Friday, June 19, 2015

Sewing loop braid to wool sheers

Applying heavy trims to lightweight sheers requires special handling.  The weight alone can pull on the fabric, and the stitching can create puckering.  When I was asked to apply this loop braid to 10 lead edges of this wool sheer, I knew it would take some painstaking sewing to achieve an impeccable look.
 At the proposal stage of this project, designer Christopher Matson asked me, "Can you REALLY sew this trim to this fabric and make it look fantastic?  Or are you just saying yes to make me happy?"  I said Yes I Can!  because a few years ago I had made these wool blend curtains with this loop braid, and had used this method.

The first step was to cut the fabric true to the grain.  To do that, you pull a thread of the weave across the width and cut following that line.  For the length, I carefully removed the selvedges to let the weave of the fabric relax.  Such a fine fabric as this is always woven to perfection, so once the cuts were made, I was confident that the grainline was a reliable reference point.
Next I laid out the fabric and trim to see how much I needed to fold over the side borders in order to fully cover the stitching.
Pressing the side borders ahead of time gave me the line for applying the trim.  Pressing was easy because the gridded table cover shows through the sheer.  It was critical to keep the vertical line neat and true, so that there would be no little hairs of threads showing at the lead edge when the light shone through.
After pressing, I flipped the panel over right sides up and laid out the trim.
I tried sewing at that point, but it was impossible: the fabric was too shifty and the trim too rigid.  I decided to glue baste it with tiny dots of Rowley's fringe adhesive.  It needed only a few minutes to set up so the fabric could be moved.
Now it was ready for the painstaking process of sewing.
We tried various ways to sew invisibly.  The most efficient and secure was to pick the needle up in one of the points and back down on the other side of a cord.  That made stitches that were about 1/2".  We made sure to keep them quite loose on the back to eliminate puckering.
After awhile we realized we could hold the fabric in one hand rather than keep it flat on the table.  That speeded up the sewing significantly.  We did two rows of stitching on each lead edge.
At the ends, we had this mess to deal with.
When the hem was turned up, the trim wanted to crimp the fabric.
We solved that by cinching the loops on the back as necessary, to remove their pressure on the delicate fabric.
It was all covered up with the side hem.  The bottoms were neat and flat.
The last step was to sew the already pressed side borders, being careful to conceal the stitching behind the trim so it wouldn't show on the front.  Here's the back.


  1. We you tempted to apply the trim after sewing the side hems, and catching a couple layers of fabric instead of just the face? Especially since the fabric is fine and the trim heavy? If you tried it, did it pull too much.

    Honestly, Deborah, you need to write a book! You are way too good at writing and showing directions not to....

  2. No Frances I didn't even consider that. I focused on keeping the grain straight and keeping the tension loose on the hand stitching. The wool, though fine, is incredibly sturdy and strong. I'm not sure but, as you speculated, I think sewing the trim to multiple layers would have encouraged distortion. I should test that with the scraps. Thanks for the nice complement! A book- sounds like fun!