Adding trim to a garment is a great way to elevate it's design both aesthetically and functionally. These days, there are so many different styles to choose from, ranging from conventional embroidery to specialized beaded, chain and leather trims. What they all have in common however, are the techniques used to sew them and the variety of ways they are incorporated into a garment.
Based on sewing technique, you can group all trims into two large categories: Trims that can be machine stitched and trims that require hand sewing. You will certainly be able to tell the two apart based on their construction and materials used. You'll find that novelty trims featuring beaded accents, metal chains, leather cording, sequins, etc. do not offer an appropriate machine stitching "path". When you can't find an effective stitching area on a trim, it should be hand sewn to the garment instead. To permanently attach a more complex trim by hand, you can use either a blind slip stitch or a simple blanket stitch.
In some cases, even if a trim can be physically machine stitched, it doesn't mean you should necessarily machine stitch it. Take a close look at the garment you are sewing and make sure the stitch applied on top of the trim will not damage or affect it aesthetically or functionally. This is often true when sewing bridal. Most wedding dresses/bridal gowns require the addition of trims along lace edges serving both an aesthetic purpose as well as a way to clean finish raw edges. In many cases, even when a machine sticthable trim is used, you may still have to hand sew it to prevent damaging the rest of the gown's lace fabric (which needs to be handled very gently).
As far as trim design and style, there are a few large groups that each can be classified to. These larger groups break down into smaller ones (of course), but for the purpose of this sewing beginner tutorial, we'll just focus on the broad picture.
Decorative Edge Trims: This type of trim is distinguishable by the fact that one edge is usually straight, serving as the sewing edge, while the other features a non-straight extension for the purpose of decorating a garment's hem or fabric's edge. In this tutorial, I used an embroidered edge trim that has V-shaped angular extensions along it's bottom lengthwise edge. This style is perhaps the most commonly manufactured and used in clothing design. Edge trims normally provide a distinct machine stitching edge along its top lengthwise portion making them easy to work with and convenient to attach using your sewing machine. They also come in a variety of different styles and widths. The trim used in the tutorial below is about 1.5" wide- you can choose yours based on desired look and project. While they are conventionally designed to be added to a clothing item's edge, you can add these decorative trims to the fabric surface or enclose them in a seam as desired.
If you are reading this tutorial, you are probably in the midst of a struggle with sewing a beaded or sequined fabric. A couple of years ago, I was wearing those shoes when I took on the enormous (yet exciting) task of designing and making my sister's wedding dress. When it comes to a project as such, lets just say the pressure is always on. Everything had to be prefect and that includes, of course, the dress fabric. As we browsed store after store, no fabric was off limits. I was ready to take on any textile regardless of how ornate or potentially difficult to work with it was. Eventually, we found the one- a luxurious lace hand beaded with two different styles of beads which beautifully blended onto the fabric surface providing a tasteful sparkle. I'll be honest, I don't recall the exact lace print itself (it was definitely floral), I do however vividly recall having to remove each minuscule bead along the fabric's cut edges in order to physically stitch the seams together. Lesson number 1? Sewing with heavily beaded and sequined fabrics requires a lot of patience. The end result however, is incredibly rewarding.
Precautions For Sewing With Beaded And Sequined Fabrics
As you might have already guessed, sewing with beaded or sequined fabrics will take a bit more energy than working with regular fabrics. There a few aspects of taking on these unique fabrics that require a different construction (and sometimes design) process than that conventionally used with non-ornamental fabrics.
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