Thursday, February 25, 2010

An edging finish using the fabric selvedge; a tute

So I set to work on making an outfit from my python print satin.  I want to make a skirt and a top this time, rather than a dress, so I can wear the top with other pants and jeans during autumn and winter.  For the top I'm using a wrap top pattern Burda 8497 and gave some thought to how to finish the edges.  I wanted a clean smooth edge with no visible stitching on view.  This pretty much ruled out any machine finishing, and while I’m more than happy to hand finish a hem I thought I’d try something else this time…
The Feb/March 2010 Threads magazine gave instructions for an edge treatment attributed to Madeleine Vionnet.  This method utilises the selvedge of the fabric, and the accompanying photograph showed a clean smooth edge with a rather attractive almost “piping” effect along the edge that I thought would be perfect, so here we go…
For this finish, cut the selvedges off the fabric, keeping about 1cm extra fabric, giving about a 2cm width strip overall.

Fold the fabric and press, so the “selvedge” side of the pressed strip is wider and overhanging the “cut” edge of fabric.  Lay this strip on top of the right side of your edge to be finished, with the “selvedge” edge up and keeping the selvedge edge longer than and overhanging the unfinished edge.
Stitch along the strip, keeping your stitching about 2mm in from the folded edge of the strip
Turn the selvedge strip to the inside and press.

According to the instructions in the Threads magazine no further stitching is needed.

My final verdict?  There seems no way of preventing the whole strip from just falling down and into view, so I would have to say it actually didn’t reeeally work all that well and I don’t understand how this method could be considered so fantastic.  I ended up hand stitching the hem down invisibly in the end anyway.  Alternatively you could "stitch in the ditch" along the edge and this could help prevent fallout.
I guess you could say it was a nice smooth flat hem, and the selvedge edge is clean and self-finished, so looks good on the inside.  I would use this again, but it might work better on, say, a neckline where there is no danger of gravity causing the strip to fall down and out, but if you are using this for a bottom hem then be prepared for further hand stitching for an effective hem…


  1. *scratches head*... huh.
    I don't see how this would work, either. Even with stiffer fabrics, I would think the strip will still fallout and be exposed.

  2. I really know nothing about sewing, but am trying to learn.
    I am not sure, but what you have shown here looks an awful lot like a tutorial I saw on how to do a blind hemm using a blind hem foot.
    The only difference was that every few stitches it would do a little zigzag into the main fabric.. if that makes sense... all the folding is the same though?
    Prolly totally different, but it looks a whole lot like it to me :)

  3. To me, this looks like a variation on finishing the edges of your fabric with biais tape. This has the advantage of having a finished edge at the unsewn side but lacks the flexibility of biais tape. In both cases, it seems to me that further stitching or hand sewing would nearly always be required.

  4. Oh, thank you for posting this! I was very curious about the Vionnet-finishing-technique. This looks like a very neat and quite simple way that may work in some cases, and not in others, like you say... still, it might be worth a little hand-stitching?

  5. Thanks so much for the tute and your review of the method.