How To Sew A Narrow Hem

The narrow hem makes a perfect hemming technique when it comes to fine fabrics and spherical shapes. Chiffon, linens, and silks are some examples. However, for heavy materials, it becomes a less ideal form. It is also called rolled hem (so don’t be confused in case!).

Sewing a narrow hem may seem complicated, but not until you master the tricks. It requires some further steps to ensure a seamless and precise finish. You can use it for sewing the gorgeous dresses, shirts, kimonos, and any sheer fabrics.

Perhaps you have stacks of hemming projects to do. Luckily, you are not only limited to manual procedures. Learn what your options are with this guide and be ready to save your day!

How to Sew a Narrow Hem?

You can sew a narrow hem with a machine or by hand. Either use a unique hemmer foot or serger. Machines are considered the quickest and easiest way to stitch the narrow hem. But whichever method, you are guaranteed to make professional-looking, attractive hems. It all depends on which accompanies your interest most.

How Sew a Narrow Hem by Hand?

A narrow hem allows you to have absolute control over the stitches you’re going to make. Thus, ensuring clean angles and finishes.

Step 1: Sew 1/4 inch ahead of the edge. Trim the fabric by around 1/8-1/4 inch from the edge. It’s essential so you can maintain a steady and smooth roll.

Step 2: Thread the needle. Tie a trickle of knots at each thread’s end.

Step 3: Pop in the needle in the fabric corner side. Push it close on the corner of the material you’re stitching. The knot must be concealed after folding over the fabric and finishing the first few stitches.

Step 4: Now, fold-down the fabric edge by around 1/8 inch. You don’t have to use pins to anchor it. Crease the material instead. Use an iron for pressing the edge.

Step 5: It’s time to make a narrow hem. Start by inserting the needle in the fabric nearly under the raw edge. Bring it up and above the creased edge. Then, prepare to insert the needle close to the end of the edge.

Step 6: Next, insert the needle near enough to the upper edge of the fold. Turn back through the bottom again as soon as you finish getting through the top. Continue making the pattern for 3-5 stitches.

Step 7: Lightly pull the thread to tauten stitches. Gentle enough to avoid wrinkles and pulls from ruining your finished output. The stitches should have no gaps too. It will let you draw two edges and therefore create a narrow hem.

Step 8: Repeat the process several times as needed to sew your whole project. Some prefer trussing off the thread at all corners and start creating a new piece for all sides. But again, it depends on personal preference.

How to Sew Narrow Hem with A Sewing Machine

For a much faster sewing method, nothing beats a machine (clearly!). It is useful if you have tons of hemming fabrics geared up.

1. Sew Narrow Hem with A Regular Sewing Machine

Step 1: Before starting, make sure the fabric edge is not tattered. Since regular sewing machines cannot cut fabrics, you have to rely on a pair of sharp scissors.

Step 2: Sew around a one-centimetre row of stitches from the hem. It will serve as your folding guide. The layer of fabric will be fastened, so it may not be necessary to overcast the edges.

Step 3: Make the fabric evenly flat by pressing it over.

Step 4: Fold once again to form a narrow hem. Also, use the fabric edge as your guide.

Step 5: Now, it’s stitching time! Try sewing near enough the fold. Doing so will allow you to get a neat seam. But sometimes, the fold appears slightly uneven. In such a case, sew pretty clear of the edge so the hem can get the whole fold.

Step 6: Give a decent press, and you’re all set!

2. Sew Narrow Hem with A Serger

The sewing machine and serger are entirely different machines. Serger sews and binds the fabric together, though it can also cut the fabric. It is what a regular sewing machine is devoid of. You need to cut the fabric first (manually) before sewing it.

Step 1: Using a serger machine, sew around the hem. Trim off the slightest amount only from the edge.

Step 2: Fold over to the corner or wrong side at the breadth of the stitches. Either fold and stitch or press over before sewing. Any of these will work.

Step 3: Begin stitching near the folded hem to create a straight stitch.

Step 4: Turn over the edge once more. Then, stitch above the first row of stitching.

Step 5: Give it also a good press, and you are completely done!

3. Sew Narrow Hem with A Hemmer Foot/Rolled Hemmer

Typical sewing machines and sergers can do easy and fast narrow hem sewing. That’s for sure. But for a lot easier and quicker narrow hem sewing, you may want to try rolled hemmer too. Using it, you no longer need to press or make extra sewing rows. All thanks to the curled channel.

Step 1: Begin by pressing the edge to the wrong side of the fabric. However, be sure to maintain a regular width. Place a pin to keep in check.

Step 2: Lower the hemmer foot and with the handwheel, create some stitches. Now, take off the pin.

Step 3: Continue stitching and feeding your fabric in the funnel. Hold it tightly without any chances of pulling it.

It is essential to stitch in a slow step. Work on as small parts as possible – around three to four inches. Also, be sure to use both your hands when guiding the fabric. Your left hand should be the one handling your material to ensure it’s going straight under the foot. In contrast, your right hand will keep an accurate distance for the layer allowance raw edge.

There you have our narrow hem sewing methods. They may look easy, mostly the manual or hand sewing. You just need proper practice and eventually be a pro!

Tips for Sewing Delicate Fabrics

Have these bonus tips to make your project sewingly wonderful!

  • Some people deal with twisted seams when sewing a narrow hem over thin fabrics. It is unavoidable in most cases. But the good news, you can prevent it from giving you more frustration. You can use a sharp tool, such as awl, to carefully thrust the fabric’s external seam regularly. It will additionally curb your material when using two rows of stitches.
  • You don’t necessarily have to use an iron for folding the fabric. Other objects will do the job, like a bone crease or wood. These are ideal for lightweight materials. Hard objects may also fill in as creases. Perhaps a cap, coin, or anything.
  • Some people have a big issue tying the knot after securing the thread to the fabric. You may notice a small nub that puts pressure in the fabric holes and wears it out. Beginning sewers may specifically deal with this. The best alternative is to anchor the thread through tiny stitches resting on each other.

Why Do Thin Fabrics Tend to Get a Bit Wavy or Oblique When Making Straight Stitches?

It is a common issue and perhaps has been confusing you for quite some time. Straight stitches require an adequate amount of thickness to make a twist ultimately. Thin fabrics, unfortunately, lack this thickness. You can fix the problem by sewing through a water-solvable stabilizing paper. A more delicate thread may also work.

What Size of Hem Foot Should I Use?

Use 2mm hem foot to do straight stitches. Mostly ideal for fabrics that are lightweight like silk and batiste. While doing straight, patterned, or zig-zag stitches, use 5mm hem foot. It is excellent for lightweight to medium fabrics like calico. Lastly, lightweight elastic materials should be in 3mm hem foot. Use on challis, lingerie, or other soft fabrics.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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