Narrow Rolled Hems 2 Ways | Madam Sew

Narrow Rolled Hems 2 Ways

I was alway intrigued by tiny hems, especially those finished with a lot of thread. I must admit, I am still learning and haven’t found the perfect finish yet. Sewing is trial and error, right? There are so many factors that can influence a result on a certain fabric, that you can’t always follow instructions literally.

In this post, I am showing you 2 ways in which you can finish an edge with a narrow hem, also referred to as a “rolled hem”. My goal is to give you all the information that I have in order to empower you to get started with experimenting with these techniques. The look of these 2 narrow hems is very different. The first one is a serged hem. This one creates a narrow, dense, thread-wrapped edge on your fabric (photo with the pink fabric). A serged hem can be used as a decorative touch to an edge, whereas a hem made with a Narrow Hem Foot will roll up the edge of the fabric and with only one row of stitches pushing the rolled hem down (photo with the blue fabric).

2 ways rolles hem
serged hem

Serging a Narrow Hem

Sewing a tiny rolled hem with your serger is ideal for curved edges or hems that can’t show a lot of bulk. This is a very easy machine-stitched hem and the result is great. I like to use it for the edge of little napkins or round tablecloths.

serging a narrow hem
tiny rolled hem

When using your serger to make a rolled hem, you need to change some settings on your machine. You can check the manual of your machine for specific instructions, but on most machines, the following settings should get you a long way.

Before you start adapting your machine’s settings, write down the settings you are using to finish edges so that you can quickly ‘reset’ your machine to an overlock setting.


1. To sew rolled hems, you need 3 threads and only 1 needle. Remove the left needle.

3 threads


2. Adapt the lower knife. This dial is hidden here on my Yuki (see picture). Put the knob to length 1 - 2

adapt the lower knife


3. Put the stitch length dial to 1 - 1.5. The shorter the stitch length the more densely the looper threads are packed side by side. This way the thread you use is more highlighted.

stitch lenght dial


4. Pull the little white knob (overlock width selection knob) in front of the presser foot forward.

white knob


5. Put the lower looper thread tension dial to 7-9. All the other thread tension dials can be set to 4.

out the lower looper thread

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Test the hem on a piece of scrap. All good? You can play with the stitch length, the lower knife setting, and the lower looper thread tension to get the hem you want. If you want to add a gathering or rippling effect to the edge of your fabric, you can also change the differential feed. A lower than 1 setting stretches the fabric, a higher than 1 gathers the fabric and 1 is the ‘neutral’ position. Depending on the fabric, you might have to adjust this setting, even to get a flat result.

Want rolled hem corners? Just sew until the edge, stop at the very end of your fabric, not past the fabric, lift the presser foot, wriggle the fabric loose a little, turn the fabric and continue sewing.

test hem on a piece of scrap
play with stitch hem
lower knife setting
lower the looper thread
add gathering effect
change different feed

Rolled Hems with a Regular Sewing Machine

You can also sew rolled hems with your regular sewing machine. You can do it in 2 steps with a regular sewing machine, but you can also use a specialty presser foot to sew rolled hems with only one row of stitches and no additional pressing.

In this blog post and video that I made a while ago, I’m showing how to use the 2 narrow hem feet that are in the 32 pieces Ultimate Presser Foot Set. You can also get the Narrow Hem Foot separately! NARROW HEM FEET BLOG LINK

narrow hem

I also made a manual that shows how to use the wide hem feet. These feet create rolled hems that are ½, ¾ or 1 inch wide, so not the ‘narrow hems’ but I thought it might interest you as well. WIDE HEM FEET MANUAL LINK

narrow hem foot
wide hem feet

If you have any questions about narrow hems, don’t hesitate to send me an email:

Have fun hemming!
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If you want professional hems, watch this. Very easy to understand and shows you different options for making lovely hems. Wish I had this years ago. The optional feet shown streamline hemming by machine. Note- practice on scraps before you start on your project. Your fabric has characteristics that make one method better than another. Happy hemming.

Joan Dreyer

I cant get my 3 feet. To work. Doesnt feed material.


You make it look so easy. I must practice more. I generally sew on silk or feather weight cotton. I think I have too heavy a touch. And starting the initial fold is essential.


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