How to Sew Corded Tucks
Pad from below and embellish from above
Once upon a time, lovely blouses, like this 1940s top, peeked out from beneath women’s practical jackets and cardigans. These elegant garments often had necklines splendid enough to make jewelry unnecessary, and they were chic enough to pair with stylish pants or a festive skirt for special occasions. Read on to learn how to create beaded and corded tucks on your next inspired project.
This elegant neckline doesn’t need jewelry because it is an adornment in itself. The lovely but surprisingly uncomplicated tuck treatment can be accomplished easily with a straight stitch on the sewing machine, a pin-tuck foot, a twin needle, some cord and thread, and a blouse with a jewel neckline. I recommend sewing your own blouse and adding the tucks first, but you could use this technique on a premade top. If your top is ready-made, open the shoulder seams so you can sew from raw edge to raw edge and hide the beginning and ending stitches inside the finished seams later.
This method borrows from two more traditional techniques: It’s like a tuck, but the two sides don’t meet; it’s like trapunto, but you don’t have to run a filler layer between the fashion fabric and a fabric underlayer. It’s all a matter of how you make the stitches.
1. Plan your design. Measure the neckline front about 3 inches from the neckline seamline. Divide the length into an odd number of segments, and center the segments symmetrically. Draw the bottom scallops with a compass or by tracing a round object. Then draw concentric scallops 3⁄8 inch above. Avoid making corners less than 90 degrees. Mark the design on the fabric. The sample has five scallops (3 inches wide at the base) in three concentric rows (spaced 3⁄8 inch apart) around the neckline.
2. Set up the sewing machine. Install a twin needle and pin-tuck foot. Arrange for a straight stitch, and use a fine cotton or silk thread. Test the machine stitch with the thread and fabric before adding the cording and again with the cording. The cording establishes the hand of the tucking and is simply laid under the fabric in the foot’s center groove. Chainette yarn was used in the sample. Alternatively, a polyester yarn adds loft to the tuck and keeps it looking full without making it stiff.
3. Sew the corner. Since you can’t pivot the fabric with the twin needles in the down position, try this: At the corner, lift the needles from the fabric, and lift the presser foot. Turn the fabric, keeping the left needle hovering above its position, and turn the flywheel by hand until the left needle inserts at the pivot point. Proceed to stitch and repeat at each corner.
4. Add the optional beading. It gives sparkle and makes the garment dressier. Anchor the thread in the seam allowance intersecting the tucks on the wrong side, and attach the beads with a running stitch between the tucks.
Judith Neukam is Threads’ executive editor.
Get the latest including tips, techniques and special offers straight to your inbox.