Feb 01

Tutorial: How to do a rolled hem by hand

One of the most challenging, frustrating fabrics to work with (at least, for ME) 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:2013-01-30_13-52-31_920

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!


6 pings

Skip to comment form

  1. zweisamkeit

    Ahhhh! Thank you! I spent a chunk of time looking for a HAND-sewn rolled hem tutorial. Yours is absolutely the best I found. This is so clear and detailed and you included perfect images. Thank you so much!

  2. Lauren

    I agree, definitely the best tutorial I found

  3. Kiran

    A very good tutorial and I like th end result. However, I was looking for a method they use in Indian sarees and scarves made from chiffon etc.the stitches seem to cross over the rolled edge.

    1. Silverstah

      I’m sorry – this is the only method I use. I’m not sure what they use on sarees!

  4. Sarah

    Your tutorial has given me the confidence to tackle this. Thank you!

    1. Silverstah

      Wonderful! Good luck!

  5. lynn Dee

    That helped me so muct! I am working on a dance costume with a silk chiffon circle skirt attached to a leotard. Do you have an idea of the best way to seam the two full circle pieces of chiffon together for the waist and then attach it to the leotard. Serging is too aggressive with this material. Would a double zig zag work to avoid fraying?

    1. Silverstah

      Lynn – I’m glad you found the tutorial helpful! To seam the two halves of the circle skirt together, I’d probably use a French Seam – that will firmly encase all the raw edges and be nice and strong for the abuse that dance costumes seem to take. As for attaching it to the leotard – a double zigzag would probably work to reduce fraying. What is the waist treatment going to be like? I might consider cutting a small strip of jersey or other stretchy fabric and overlaying that on top of the attachment point at the waist to cover up that seam?

  6. Fiona

    I would like to say thanks for sharing that. I have experimented with varying degrees of success, and this is so simple! thanks again

  7. Gloria

    Thank you so much, I hadn’t done a rolled hem since my 4-H days many years ago! This technique was easy and made a beautiful hem for my grandaughter’s prom dress that needed hemming!

    1. Silverstah

      Wonderful! I’m so glad it was useful!

  8. Annette

    Do you actually need to hem it . I quite like the soft edge but need to do this properly as it is someone’s wedding dress. I see you say hem but I just wonder if I should

    1. Silverstah

      It’s been my experience that chiffon will generally fray if it is left unhemmed – so I would advise hemming it in some manner. A serged rolled hem is a quick, easy fix – and there are a number of tutorials on how to do a machine rolled hem. Hope it worked out for you!

  9. Kim quinn

    So happy I found this site. Totally new to sewing. Must do by hand as I don’t own a machine. Advice needed. I bought 7 feet of chiffon, it’s folded in half lengthwise. I am a size 22-24W. Making a rectangular wrap that I would like to wear around my shoulders but tie in back. Do I cut lengthwise. in two pieces, attach end to end and then shorten equally from each end for 8 feet total? This is for my daughters wedding Oct. 17th. I want to look pretty for her so bad. Help anyone?

  10. Lucy Laverne

    This is amazing! Very easy to follow, great directions. I’ve been doing it wrong all these years without much success and now this is it! I’m now going to tackle all those too-wide chiffon scarves in my closet that can easily be halved and hand roll hem them! Perfect task for a snowed-in day. Thank you so much!

    1. Silverstah

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the tutorial! Happy sewing!

  11. Julie

    I just used this to fix a tear in a dress and it ended up nicer than where I originally tried with the seeing machine. I literally took out the hem and did the entire dress over by hand. Thank you for this great tutorial.

    1. Silverstah

      I’m so glad it was helpful!

  1. Hems | Pearltrees

    […] Rolled hem by hand (chiffon) […]

  2. lenapatsa.com-Rolled hem by hand - lenapatsa.com-

    […] Tutorial: How to do a rolled hem by hand by Laura Parker @Silverstah […]

  3. Elevation Madness, Part 1 | The Parti-Colored Fleur

    […] the length of the garment.  There are lots of different tutorials out there on how to do this, but here’s the one I used.  The author demonstrates on a very light chiffon fabric, so you can see how well this technique […]

  4. Sewing Indie Month Tutorial over at Paprika Patterns –

    […] almost no visible stitching. It’s usually reserved for very lightweight fabrics like chiffon. This tutorial is a good example of the method I […]

  5. Sewing Indie Month Tutorial over at Paprika Patterns All in one DIY & Fun | All in one DIY & Fun

    […] almost no visible stitching. It’s usually reserved for very lightweight fabrics like chiffon. This tutorial is a good example of the method I […]

  6. Some Handsewing Tricks | Sewing Empire

    […] have not yet heard about this magical stitch, here are two tutorial explaining the process: I used this one by Laura. Alternatively, there is also a nice video tutorial on the Threads […]

Leave a Reply