of using the foot.

A rolled hem foot or a flat hem foot, also known as hemmer feet feature a funnel on the front side where your fabric will roll up into and then the needle will sew the little hem down. They are both snap on feet and are part of our 32 pieces Ultimate Presser Foot Set (#30 and #31).

A flat hem foot is very similar to a rolled hem foot but the funnel is a little bigger and thus the hem a little wider and flatter than the rolled hem. The final hem produced by the rolled hem foot is slightly rounder, as it escapes the back of the foot through a curved groove..

Bottom of Rolled Hem Presser Feet
Rolled Hem Foot on Sewing Machine

How to Set Up a Sewing Machine to Sew a Rolled Hem

Rolled hems take a lot of practice, but preparing your fabric properly and setting up your machine right helps a lot.

Install the narrow hem foot on your sewing machine. It is a snap-on presser foot so you need to remove your regular presser foot and snap this foot on the presser foot holder. If you have questions about this process or want to know if this foot will fit your sewing machine, read this blog post about sewing machine shanks and presser feet first.

Some extra tips before you get started:

  • Practice on some lightweight scraps and compare the rolled and the flat hem foot to decide on the finishing you want.

  • Leave a thread tail for a better grip when you start

  • Keep a pair of tweezers on hand to help you with the feeding process

  • Select a small stitch length on your machine and use a needle and thread for the type of fabric you are using.

How to Use the Rolled Hem Foot

Now that the hem foot is on your machine, we can move to the sewing part.

  • Fold the first inch of the hem over twice and pin it in place.

  • Then, press or just hold the hem between your fingers or tweezer. Match the fold in your hem with the hem width of the foot. Both the rolled hem foot and the flat hem foot make ⅛” wide hems. Depending on the material you use, the result can be a little wider. The flat hem foot and my knit fabric resulted in a 0.15” (5/32”) wide hem.

1. Turn edge under ⅛”

Turn Edge Under ⅛”

2. Double fold ⅛”

Hold Fold at the Beginning

3. Put the fold under your presser foot

Starting to Sew a Rolled Hem

4. Presser foot in the down position

Put Presser Foot Down

5. Lower the needle The needle should be right at the inner fold of the fabric. Sew a couple of stitches and back stitch

Place First Stitch at Inner Fold of Fabric

6. Lift the presser foot. Keep the needle in the down position

Left Presser Foot

7. Put the fabric in the curl

Place Fabric in Curl

8. Start stitching and feeding the fabric in evenly

Feed Fabric Into Rolled Hem Foot Evenly

If you’re using a very lightweight fabric that is difficult to handle, you can stabilize the first inch with a little strip of fusible interfacing or spray some hairspray on your fabric to stiffen the fabric. It won’t slip that much and will feed easier as well.

Some people first sew on a little thread tail to get a better grip. Just sew a few stitches and backstitch.

If your fabric sinks into the throat plate, you can put a tissue or a small piece of paper under the presser foot. You can also switch to a straight stitch plate, if you have one.

Fabric Stuck in Feed Dogs
Sew on Paper to Prevent Feeding Issues

Sew slowly. Use both hands to guide the fabric through the funnel. The left hand will guide the fabric through. Keep a little tension, without pulling too hard. Slightly direct the fabric to the left so that it feeds easier.

Feed in a little strip of ¼ inch. Make sure the fold stays next to the foot and doesn’t go under. The fabric that goes under results in a wider hem. Even feeding is important.

Feed Fabric Into Rolled Hem
Sew Rolled Hems Slowly

If you feed too much fabric in, the raw edge will show next to the hem.

Don’t Feed Too Much Fabric Into Rolled Hem

When you feed too little, it will result in a single fold hem and the raw edge will show as well. That’s not pretty.

Messed Up Rolled Hem

When your fabric slides under the guide on the right, the hems become bigger and irregular

Uneven Rolled Hem
Correct Rolled Hem Set Up

The dark material is a very thin stretchy knit fabric, so I used a little zigzag. In the following picture, the left stitching is with the rolled hem foot and the right is down with the flat hem foot.

