Narrow hem tutorial: how to make a narrow hem

using Ban Roll

In this tutorial I am going to show you how to hem chiffon and other slippery lightweight fabric. Is hemming chiffon one of those things you would avoid doing? Well, there is one interesting method of making ultra-neat narrow hems on chiffon dresses and skirts that is not very popular yet but the result looks really professional and can be achieved quite fast.

Here is the narrow hem – do you see any curling, stretching, fraying, warping? Of course not! And look – the width of the hem is the same all over.

Similar result can be achieved with a rolled hem foot but I never had luck with this foot. It especially gets tricky at corners and at the beginning and end of hemming. A lot of times the fabric will slip out and I have to re-sew a section.

So I am using Ban Roll (ban-rol) tape. Did you hear about it? I can tell you that everybody is writing the word differently.

What exactly is this Ban Roll?

It is a kind of waistband interfacing tape which is very stiff (looks like highly starched) that won’t curl or roll and is crush-proof. They say that it’s made of 58% nylon/ 17% rayon/ 15% polyester/ 10% thermoplastic resin but it’s woven quite loosely. It’s mostly used in sewing waistbands to make them rigid and keep their shape. The width of the tape can vary. You can see very clearly threads that form the tape interlacing to one another at right angles. The threads can be easily peeled away to make a frayed edge that will be pulled out after stitching.

Where to buy the Ban Roll tape?

I never saw it in small local sewing shops, I bought mine in a Canadian store – Fabricland – but after that I found it on Amazon. So here is an affiliate link if you decide to buy it for hemming chiffon. I am pretty sure you will need it if you sew garments from silk. It will revolutionize your sewing skills.

Here are the steps how to use the Ban Roll tape for making narrow hems

FYI – if you prefer a video tutorial go to my YouTube channel to see the video about making a narrow hem with Ban Roll.

Step 1. Prepare a piece of Ban Roll tape for making the narrow hem

Measure your hem length and cut a piece of Ban Roll tape a little bit longer than your hem. Cut the very edge thread of the tape lengthwise – just one thread at the edge where it’s woven a little tighter than other threads.

Using a pin or a seam ripper pull out a few threads lengthwise – it can be 3-5 threads (it depends on how wide you want to make your hem). The threads going across the tape have to be pulled out while the threads on the downside of the tape are left to form the frayed effect. The width of the frayed edge will be equal to the width of your hem.

Step 2.  Place the Ban Roll on the fabric

Place the prepared Ban Roll on the right side of the fabric aligning the frayed edge with the edge of the fabric. Use special pins for silk fabric – they are very thin and sharp and will not make any holes in the delicate silk chiffon.

You don’t need to place the tape at the very edge of the fabric though. You can keep some distance from the fabric edge (like ¼ or even ⅜ inch) if you want to make sure that stitches will catch the chiffon fabric, but later you will need to trim off the excess fabric.

Place the Ban Roll all around the hem and when you come to the starting point overlap it a little bit ( that’s why we cut it a little longer ).

Step 3.   Stitch over the frayed edge of Ban Roll

Stitch over the frayed edge along the length of the hem making sure you don’t catch any lengthwise threads that are not frayed.

Stitch length should be 3.5 – 4 mm, and I usually put tension to 0 on my sewing machine because I will take out these stitches later.

Perhaps you will be interested in my other useful tutorials if you like to sew. Check two of them below!

Step 4.  Sew the hem

Flip the fabric over the Ban Roll and sew the hem. The narrow hem is wrapped around the frayed part of the Ban Roll.

You can press the hem before the stitching but I prefer to skip this pressing because it works well without. But once the stitching is finished, press the hem with the Ban Roll still inside the hem.

Step 5.  Remove the Ban Roll

Remove the Ban Roll by carefully pulling it out. Remove also the first stitches (that helped to keep the Ban Roll in place) and press the hem again.

Enjoy your newly created perfectly narrow hem!

