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  • Writer's picturelaurajparker

Tutorial - How To Do a Rolled Hem by Hand

Updated: Nov 18, 2018

One of the most challenging, frustrating fabrics to work with is chiffon.  Over the years I’ve learned various tips and tricks to working with it – some quick and dirty (machined hems!), and some time-consuming, but beautiful.  One of the prettiest techniques is doing a rolled hem by hand.  It’s a little tedious, but once you get your rhythm going it moves along fairly quickly.

I love this technique because it produces a lovely rolled edge without much prep work – you don’t have to iron or pin anything into place.  I sketched in my hem line lightly with pencil so that it would be even – but you don’t really have to do that, either.  Use a nice, sharp needle that will allow you to pick up single threads – the smaller, the better.  Your thread should be fine and color match your fabric – here, I’m using Gutterman silk.

Like all new techniques, you should practice on a scrap of your fabric before working on your actual garment.  If your garment has curved or bias edges, make sure you practice on a curved or bias scrap!

(Warning: unmanicured hands ahead!)

Step one: fold your cleanly cut edge in about 1/4″ (or 1/16″, for a truly tiny edge!) towards the wrong side of the fabric.

Steps Two and Three: pick up a SINGLE thread from your fabric, and then a tiny stitch from the edge of your fold, like so:

Step Four: Pull your needle and thread through, but do not pull taut.  Repeat this step a few times – I generally do an inch or two, like so:

Step Five: Once you have a few stitches in place, gently but firmly pull your thread through.  The chiffon will roll back in on itself, creating a lovely little rolled edge, like so:

And, from the front:

And, the finished edge, after ironing:

It takes a little practice, but the technique is fairly easy and gives your work a truly lovely finished look.  So much nicer than machine rolled hems!  This also works well on fine handkerchief weight linens, which makes it a great way to edge veils for Medieval reenactors and SCA folks.

Happy hemming!

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