Rolled Hem – Problems

Rolled Hem Problems


Pokies, fringe, or whiskers are the little threads that stick out when doing a rolled hem. This can usually be fixed by doing some minor adjustments on your tensions or moving the blade over. There are times when no matter what you do to adjust your machine nothing works. This could be due to the type of fabric being used.

Some problem fabrics are cotton and polyester blend, loosely woven fabrics such as sheers and netting. These fabrics do not make a great fabric for doing a rolled hem. In this case there are a couple of other things to try to remedy this problem.

There are many variables to be considered. How is your fabric cut? True bias, partial bias, cross-grain, lengthwise? There is a varied assortment of fabrics and blends, the kind of thread being used. There may not be just one answer but many and you will have to practice on scrap fabrics to see which one works best for that fabric.

One more problem is a rolled hem pulling away from the fabric. If after trying several adjustments and nothing seems to work. See if one of the other alternatives help.


The first step to eliminate pokies is to try adjusting your machine.

Increase the cutting width on your machine. This will help as the machine is rolling more fabric under and into the rolled hem. The wider the stitch, the more fabric there is to stitch. The width adjustment is the distance between the needle and the knife. The wider the adjustment, the more fabric is stitched. The smaller the cutting width, the less fabric will be incorporated into the stitch.

Increase stitch length. This will give a denser stitch and more coverage.


If your rolled hem comes off edge of fabric, try decreasing stitch length that gives the thread less coverage and less perforation. You can change the needles to a smaller size that will make smaller holes in the fabric.

If the edge puckers, your needle is too tight and needs to be loosened. If the Needle is too loose a V forms on the underside.


If your sample still has too much fabric poking through the stitches, lay a strip of Stabilizer over the top edge to be serged. When you serge the rolled hem stitch, the Stabilizer will help stiffen the fabric as the fabric is rolled under. This will help stop the fibers from poking out.

There are several different types of stabilizers that can be used to help control rolled hem problems.

There is Fusable Stabilizer, Tear-Away Stabilizer, and Water Soluable Stablizer.

The Fusible Stabilizer gets ironed on to the fabric and is permanent.

The Tear-Away Stabilizer gets sewn into the fabric and the excess is then torn away.

The Water Soluble Stabilizer will dissolve when placed in water.


Starch is another medium that can be used for stiffing a fabric edge. Starch restores body and sizing after the fabric has washed but also stiffens the fabric. Starch helps eliminate the fraying edges making them smooth and crisp. Be sure to test a sample of fabric before starching and pressing as some fabrics such as lace or tulle burn easily.

When spraying starch on your fabric, be sure to read the directions on the can. Spray an even light spraying of starch on the fabric. Give it time to penetrate the fabric before ironing, 1 to 2 minutes. As heat is applied to the fabric the starch dries, leaving the fabric stiff. It is best to apply starch 2 to 3 times then one heavy spraying as this will help prevent starch build up on both the fabric and the iron.

Ironing vs. Pressing

Be very careful when pressing that you PRESS and not iron. Ironing stretches the fabric and can cause it to be pulled out of shape as you are ironing back and forth. It also helps to use a pressing cloth made out of 100% cotton.


The use of a fabric sealant will also help stop the fraying of the fabric’s edge. Put a light beading on the edge of the fabric and allow it to dry, following the manufactures instructions. The fabric sealant will penetrate the fabric and when serged, the knife blade will cut most of the sealant off, leaving very few if any fringe or pokies sticking out of your rolled hem.


Double stitching or going over the edge twice should cover the edge completely. This may be necessary if using standard thread rather then textureized (woolly) nylon. Make sure that when going over a second time you do not cut your first stitches.

This creates a double layer that you may find too stiff or thick for your particular application. Be sure to do a test on scrap fabric before deciding on this technique.

If necessary, two threads can be used in the upper looper at the same time. This will offer better coverage if wanting to use some of the more decorative threads.


Woolly Nylon now comes in “Extra” Woolly Nylon. Extra Woolly Nylon is 3 times heavier then the woolly nylon we area so familiar with. The Extra Woolly Nylon offers more coverage with a heavier edge,


Press a narrow hem in what is to have a rolled edge. You will need to disengage the blade or be careful not to cut any of the fabric edge while serging. This pressed folded edge will give you a smooth edge that will be rolled under. Make sure that the fold is face down on the serger.

Make sure when pressing that the folded over fabric does not exceed the width of the rolled hem. The idea is to catch the raw edge under the thread. If there is any fabric not caught, you may have to do some careful trimming.

Polyester needs a pressing cloth so as not to melt the fabric. I find it easier to pin folded in place, cover with a pressing cloth and then press.