Creating Custom Trim

Dress is finally finished and I’m very happy with the finished result. I’ve also posted the progress of this dress on a few private Facebook groups and have many requests for detailed instructions explaining how I created the trim.

First, here’s some photos of the finishing details. Rather than attach the lining at the armseye seam, I took a tip from Valentino (this technique is often used) and bound the armseye of the lining with narrow bias cut from the silk crepe de chine. French tacks keep the lining in place and allow for easy movement. A thin shoulder pad is also covered with silk crepe.

Gutermann gimp and silk twist for loads of handworked buttonholes. I’ve read that Gutermann no longer produces gimp but I’ve managed to find a supply so click on the link if you’re interested. It does help produce very professional buttonholes.

Trim: here’s my process for creating this braid to match the boucle fabric. Finding this pre-made would have been impossible so there was no choice but to invent. I started with orange, turquoise and lilac silk double georgette. Cut bias strips 1.5 inches wide. Tissue paper is an immense help in taming slippery, stretchy silk. I put a layer of tissue on the cutting mat; tape in place. Place first layer of silk on top, square the grain and tape in place. A second layer of tissue paper next. Then the second color of silk. Another layer of tissue; third color of silk. Interesting that the turquoise and lilac silk ripped cleanly on the crossgrain but the orange refused to do so. All were ordered from Emma One Sock who carries a wide range of colors. A final layer of tissue paper covers all. A rotary cutter allows cutting without moving any of the layers but you can use loads of pins and scissors. I use my collection of antique irons to hold everything down.

Fold the bias strips in half and stitch a scant 1/4 inch away from the folded edge. Trim the seam allowance to about 3/16 inch and turn the tube right side out. A narrow brass hollow rod makes turning the narrow tube easier. I thread a large tapestry needle with sturdy thread. Take a stitch in one end of the fabric tube. Drop the threaded needed through the brass rod and pull gently. The fabric tube will easily turn right side out as it passes through the rod. I don’t try and make trim in one long length for the entire dress. I’ll do the hem in one length, another for collar and maybe one pocket, a third length for other pocket and sleeve hems. Pin the fabric tube to your ironing surface, pull gently and steam. You want to stretch the fabric and create a narrow tube of fabric. Try and keep the seam from twisting.

Thread the turned tubes of fabric back onto the metal tube. Using the tapestry needle, attach thread to a length of yarn (worsted weight wool yarn is soft and springy; works well). Pull on the thread to pass the yarn through the tube. Pull both fabric and yarn together to create a tube of silk fabric filled with yarn. The yarn adds a little loft and volume to the fabric but is still light and flexible. The goal is to keep the trim soft and easy to shape.

The brass tubes are similar to another product: Fasturn tubes, available on Amazon. The Fasturn tubes have larger sizes but I needed tiny tubes for this. I’ve sourced the tubes in sizes from 3/32 inch to 8/32 (1/4) and may offer the set if there is sufficient interest. Set of 6 tubes would include 3/32, 4/32, 5/32, 6/32, 7/32 and 8/32 inch. I used the 7/32 size for this project and have additional trim tutorials in the works which utilize more sizes. Let me know in comments if you’re interested.

Secure ends of three strands (one of each color) with a short machine stitch. Use a standard three strand pattern to braid the strands together. Secure the ends with machine stitching.

Next I added a row of single crochet along both sides of the braid. Make a slip knot in the yarn. Insert into a loop of braid. Make single crochet. Single crochet in each loop of braid. I created custom lengths of braid for pockets, sleeve hems, collar and lower hem. Start a couple of inches short of the length you need. Crochet to where you want the braid to end. Make two single crochet stitches in the same loop of braid; that will form a corner. Rotate the braid and make one single crochet along the short side, then two single crochet stitches in the loop on other side of braid for the second corner. Work down the opposite side. Double check you have the desired length, turn another corner and work back to starting point. Joining the yarn along the straight edge is easier and less conspicuous than doing it at a corner. Overlap the yarn and secure with regular sewing thread and small stitches.

To complete, chain stitch around using metallic thread. Keep the chain stitches fairly loose. I’ve attached a couple of videos. This actually takes longer to describe than to do. The first video demonstrates how to add the single crochet border; second video the chain stitch. Note that the chain stitch is done through only one loop of the underlying row.

More custom trim coming. Thanks for watching.