Rolled Hem Foot Vs. Flat Hem Foot

How to Sew Through Seams with a Narrow Hem Foot

Going over seams is tricky. If they are tiny, they might just pass through the curl and then it’s easy. You can first try to make them less bulky. Just trim the corners. Unfortunately, most of the time, the seam won’t pass the curl. If that is the case, you must stop half an inch before the seam, put the fabric double folded flat under the foot, and stitch it down like you would do with a standard foot. Once you’re past the seam, you just wriggle the fabric back into the rolled hem foot and continue. A third option is to end half an inch before the seam, and backstitch. Then you can skip the seam and restart beyond the seam. When you finish sewing with the hemmer foot, go back and fill in the hem at the cross seams separately with a standard foot or a walking foot.

I used the second method and finally basted the edge around the seam a bit, because the fold just wouldn’t stay as I wanted it.

How to Sew Over Seams with a Narrow Hemmer Foot
How to Use a Rolled Hem Foot

How to Sew Circular Hems with a Narrow Hem Foot

Hemming a circular edge is basically the same as hemming over seams. The feeding of curved edges is more challenging than straight edges. And at a certain point you will reach a seam that doesn’t want to cooperate. Then just trim the edges of the seam allowance and use one of the techniques I described above.

Press Seam Open
Fold Edge Over
Feed Fabric Into Rolled Hem Foot
Hold Seam in Place
Sew a Few Stitches

How to Sew Square Corners with a Narrow Hem Foot

Finishing square corners with a hemmer foot is not easy. I’ve seen some neat results with the hemmer feet but I haven’t gotten the results I want. More practice I suppose... I can explain the technique to you, though. Hem the first edge, like the others.,Start, hem, and stop at the corner. Cut the threads. Double fold the next edge 1/8”. Sew a couple of stitches, needle down, presser foot up, and wriggle the fabric in the curl. Hem until the corner. If the next edge already has a hem, you stop half an inch before the corner, get the fabric out of the curl, double fold it and put it under the presser foot and stitch the hem down. There is no fabric in the funnel.

Narrow Hem at Corner
Underside of Narrow Hem at Corner

I hemmed a basic long-sleeved t-shirt with the flat hem foot. The fabric is a real soft fine quality knit with a lot of stretch (= not so easy to work with :-)). I basted the seams a bit to hold the double fold in place. There is still room for improvement, but I’m getting there, I’m sure :-).

Some Quick Tips for Knit Fabrics:

  • Use a rotary cutter + mat and pattern weights for cutting out the pattern. You get a much nicer cut than with scissors.

  • Use a stretch needle (and/or double needle, or a jersey needle).

  • Select a low stitch width number with a higher stitch length so you get a flat looking stitch. These stitches can stretch with the fabric.

  • Use a knit foot or a walking foot.

  • Use your serger to finish the edges (3 threads) or use 4 threads and don’t bother using your sewing machine.

  • Iron on seam tape to strengthen the collar.

  • Use a flat hem foot to finish the bottom edge and the sleeves.

Knit Foot
Rolled Hem on Knit Shirt

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There are also sewing machine attachments to sew wider hems. The wide hem feet also turn and sew down hems. The idea is the same.

If you have questions about the rolled hem foot, please send me an email or leave a comment below. I hope this post has been helpful if you’re new to using a rolled hem foot. It is challenging, but with practice you can get some professional looking results.

Keep reading our blog!

Happy Sewing!


Sewing aficionado and keen sewing blogger/vlogger.
An is Madam Sew’s dedicated creative brain, writing and filming insightful, inspirational content for the sewing enthusiast.

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The blog was informative, but I don’t have it yet. Will keep trying.

Lola Bolden

I also did not learn much from the video about how to start the rolled hem . I fudged it and was able to somehow get it started. I can tel I will enjoy this foot when
I understand it more. The written blog tutorial was much more informative. Now I am ready to try again !

Linda nicholson

I just got my rolled hem feet I can’t wait to try them .


I’ve had the Hemmer feet for some time, but was chicken to use them. I alter formal and bridal wear, have used horse hair braid method, but got a dress with several underskirts so gave it a spin! I will never go back to old method!!


I really enjoyed this tutorial on the flat hem foot. I found the suggestions on how to apprach the seems was instructive and I shall try them to see which one I am mire comfortable with. Thank you


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