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Soutache Revival

Threads #202, April/May 2019

Soutache was a favorite trim during the Victorian era, when women’s gowns and men’s vests and jackets were heavily ornamented. Since richly embellished clothing was time-consuming and costly to create, only wealthy people could afford these ornate clothes. Today, soutache, like many trims, is mass-produced and can be sewn on by machine. Use soutache to create scroll-like motifs with curves and swirls. Waves, spirals, loose braids, paisleys, and serpentine patterns come to life with soutache. Straight lines and angles are also within the canon of soutache embellishment.

In Hungarian, sujtás means trim; the French transliteration is soutache, and the term is used to describe a specific kind of braid. Also known as Russian braid, soutache is made with two or more cotton cords wrapped together side by side by a rayon yarn in a herringbone pattern. The valley between the filler cords is a perfect place to hide stitches.

I’ll show you how to sew soutache in a four-strand flat braid pattern, but even a single line of soutache accenting a design line can transform something ordinary into a unique garment. Why settle for plain and ordinary when a few yards of soutache can elevate your creation into a dramatic outfit?

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