Being able to sew a narrow hem is a great basic sewing skill to know. In this post I will teach you two different ways to sew a narrow hem. A narrow hem is also called a rolled hem, takes precision to sew, and it’s perfect for lightweight fabrics.

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How to Sew a Narrow Hem //

What is a Narrow Hem?

A narrow hem or a rolled hem is a really tiny hem perfect for lightweight fabrics. Rolled hems look professional and would be impossible to hem like regular double fold hems. I sew rolled hems two different ways, and they each have their time to be used.

I will say that it is not the fastest technique, but it looks really good. It’s used by professionals, but it’s easy enough for anyone to sew.

You can buy a special foot to sew rolled hems, but I find them difficult to use. They take a long time to learn and getting used to, and I found even after I learned that I would still have to unpick a part of every hem I did.

You will see a narrow hem on any lightweight material, sheer or not. It’s perfect for high low hems since it looks good on the outside and on the inside. It’s also used a lot on formal dresses.

How to Sew a Narrow Hem when constructing clothing

1. Sew a straight line along the bottom edge. Sew 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch from the edge or at the hem line given in the pattern.

How to Sew a Narrow Hem //

2. Iron the hem allowance up towards the inside of the garment on the stitched line.

How to Sew a Narrow Hem //

3. Trim the fold down to 1/8 inch with scissors. Be careful not to cut into the garment. I like to use duckbill scissors* for this step because it helps prevent cutting holes in the wrong place.

How to Sew a Narrow Hem //

Don’t worry about the cut line being perfectly straight.

How to Sew a Narrow Hem //

4. Fold the hem up one more time and iron it.

5. Stitch in between the two folds to enclose the raw edges.

How to Sew a Narrow Hem //

6. If you have a corner then do each narrow hem separately: one first and then the other.

How to Sew a Narrow Hem //

How to Sew a Narrow Hem when altering

I use this method whenever I’m altering a finished garment. I most often use it when hemming a garment for a client like this wedding dress where I added a front godet.

1. Put your dress or skirt on and mark where you want your hem to be. DO NOT CUT IT. Mark with your favorite marking tool.

2. Fold the marked line with the hem allowance towards the back. Sew 1/8 inch from the fold in matching thread through both layers of fabric.

You will have a some excess on one side of the hem. This is what it looks like looking at the inside of the dress.

3. Trim the excess fabric off as close to the stitching as possible. Be very careful not to cut into the other side!

Don’t worry if the trimming is uneven because it won’t be seen.

4. Roll the fabric towards the inside of the garment and enclose the raw edge. Sew 1/8 inch from the fold. Overlap the stitches so that stitches lock.

5. Press your beautiful rolled hem.


I used a narrow hem on my pleated Harper skirt to have an overlay that looked nice when it moved. If you make something using this tutorial, I’d love to see! Please share it on social media with the hashtag #heatherhandmade and tag me! 

How to Sew a Narrow Hem //

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Author: Heather Handmade

I'm a seamstress and mother. I sew, blog, thrift, upcycle, design fabric, and teach sewing classes. I'm also a self-proclaimed fabric fondler.

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14 thoughts on “How To Sew A Narrow Hem

  1. Your technique was really helpful. Thank you so much.

    Posted on February 28, 2017 at 1:03 am
  2. Heather…I am working on a prom gown of stretch material. Would you make any technique modifications? Thank you

    Posted on April 21, 2015 at 2:56 am
  3. Heather, does this method do nicely on satin as well? Thank you.

    Posted on April 13, 2015 at 3:33 pm
    1. Yes! I've used it on all types of woven fabrics with great results!

      Posted on April 13, 2015 at 6:55 pm
  4. Thank you so much!

    Posted on February 11, 2014 at 12:09 pm
  5. this is one of the most helpful tutorials I have seen!! I have always wondered how people get the perfect finish on the rolled hem, specially on flowing fabrics! It was driving me crazy thinking of doing the rolled hem by a rough hand stitch first and getting it right..I am definitely gonna try this out 🙂

    Posted on December 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm
  6. So you fold it, sew it, fold it again and sew it again? All folds to the inside of the garment?

    Posted on November 3, 2012 at 4:57 am
    1. Yes this is right. Don't forget to trim the seam allowance after the first folding and sewing.

      Posted on November 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm
  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can't purchase my special foot yet, but I want to get started so this is just what I needed. Thanks again!

    Posted on October 12, 2012 at 11:09 am
  8. Excellent tutorial! Your way is soooo much simpler… especially since you don't cut until after you sew… makes it so much easier to hold onto the fabric! Thanks for sharing this tip…

    Posted on July 8, 2012 at 11:25 pm
  9. You are a life saver! I made a deal with my mom, if I hem her skirts that are to long she's iron my families laundry. I took her first skirt home with me and could not figure out how to get a nice rolled hem, I really hope I can figure this out, I did already cut it so I guess I'll just have to make it a little shorter? Just found you blog today, LOVE it!

    Posted on July 8, 2012 at 6:13 am
  10. Mm hm. Sometimes I wonder why we have to make it so much harder for ourselves.
    Great tip!

    Posted on July 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm
  11. I will definitely be using this trick – thanks!

    Posted on July 7, 2012 at 1:50 am
  12. That is FANTASTIC! So much easier! Thank you :)))

    Posted on July 7, 2012 at 1:01 am