64 thoughts on “Creating Custom Trim”

  1. Thank you so very much for sharing your skill. I am a novice and have such admiration for your abilities. We need more inspiration during these dark days especially – thank you for sharing your gifts!

    Tracey Stockton

  2. Love your final garment Mary. I was surprised by the finishing of the sleeve lining, but will use that for my next jacket. I have all the materials except the trim so I am interested in learning more about you set of narrow brass rods.

  3. Mary, your posts are always a treat. Love your style of teaching and of design. What a beautiful dress in every way. You make creating the trim seem within reach. I love the matte of georgette. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  4. Your work is beautiful! I would be interested in a set of the narrow brass tubes. I currently use straws. If they are not narrow enough I use a long bodkin. Neither are very satisfactory. Thx for sharing.

    1. Thank you. I’ve also tried plastic straws and had the same issue. Straws aren’t narrow enough and tend to bend. Hence the need to find a better solution.

  5. Gorgeous design and work Mary, I love this style.
    I am particularly intrigued by the finishing details you’ve shown at the armscye…As I am getting closer to tackling such fine aspects in sleeve details in my own work, I definitely will be looking at this work more closely as I find it interesting to see such a method of finishing an armsceye. How does it feel when wearing it compared to when the sleeve lining is attached to the armscye?
    I’ve yet to make the arms for my dress form, but all is ready to be sewn together! These will be a must once I enter into sleeve-land : )

    Take care,

  6. Hi Mary, Your work is always both stunning and inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing your vast experience and techniques with us.

    I have some Linton waiting to be made up and this post could not have come at a better time.

    Your dress is truly beautiful.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

      1. Mary, Meant to say I am interested in the brass turner’s, but wonder if you ship to the UK. Buying from the USA can be very expensive with incoming taxes and postage… However, this is a treat worth having.

      2. I’m in the process of getting these ready for sale. I’ll let you know when I have shipping weight and dimensions. Always happy to try and work out the least expensive shipping option.

  7. Mary your generosity in showing us these skills and techniques is really something . If everyone was like you the world would be a lovely and very clever place 😉

  8. Stunning jacket and trim! Your posts are so inspiring for me to keep learning. I too am interested in the brass tubes. BTW, per your recommendation, I recently purchased Osnaburg from Joann’s for muslins & really like it. Following several of your blog posts, I finished my moulage and padding my form. Now the fun starts — learning to drape and hopefully, much easier & quicker fitting. Thank you so much.

  9. Thank you, Mary, for your kindness and love that you show to others in sharing your extensive knowledge and craftsmanship. Your garments are a treasure to behold and truly gorgeous. I learn so much from you! I cannot thank you enough for sharing your love of sewing. Hetty

  10. Mary, The dress is just beautiful and all of your tips are great. I would love to purchase a set of brass tubes — how do I do that? Thanks! Terryl

    1. They are available now in the shop. There is a link which will take you directly to the page to order. Look for “set of brass tubes” above the first photo of the tube case. Click on that. Let me know if you have difficulty finding them. Thank you.

  11. Hi Mary, I am working on a Chanel type jacket and have been unsuccessful at finding any trim. Not sure how I found you but your trim is perfect. I bought my silks and am ready. I’m not sure I understand how you got the Yarn inside but I will play around and hopefully figure it out. Thank you so much. I have looked at your older posts with such happiness to have discovered you and your amazing talent. Thanks for sharing. The sleeve detail blew me away and, of course, the trim. Yes interested in the tubes, I have large ones.

    1. Thanks for your compliments. I’ll do another post soon on making and filling fabric tubes for use in trim. I’m teaching classes via Zoom for individuals and groups. The trim tubes are available in the shop and I’m always happy to answer questions via email. Happy you found the blog helpful in planning your jacket.

  12. I love your dress and the trim is FANTASTIC! I’m going to do something very similar on a jacket I’ll make soon. I wonder if there’s an error in your instructions for cut width of the silk crepe. The instruction is to cut 1.5″ width but the pictures look more like you started with a 1″ width. Will you please check that size and let me know?

    1. I checked my directions. The bias strip of silk georgette will stretch and narrow quite a bit, hence the need to start with a 1.5” wide strip. Note that the excess is trimmed away after stitching close to the folded edge. If your fabric is more stable, then you could experiment with 1” wide bias strips to start. The wider strip simply makes the fabric easier to handle. Thanks for reading and I’m thrilled that you are inspired to create similar trim.

      1. That makes sense. I wondered if it could have stretched. Thanks for being so interactive on your blog.

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