First Hand Rolled Hem

For the current project I’m working on, I wanted to try a hand rolled hem. I’m not a fan of hand stitching, but I thought the shaping of the hem on this particular project could benefit from the control of doing it by hand vs machine. I learned how to do this technique from a tutorial on Unlike most tutorials I found her technique didn’t require any machine stitching. Along with the best photos, it seemed to give the nicest result.

My project entailed hemming a silk charmeuse, using the matte side as my right side. Here’s the initial stitching – note that it is done entirely by hand, no overlocking or regular sewing machine stitching. The further I went along, the more even my stitching got.


And (part of) the finished result, once I pulled the thread taut:



Here’s a HD video I took of how it rolls back on itself when after I pull the thread. You can also view it on Instagram.

I’m kind of surprised at how people are in such awe of the video, especially since at least some of them must have done a hand rolled hem before. I wonder what technique they’ve been using, and how it differed from this one.

The Silverstah tutorial is excellent, but I wanted to add some of my own notes:

  • This is yet another case of “practice makes perfect.” If you’re very picky about a certain project, practice on some scraps first. (I am not so picky.) Eventually you’ll notice you develop a rhythm, and your stitching gets quicker and more accurate. But keep in mind it is still a tedious and time-consuming method – I think it took me about 2 hours to hem 2 feet of skirt. Ugh! Hopefully the second half of stitching will go quicker.
  • Keep some scissors nearby, and trim any fraying seam allowances as you go along.
  • For maximum effect in the video I think I went about 2.5″ before pulling the thread taut. (Hey, part of photography is learning how to present for maximum impact.) In practice I pulled the thread taut every 1/2″ around the curves, and maybe every 1-2″ for straight edges. The hand rolled hem really shines along bias edges, as you can pull in the fullness as you go along. With machine hems I often get waviness or ripples, especially if I’m sewing a bias edge using a rolled hem foot.
  • I used a #10 John James sharp needle. This needle was the smallest and finest I could find on Cleaner’s Supply. I’ve heard that a good quality brand needle helps make hand sewing a little bit more enjoyable, and I have to say that I agree with that statement.
  • Instead of my normal Gutermann Mara 100 (or all-purpose) thread, I used Magnifico polyester thread. This is a shiny, slippery, lighter weight thread used for embroidery, quilting, and decorative stitching.
  • I kept the stitching at 1/8″. You can see the section below where I tried it at 1/4″ spacing. Not pretty, though it might be ok if you planned on pressing the hem flat rather than keeping the soft roll effect.



9 thoughts on “First Hand Rolled Hem

  1. Excellent photos! That really showed the difference in 1/8″ and 1/4″ stitching. I agree that a good quality needle makes such a difference with fine work like this. I have found the same true with pins. Once I used Merchant and Mills pins and hand needles I tossed out everything else. Why make a labourous job even more so?

    Thanks for the link, I’ll be checking out that website now. I enjoy learning new ways to do things, sometimes there are far simpler ways to get things done than what I’ve worked out for myself.


    1. I’m not sure if it was just the springiness of my fabric or if it is a general best practice rule, but 1/8″ seemed to work the best. It looks like in the tutorial she also went with a 1/8″ stitch length.


  2. Well, well, I’m saying to myself, one can sew for a gosh darned long time and still learn new and useful things. Thank you for this – with a beautiful result, too. I’m keen to try this in my next silk blouse project 🙂


  3. I have never sewn, but always admired, a hand rolled hem. Your pictures really highlight that this technique is a process, with its own set of tricks to practice for a nice outcome. Thanks for sharing. I may just have to give this a try myself!


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