Don’t throw away the tape – the good thing is that you can use the prepared tape over and over again for hemming other garments. Put it aside for the next time you need it. Or make a few reusable “templates” for different hem widths and lengths.

This method also does corners really beautifully! It can be used not only for straight hems but for slightly curved.

So, what do you think about this amazing technique? Now all you need is a source for the Ban Roll tape.

Here is an affiliate link where you can buy it.

Watch the video tutorial below

Did you like this guide? If you want to save it for future reference and to use it later when you are ready to make a narrow hem, pin the image below or the first image of this article to your sewing board on Pinterest and follow me on Pinterest for more tips, tutorials, and inspiration.

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  1. Trish


    Look forward to trying out easier ways to finish a project

    • Olga Balasa

      Thank you! Did you try it out? How did it go?

  2. Judy

    Love the concept, but not quite sure how this can work.

    I see how I could visually make sure in Step 3 that the stitches aren’t catching the Ban Rol tape fibers.

    But how can I avoid accidentally catching some Ban Rol fibers in Step 4 when the frayed edge is hidden inside?

    Very creative idea, thank you for sharing.

    • Olga Balasa

      Thank you for your feedback! The width of the narrow hem is equal the width of the frayed edge. You sew over the frayed edge – don’t be afraid to catch the Ban Rol fibers, that’s the point, that’s why we frayed that edge so we can easily take it out. You have to worry about not catching the part of the Ban Rol that is NOT frayed – and this you can easily see. I hope it helps.

    • Shera

      I can not get the ban roll to Frey they way you show bits very difficult

      • Olga Balasa

        Sorry to hear about your problem. I guess there are different types of ban rolls. Where did you buy it? Mine was very easy to fray.

  3. Debra Salish

    Hi, thanks for the great tutorial, however when you flipped over the sample some of the stitches were not formed, with very long unlocked portions. Is this because of pulling out the unneeded thread?

    Also would like to know what sewing machine you are using in this video. Thank you!

    • Olga Balasa

      Thank you Debra! All stitches were formed nicely though. I think you are referring to the first stitch which is a basting stitch “Stitch length should be 3.5 – 4 mm, and I usually put tension to 0 on my sewing machine because I will take out these stitches later“. In the end I pull out the bobbin thread and the needle thread is becoming undone (so I can easily take it out). I hope it helps. As for the sewing machine , I use Janome Memory Craft 6600P – I just love the machine. If you want to get more info on it here is the link

  4. AlyK

    I wish I had seen this before making my dress and sheer embroidered overlay kimono for my daughter’s wedding! I had a heckofa time getting the overlay material to cooperate; but, it turned out well (after a LOT of coaxing).

    • Olga Balasa

      Thank you! I am happy to hear my tutorial is useful. I know hemming sheers can be a pain and it’s really time-consuming. Now you can use this method for hemming new dresses, it’s much faster. Do you sew a lot with sheers?

  5. Linda

    Does this work with other fabrics, e.g. linen, cotton blends, etc.?

    • Olga Balasa

      It does work with any lightweight to medium weight fabric but I guess it should work with any woven fabric. I didn’t try though, somehow I make a narrow hem only on silk, and on linen and cotton, I just make a regular 1.5″ hem, I don’t like the narrow hem on linen and cotton, it looks bulky to me. I don’t use this method on knits also – the knit hem should be stretchy. I hope it helps.

  6. Iris

    This is a technique I will definitely use for the costumes I am sewing. Thank you.

    • Olga Balasa

      Thank you!

      • Ruth

        I have watched a lot of your teaching tapes. They help me understand what is possible with my sewing. I study very hard your way of doing things. Thank you, you will hear from me again. I just started sewing.

        • Olga Balasa

          Thank you for your sweet note, Ruth! If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. I may not answer right away, but still, I will try to get back to you.

  7. Sandy Cole

    How would you do corners if you are hemming a square?


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