Using a rolled hem foot (also called a narrow hem foot or hemmer foot) is a fast and easy way to get a perfect narrow hem suitable for fine and sheer fabrics and curved hemlines. It is particularly useful for sewing hems on ruffles as the narrow hem allows them to hang beautifully while saving a substantial amount of sewing time.
What is a Rolled Hem Foot?
A rolled hem foot (also called a hemmer foot) has a curved channel in the front that double folds the raw edge before the needle stitches the hem. It eliminates the need to manually press the hem before you sew and creates perfectly even and neat narrow hems.
Most machines come with a rolled hem foot but if yours hasn't you can pick one up quite cheaply either individually or in a kit from eBay or Amazon. Some of the kits you can purchase are of amazing value and I haven't found a lot of difference in sewing with aftermarket sewing machine feet.
What Does a Rolled Hem Foot Look Like?
This is the rolled hem foot from my Janome sewing machine. You will notice it is a snap-on type which makes it easy to switch over quickly. Some older machines may have a screw-on variety.
Notice the curved channel at the front. This is what turns the fabric over as you are sewing.
Why Use a Rolled Hem Foot (HEMMER FOOT)?
- Using a rolled hem foot is faster than pressing hems and then straight stitching.
- The hems created are neat and even.
- You can use your rolled hem (hemmer foot) for sheer fabrics and synthetics which would be impossible to press hems into.
- It is easiest to use a rolled hem on straight edges but with a little practice, you can use it on gentle curves as well.
Don't have a rolled hem foot yet? Read how to sew a narrow hem.
Rolled hem feet are used for blouse and skirt hems, scarves, and any project where you need a neat but narrow hem. A rolled hem foot is generally not suitable for sewing corners and deep curves.
The red dress below uses a narrow hem along the edges of all the ruffles and the sleeves. The pink dress uses a narrow hem along the bottom and sleeve edges. Both of these fabrics are most likely polyester mixes and would have been impossible to press the hem into without using the hemmer foot.
Types of Rolled Hem Foot
Rolled hem feet come in different widths to suit your desired hem width. The most common type of rolled hem foot is a ⅛ inch (3mm) seam width. They also come in a ¼ inch (6mm) size.
If you are trying to sew a curved hem or really sheer fabrics then you will get the best results from the smaller hem size.
How to Use a Rolled Hem Foot (Hemmer Foot)
Stitch Settings for a Rolled Hem Foot
Adjust your sewing machine to a straight stitch with a smaller stitch length. Because of the narrow width of the hem you are about to sew, the length looks more in proportion if you set it to around 2.0.
In some instances, you may prefer a zig-zag stitch but experiment and see what kind of look suits the item you are sewing.
Clean Unfrayed Edges
Double-check your fabric to make sure the edge is not frayed. A clean edge will make it easier to get a neat hem and stop frayed pieces of cotton sticking out from the final edge. There is nothing worse than having to go back and cut or pick out all the protruding threads at the end.
For fabrics that fray really badly, cut the edge immediately before sewing so it doesn't have time to unravel.
Step 1 - Finger Press the End
Start by finger pressing the end over twice by ⅛ inch (3mm). Hold it in place with a pin placed horizontally. You will want to fold over the first 3 inches (8cm).
Step 2 - Preparing to Sew
Lower the presser foot on your fabric and remove the pin. Stitch 4 stitches while holding the threads to prevent them from catching underneath.
If you forget to hold the threads at the back, you will probably get a jam in your machine as the end of the fabric is pushed into the dog feed below.
Step 3 - Stitch the Hem
After your 4 stitches, stop with the needle down in the fabric. This will stop the fabric from moving around while you reposition.
Lift up the foot and insert the folded fabric into the curl of the foot. Put the foot down again. The trick is not to curl it over too much. Let the foot do the work.
Start stitching again holding the fabric in front.
Look what a neat edge this gives you! I couldn't have achieved quite the same result without using the rolled edge foot, particularly for ⅛ inch (3mm) hems. Generally, when I try and manually press hems that small I burn my fingers with the iron.
Rolled Hem Foot - TIPS
- As you stitch along it helps to gently hold the edge out slightly folded. It did take me a little practice to work out exactly where to hold the edge to get the best results.
- Resist trying to curl or pull the fabric yourself and let the curved channel do the work. You will probably find that you need to stop regularly to reposition your hand in front.
- If after being sewn, your hem looks wrinkled or stretched out, give it a press with a steam iron. Don't drag the iron along but rather press down and lift to do the next section. If you gently stretch out the hem as you press it will look really good when you are finished.
Corners with a Rolled Hem Foot (Hemmer Foot)
If you do need to sew a corner with your rolled hem foot you will need to sew in in 2 passes. Sew the first edge all the way to the end. Then do the second edge separately starting at step 1.
A better way to sew hems with corners may be to use a regular foot and a normal double folded edge with a mitered corner technique.
This method will take a little longer so it depends on how much time you have and what perfection level you want in your final product.
Rolled Hem Foot - In Conclusion
Now that you have mastered how to use your rolled hem foot (hemmer foot) why not try these 2 easy techniques for creating a narrow hem with your regular foot.
- Method 1 will show you how to make a narrow hem by serging the edge and then pressing it once and straight stitching. This method works particularly well for curved hems such as circular skirts.
- Method 2 will show you how to double fold the hem and is best suited to straight hems on sheer and fine fabrics.
Do you have any extra tips to share? Comment below.
Rolled Hem Foot
- Rolled Hem Foot
- Finger press the end over twice by ⅛ inch (3mm) for the first 3 inches (8cm). Pin horizontally.
- Lower the presser foot on your fabric and remove the pin. Stitch 4 stitches while holding the threads to prevent it from catching underneath.
- After your 4 stitches, stop with the needle down in the fabric. Liftthe foot and insert the folded fabric into the curl of the foot. Put the foot down again. Start stitching again holding the fabric in front.
- Continue stitching.
More How to Sew Hems
- GENERAL HEMS – How to Sew a Hem
- NARROW HEMS – How to sew a narrow hem
- ROLLED HEM FOOT – How to use a rolled hem foot
- WIDE HEMS – How to sew wide hems
- CIRCULAR HEMS – How to sew circular hems
- BLIND HEMS – How to sew a blind hem | blind hem foot
- RUFFLED HEMS - Lettuce hems
- KNIT FABRIC HEMS - How to hem knit fabric
- KNIT HEMS - Twin Needle
- SQUARE HEMS - How to Sew Mitered Corners
- SCALLOPED HEMS - Scalloped Edges
Thank you so, so much for this! I've had a rolled hem foot (it was included in a presser foot kit) that I purchased years ago. I tried using it several times in the past but gave up due to undesirable results :(. I was determined to learn how to use it correctly and I stumbled upon your blog. It was very helpful! I even did a trial run with great results before I hem the actual baby bloomers.
This was so helpful - thank you!
Thank you so much for you fantastic tutorial! I was dreading pinning/hemming a long Prince Charming cape until I found your tutorial through Pinterest. It was so easy and fast--easily cut my work in half and it looks so professional! I'm so incredulous I had this magic tool in my sewing kit for years and only found its use now!