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help – how to put grosgrain trim on edge

Janna | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

A friend has a black felt hat for some kind of historical military convention  (it’s sort of a tricorn, with three sides folded up and affixed, one side with a gold button). I don’t exactly know how to describe it.  He wants a folded strip of 1″ navy grosgrain put around the entire edge of the hat.  I can’t decide how best to attach it. I will fold it in half, press it, then what – hand stitch it onto the edge with tiny stitches?  Straight stitches or overstitching over the edge of the ribbon?  Do one side at a time or both together?  The felt is stiff but I can stitch through it.  I assume there isn’t any kind of fixative or glue that won’t stain the ribbon but I am worried about unevenness or tucking/puckers with the stitches.  Any suggestions? 


  1. mem1 | | #1

    i have attached braid around the bottom of a lamp shade with a hot glue gun.. this worked very well and any bits hat got onto the fabric were easily peeled off when it was cold.

  2. SkiNsew | | #2

    There are products called double stick fusing tapes on the market.  The one I use is called "Sew Perfect" from Hancocks Fabrics (their own label).  These  come in varying widths.  You just press one side of the tape to the ribbon and then peel off the second side and press the whole thing to the hat.  Ironing will seal the grosgrain permanently.   It is not necessary to sew it in place.   When I do use grosgrain for decoration on children's clothing I then edge stitch it for additional security.  If you decide to edge stitch it, it is very important (even tho it is fused) to stitch both edges in the same direction.


  3. SewTruTerry | | #3

    I would opt for the hand stitching even if it means more work and only tack it every inch more or less.  This way you will avoid a lot of puckers and don't make the stitches line up evenly on either side of the ribbon this will eliminate puckers as well.  I would advise against the glue options as well because it sounds as though they are participating in a historical recreations and there are many groups that really go for the authentic look.

  4. kayl | | #4

    Another thought... typical grosgrain in the fabric stores is pretty

    stiff and hard to block into anything but straight shapes, while hat

    crowns typically have a slight taper to them, sort of like around ####traffic cone with the top cut off <g>. If that's an issue, you might

    want to have your friend look at "Petersham", which is a grosgrain-like

    ribbon that's sometimes used as a "waistbandless facing" for skirts or

    pants. You can shape it with a steam iron into sort of a shallow

    C shape, and then it hugs the crown of the hat. One net source I

    know of: http://thesewingplace.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=63

    Haven't bought from them, but I believe they have a good reputation.


    1. carolfresia | | #5

      I agree, Kay--petersham is a lot more cooperative about being shaped into something other than a straight line.

      For anyone who hasn't had the chance to compare the two, petersham differs from regular grosgrain (although it's sometimes called grosgrain) in that it has a noticeably scalloped edge; this is why it can stretch a bit along one edge to take on a waist facing contour. Grosgrain has a straight edge--the weave is quite stable there. Also, petersham is usually made of rayon, I believe, whereas the grosgrain you can purchase easily tends to be polyester or nylon, and there's just about zero give there.

      I recently got my hands on a yard of 3-inch-wide petersham, which is much wider than I'd ever seen before, and it was so stretchy it almost felt like it had a touch of lycra in it. I'd love to use it for a waist facing, either on the inside or outside of a skirt.


      1. kayl | | #7

        3" petersham! Wow!

        Many moons ago, when hip-hugger skirts were in fashion for the first

        time I remember, petersham could be gotten at the local big department store (they even had a ribbon counter, not with fabrics!) and the widest I could find was about 2". Made a dandy inside facing for a waistbandless skirt. Tried it again years later with poly grosgrain.

        It worked ok if you made little unsewn dart tucks in it as you applied

        it, but it was definitely a make-do.

        Nice to know that it's still made, and that it's available from ####reputable place online.

        BTW, as I started to think about this last night, I wonder if the

        original poster wasn't intending to bind the edges of the brim, rather

        than a decorative band around the crown. For that, too, I would think

        petersham would be far better than poly grosgrain. Or maybe silk

        faille, cut like a french binding for a quilt?


        1. carolfresia | | #8

          I would think 1.5 in. would be wide enough for a waistband facing, but I loved the really wide stuff. I've run across several patterns in recent years that call for a grosgrain waist facing, but they never tell you that polyester grosgrain is tricky to use. In one case, I ended up using 1.25-inch-wide elastic instead, and it was great. The skirt was slightly too big around the waist to start with, so the elastic pulled it in a tiny bit and held it right where it needed to be.


