Matching Plaid; Making a Lapped, Fringed Seam
|Today on Sew Much More, Susan Khalje welcomes fiber artist Helen
Saunders, who shares seaming techniques for a pieced coat. She
demonstrates a number of decorative stitching techniques:
matching plaids; making a lapped, fringed seam; making a slot
seam; embellishing with a double-piped seam and a couched seam;
and making rope piping.
The coat comprises five fabrics: two plaids, two solids and a
paisley print. In order to make visual sense of the various
fabrics, Helen Saunders has decided to use six different
seaming techniques to join them and provide transition
between the colors and patterns.
- Coat pattern of your choice
- Variable yardage depending on section of coat
- Cords and pipings
- Hand-sewing needles
In order to match a plaid as you cut, Saunders recommends
cutting a single layer of fabric at a time.
Here's how she matches her plaids perfectly:
- To match plaids, first match raw edges, right sides
together. Position the fabric as it would be if you were
going to machine-stitch a traditional 5/8" seam.
- Starting at the top of the seam, fold back the top
allowance 5/8" (figure A). Match the first stripe or
horizontal line in the plaid, and pin the folded seam
allowance to the flat seam allowance. Continue this
process the length of the seam. If the seam is on the
grain line, pinning is usually sufficient. If the
seam is on a degree of bias, basting is advisable.
- Stitch very close to the edge of the fold (figure B)
and press the seam open (figure C). The advantage
of this technique is that you can see both layers of the
fabric as you are matching the lines.
- When cutting the pattern piece from the fabric to be
fringed, widen the seam allowance on the edge that will be
fringed to the desired width (figure D). When
cutting the fabric piece, mark the seam line with scissor
clips, chalk or basting.
- To sew the lapped seam, place the piece to be fringed on top
of the other pattern piece, matching the seam lines. The
wrong side of the piece to be fringed will be touching
the right side of the other piece (figure E).
- Stitch on the seam line.
- To create the fringe, gently pull out the threads that are
parallel to the seam line.
Note: If the pattern requires that you sew more
than one section of an area to be fringed to another
before the lapping step, stop the machine-stitching
at the seam line on the edge that will be fringed.
Then trim away the seam allowance below the seam
line. If you stitch to the very end of this seam,
when pulling the threads to make the fringe, that
stitching will prevent you from pulling threads all the way
Seamingly Creative Coat
RESOURCES: Folkwear Patterns 1-800-367-9692 The Spinster
1-800-772-2891 Seams Great 1-800-772-2891
In this segment, Helen Saunders demonstrates a slot seam (figure
A), a decorative seam showing a decorative underlay. This type
of seam can be used to beautiful effect on sleeves (figure B)
or down the front of a skirt.|
- Cut a 1" seam allowance on the edges of fabric pieces where the
slot seam will be used.
Note: If there is a difference in the weight of the two
fabrics, you may have to underline the more lightweight fabric.
- Machine-baste this seam. Press open. Cut the fabric that will
be the underlay in the seam 2" wide.
- With the machine-basted piece wrong side up, position the
underlay, right side down, on the 1" seam allowances,
matching the raw edges (figure C). Baste in place.
- From the right side, machine-stitch 5/8" on both sides of
the machine-basted seam.
Note: Saunders recommends stitching in the same
direction on both sides to help avoid causing a shift in the
position of the fabric.
- Remove the basting stitches.
Note: As a variation on this seam, rather than
machine-basting the seam closed, the folded edges can be
positioned so that more of the underlay will be exposed. With
this technique, be sure to incorporate this extra width within
the parameters of the pattern shape. Another possibility with
this variation is to add ladder-style hand-embroidery
stitches back and forth on the folded edges.
Ladder-stitching and beading by hand add an elegant touch to
If one row of piping is beautiful, imagine the effect of two
rows! It isn't as difficult as it looks.|
- When using 1/8"-1/4" cording, cut 2"-wide bias strips for piping.
Prepare first length of corded piping in the usual way; that is,
using a zipper foot on the machine, and stretching the bias
slightly, enclose the cord in the middle of the bias strip
- To add the second row of corded piping, the first step is to lay
piping #1 on the bias strip for piping #2, right sides together,
with raw edges matching along one edge (figure B). You will
stitch these layers together from the wrong side of piping #1,
following the previous stitching line.
- Turn the strips over and lay the cording for piping #2
in position (figure C). Hand-basting before
machine-stitching is highly advisable, as it is difficult to
control slippage of the second bias strip if it is just pinned.
It is possible to add a third row of piping, but if the piping is
to be inserted in a curved seam, it does not go around curves well.
Even with two rows, application of the piping works best if the
seam is straight or nearly straight.
Couching can be used to cover a seamline or manipulated into a
design. To couch, use a zigzag stitch to sew over a thread or cord;
monofilament or decorative thread mya be used for the zigzag,
depending on the effect you wish to create.
A beautiful example of double-piping, expertly applied
Note: There are many variations to this technique. The basic
approach is to lay a decorative thread, braid, rope, ribbon, etc., on
the right side of a machine-stitched seam and then to stitch it down,
usually using a monofilament thread and a zigzag stitch of an
appropriate width. The monofilament thread is used in the upper
threading path of the machine; regular thread in the bobbin. No
adjustment needs to be made to the tension settings. The best foot to
use on the machine depends on your machine's temperament. Oftentimes,
the standard foot works just fine. It's often helpful to hold the
fabric taut behind the needle as you are stitching.
The Spinster 1-800-772-2891
Rope can be made from a wide variety of threads, ribbons, and yarns.
The rope can be used as embellishment or closures, or it can be applied
to a strip of sheer bias and used as insertion piping. There are two
basic techniques for making the rope. One is for blended rope;
the other is for barber-pole rope. In the barber-pole rope, each
bundle of fibers is a separate color, and the colors remain separate in
the finished rope. Two or more colored bundles may be used. This rope
does not double back on itself, so the length of the original bundle is
just the finished length desired, plus a bit extra. You will need a
helper for this one.
- For a rope with two colors, attach both bundles to something that
- Twist one bundle until tight.
- Have your helper maintain tension on that bundle while you twist
the second bundle.
- Tie the two bundles together, maintaining tension.
- Release the tension, 6" at a time, allowing the two bundles to
combine into rope. Tie them together at the knotted end.
Handmade rope accents this section of the coat.
To make insertion piping from the rope, you will need a strip of sheer
bias, 1-1/4" wide, either purchased already cut or made using a rotary
- Lay the rope down the middle of the strip. The foot to use on the
sewing machine depends on the temperament of the machine.
Oftentimes, the standard foot will work.
- Center the rope and bias under the foot, and then set the needle
position to the right, so that the stitching line will just catch
the rope (figure A).
- Stitch slowly, holding the rope taut behind the needle.
- When stitching is complete, fold the bias strip on the stitching
line and lightly press.