Home » Sewing Techniques » In-seam trims

In-seam trims

Decorative trimmings can be added between two layers of fabric and sewn together when making a seam to create an interesting effect on the front. They can be used in garments or in patchwork or pieced fabrics. The fabric can be folded back so the trim protrudes along an edge, or be pressed flat with the insertion standing proud of the fabric as shown in the Basic Method.

Material and Design Notes

  • You could even try using broken zips, bias-cut strips or any kind of decorative edging in the seam.
  • Half-zips should be tacked along the seam line, with teeth to the left. Sew with a zip foot.
  • Fringe and bobbles should be sewn with the decorative edge pointing inwards on the main fabric so the braid part is contained in the seam allowance.

Basic method

1). Mark the seam line accurately (this is usually 1.5cm/⁵⁄₈in) with tailor’s chalk or marking pen on the right side of one piece of fabric.

Basic method In-seam trims A

2). Pin the trim along the marked seam line. If there is a particular edge that you want to have showing, make sure that edge is the one facing inwards, with the edge to be hidden facing the raw edge. Make sure the centre of the trim is positioned on the seam line.

Basic method In-seam trims B

3). Hand tack (baste) the trim in place along the centre, so you are sewing right on the seam line.
4). Place the other piece of fabric on top with right sides facing, making sure the raw edges are matched; pin in place.

Basic method In-seam trims C

5). Sew the seam with the tacking (basting) facing up. Follow the line of the tacking (basting) very precisely. Remove the tacking (basting), turn out and press flat, or open the piece out and press the seam so the trim stands proud.

Basic method In-seam trims D

The basic method is described and shown using ricrac.

In-seam trim variations

Felt shapes

Cut shapes from felt, either in a long strip with one straight edge, or as individual pieces. If using a long strip follow the Basic Method. If using individual shapes, cut each felt piece with a long extension and straight edge (see diagram). Line up the pieces with the straight edges on the raw edge of the fabric and the shapes pointing to the left. Butt the pieces up to each other if required.

In-seam trim variations A

Place the other piece of fabric on top and pin through all the layers. Continue as for the Basic Method.


Piping cord or double-knitting weight yarn is encased in a matching or co-ordinating fabric.

1). Measure the thickness of the piping cord or double-knitting weight yarn then add 3cm (11⁄₈in) to work out the total width of the fabric strip required.

2). Wrap the fabric around the cord/yarn, right side out, and tack (baste) by hand. Using a zip foot, machine stitch close to the cord/yarn.

In-seam trim variations B

3). Position the finished piping on the seam line with the stitching on the marked line.

4). Pin and tack (baste) all layers. Stitch from the tacked (basted) side, following the line of stitches. Use a zip foot to get as close as possible to the piping.

In-seam trim variations C

Wool felt could be cut into any shapes and inserted into the seam.

In-seam trim variations D

Piping : double-knitting weight yarn was used here rather than piping cord.

Project Idea : Ricrac Apron

This apron is made using a pieced, patchwork pattern available from www.ruthsinger.com. The side panels are made of five sections with the braid applied between them rather than on the surface.

Technique : In-Seam Trim
Material : Fine black linen and white ricrac

Project Idea Ricrac Apron In-seam trims A

  • Cut sections of patchwork. Apply the ricrac braid on the seam line, centring it carefully so exactly half shows when the seam is sewn.
  • Sew each section and press the seam allowance open on the back; then, from the front, press the braid so it lies downwards towards the hem of the garment, or press it both up and down so it stands upright away from the fabric.
  • Make up the garment following the pattern instructions.

Project Idea Ricrac Apron In-seam trims B

Fabric Manipulation
150 CREATIVE Sewing Techniques

Ruth Singer