Getting all Couture-y – A Hand-Rolled Hem

There are lots of options for finishing the free edge of a flounce, but not all of them I like.  Sometimes the inside needs to look as neat as the outside.  For my current project, OK – one of my current projects, the one in emerald silk georgette, I’m getting all couture-y and sewing a hand rolled hem.  I like the finished effect which is invisible from the right side, and and visible only as a fine edge on the reverse:

It’s a little fiddly, and at one hour per flounce it would multiply the cost tenfold from a garment costing perspective, but this one’s just for me.  Plus it means I have a reason not to go outside and do the paint-stripping! 
I did it like this: 
I found it easiest to hold the edge like so – with my thumb folding the edge of the chiffon over slightly, and my outer fingers holding the other end with a slight tension:
Pick up one thread, and then the edge of the fold with the needle, here’s a closer look:
I’ve taken a bit much of the fold here, it’s best to take a bit less than this
and draw the needle and thread through:

You can do one stitch at a time, or stitch a few:
and then draw up the thread – as you do the fabric rolls over nicely to form a hem enclosing the raw edge and  your thread:
You can leave the hem rolled or press it flat- and I’m not sure which way is ‘correct”.  Rolled it gives a bit of body, but I pressed mine flat as I found the edge of the georgette draped better.  It is going to be the edge of the flounce on this top from Burda August 2009 so it needs to drape symmetrically, hopefully:
I’ve cut the whole top double thickness with the hem on the fold, and I think I will just bag the whole lot out. This is a good top to use up this fabric remnant that I’ve had for a long time – ex bridesmaids dresses 2005 to be precise! 
Have any of you already made this one?  Or the long sleeve version?
By the way I’ve made a new rule:  If I use up two pieces of stash, I’m allowed to buy one new piece of fabric.  How coincidental convenient that I’ve seen something I simply must have!
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I'm a designer/patternmaker who loves to share my sewing knowledge with others! Follow me as I sew my personal projects, sharing my favourite tricks of the trade along the way.

20 thoughts on “Getting all Couture-y – A Hand-Rolled Hem

  1. That looks lovely. I don't think I have the patience myself, but good for you!

    I have seen this pattern made up a few times and can't quite decide whether to make it for myself. Have you checked PR for reviews? I like the flounce, but otherwise, the pattern has little shape, so I have wondered if it is only good for twigs? Or maybe it needs to be tucked in? Your chosen colour is gorgeous.

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  2. I really like the look of this. It looks so neat and clean and there's not any sort of heavy hem to weigh down the ruffle. I'm not sure I'd ever actually do it– maybe for something really special. I'm mentally bookmarking it.

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  3. Thank you for this. I've failed at curved, silk edges about 2 or 3 times. I'll mark this and if I ever get the guts up again to do a hand rolled hem, will read this before starting 🙂

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  4. Thank you for the thoughtful progression of pictures. Very timely as I am hemming my silk slip project today (hopefully) and plan to roll the hem.

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  5. OMG! That rolled hem reminds me on my apprenticeship 30(!) years ago. My forewomans (right word?) hobby was silk painting and I always had to make these rolled hems of her silk scarfs. 😉
    I am surprised that you are using all these old techniques which are exactly those I learned. Today I am interested in sewing faster and I adore my serger very much! :-)))
    Anyway – you really make lovely clothes which are always sewn well.

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  6. If you have a fabric that won't hold needle marks, I'd do a machine rolled hem in a basting stitch and then start this process. Just from experience with the difference in hand/wrist pain between a basted piece and holding the rolls as you work.

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