For the January issue of Threads I decided to practice a technique: the rolled hem. I looked through my fabrics on hand and chose a polyester “satin” type fabric. Usually, rolled hems are used on light-weight fabrics. Knowing that rolled hems are a little tricky, I wanted to use a little bit heavier fabric than a chiffon or silk or charmeuse. I tried all three techniques as discussed in Threads.
The first technique was the hand-rolled and stitched hem. It was definitely tricky. But with a little practice I think it is my preferred technique.
Notes on this technique: be sure the fold is the same depth; help the hem to roll as you pull the thread; make the distance sewn before pulling the thread to roll the hem shorter for heavier fabrics; be careful not to pull too tightly.
Note added on February 3: The directions in the Threads issue were not very clear and I think I did not exactly understand how to do the technique. The way I did it worked ok. But I found more clear directions in the ASG Notions, Winter 2015. I tried it on china silk and it worked perfectly with a tiny rolled hem.
I used a light lavender thread so that I could see the stitches. Even with the lavender thread the stitches are invisible on the wrong side and barely visible on the right side. And would have been more invisible had I taken smaller stitches as directed.
Here are the detailed instructions: “Fold the raw edge of the fabric up a scant 1/8 inch. Insert the needle between the layers and bring it out at the fold. Take a small stitch just below the raw edge, picking up one or two threads of the fabric.
Bring the needle back up and insert it into the fold, a thread or two from where it emerged. Glide it between the layers for about 3/8 inch and then bring it out at the fold.
Repeat the sequence, keeping the thread relaxed as you work, to create a “picket fence pattern” with nice straight posts. Stop after you’ve gone about 3 to 4 inches, gently pull the thread until the fabric curls up into a lovely rolled edge. Repeat in small increments until the hem is finished.”
This method worked easily and perfectly!!
The second technique I practiced was the machine sewn rolled-hem using a rolled-hem foot. My rolled-hem foot was tiny, probably 2.0 mm. I found that this tiny hem was difficult to sew on the machine. Most of the time it didn’t really roll the fabric under to be stitched. Also, the edge seemed to stretch and was wavy. The article recommends a 4.0 mm to 6.0 mm foot for better results.
On the left you can see the edge that was not rolled under before stitched. Also, you can see it was difficult to keep the hem uniform in depth.
The third technique was the serger-rolled edge. This one I didn’t like at all. I don’t think it is very pretty with all the threads showing.
My conclusions from practicing the rolled-hem: I really like the way the hand-rolled and stitched hem looks. I would like to practice this technique more on lighter weight fabrics and see if I can make the hem even smaller. The machine sewn rolled-hem I think could be nice. It is certainly faster. It would be interesting to try sewing with a larger rolled-hem foot. It is difficult to do on fabrics that don’t press well, since you need to press in the fold. I did not like the look of the serger rolled-hem. It was very fast. But not pretty.