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.