          1. kayl | | #9

            Good save with the elastic! I like it!


          2. carolfresia | | #10

            Well, I was pleased with the result (and will probably use the technique again), but I have to confess (in this public forum and before you and and all the other devoted sewers who are members): I was being pretty lazy. I simply couldn't stand the idea of adjusting the seams in an 8-gore skirt just to bring it in a couple of inches when the elastic would do the job, and leave me with a skirt that would fit nicely even on a "fat' day!


          3. kayl | | #11

            I was thinking of my mom's pants waistband when you mentioned this.

            I often face skirt waists for her, as she's round and short from

            hips to ribcage, but I usually have done drawstring elastic in

            her pants waistbands -- this might well be a good alternative.

            Besides, I've just picked up 100 yards of 3" elastic for $4. <g>

            And she's in need of some expansion room at times.



          4. SewNancy | | #12

            If you look inside pants from Eileen Fisher she uses elastic as a facing and I have copied this and it  doesn't look like an elastic waist but functions as one.  But, it is only about 1" or 1 1/4" wide. 


          5. FitnessNut | | #13

            That sounds like a great idea! I think I'm going to try that on my next pair of pants.

            Do you know about how much ease there is in the waistline of the fabric? Or would it be the same as for a regular pair of pants?

          6. mem1 | | #14

            Nancy I dont know Eileen Fisher but I am wondering if she faces the waist band with elastic and what happens as you approach the open fly front or sde zip etc or is it used as a facing directly onto the trouser or skirt top and if so how? How is it attached to the trousers ?

          7. SewNancy | | #15

            The pants I have seen are pull on that don't look like an elastic waistband.  The elastic is serged on then folded to the inside which puts the seging on the bottom with a layer of fabric on the inside.  then there is in the ditch sewing to hold it in place at vertical seams and darts if any.  This is a very clean look and is not too gathered.  I saw it on lite weight wool double knit.


          8. mem1 | | #16

            Yes I have seen that too. it does look good . I HATE serging elastic onto anything!

        2. yd | | #18

          Where can I buy Petersham?

          1. twimb | | #19
          2. Crish | | #20


            They carry about 75 colors in 3 widths (1/2' 1", 1 1/2"), some additional "fashion" colors in 1/4" and 1" and black, white, ivory navy, brown and red in 3".  I'm not sure if it is included in their web shopping list but you can request directly.  You can also call them at 313 863 8437.

    2. SewNancy | | #6

      I buy from them all the time and they are great.  I did find that I got things a few days more quickly when I ordered by phone than online, but it still took only 4 or 5 days instead of 2 or 3.

      Great website and service.  They also have the petal shaped shoulder pads that are perfect fro me as I have narrow shoulders and everything else is way too wide.


  5. louise | | #17


    Having read all of the responses to your query I have two or three suggestions.

    1) check the library for hatmaking books (millinery) check out a bunch, there will undoubtedly be methods to apply ribbon.

    2) Try your local historical society.

    3) check the web or the advertising pages of Threads for millinery supply companies.  Often you can email them and they will advise you how to proceed.  In London Ont. Canada there is a company that supplies to the Stratford Festival, thus are very familiar with period costume.  Try them at http://www.farthingales.on.ca  another source for period costume advice could be your local museum.  In Toronto Canada you could try the Royal Ontario Museum (probably www. therom.on.ca) they are world renowned and have been very helpful to me when trying to find proper and appropriate restoration of various things.  They also have a Q & A column in their magazine Rotunda so they are adept at handling questions and providing solutions. 

    4) buy a natural fibre ribbon: silk, linen, cotton ( I don't know exactly how many fibres can be made into grosgrain or Petersham).  Also see if your friend absolutely means grosgrain, can it be an evenweave or satin?  If grosgrain is not absolutely necessary, perhaps you can cut your own binding and thus it will be on the bias making the problems of bumps or ripples disappear.  If you are not sure how to make and apply a bias binding go to the Threads issue about Tom and Linda Platt, it has everything you need.

    4)  I would apply one side by machine  using about 8 stitches per inch, then flip over to the "right side" or most obvious side and invisibly slip stitch into every 3rd or 4th machine stitch.  Remember to wax and then press your thread, it will be a life saver!  If you decide you want to be really sticky about machine stitching on both sides, machine sew the edge of the ribbon you will ultimately be hand stitching.  It might help with easing and will be a ruler for your hand stitches.

    Hope this helped


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