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Sewing with brocade

acertrifolium | Posted in General Sewing Info on

How do you prevent fraying when sewing with brocade? Right from the first cut, this fabric is a problem!!


  1. jjgg | | #1

    You could serge the edges as soon as the piece is cut - just cut off the feathery edges, don't trim the piece as you serge it.If you don't have a serger, you could zig zag the edges, this won't be as pretty as a serged edge but will work just as well.

    1. acertrifolium | | #2


      1. KharminJ | | #3

        Greetings, Miss Maple! :) Here's a link I just found in another thread - phyllisc shows "thread basting" with an interlining, on a very ravelly fabric. I haven't followed up on this post, but it is still an active blog - you can probably find lots more information there: http://thesewingdivas.wordpress.com/2007/11/And Welcome! to one of the friendliest, most helpful resources I've ever come across ~ have fun here, read, write, learn and share to your heart's content! Bright Blessings!Kharmin

        1. acertrifolium | | #4


          1. Ceeayche | | #5

            I agree with both recommendations and have used both successfully with brocade:

            In other words, I first hand basted then serged a lightweight cotton batiste to the wrong side of each piece and completed the garment using the batiste as interlining.  I transferred all the markings to to the batiste.  Then constructed the garment as if they were one fabric, lining it per the pattern's instructions with a lightweight ambiance. 

            Really helped with the way the suit looked and the way it wore.  Also I was successful with the same technique on a set of christmas stockings.

            Edited 2/26/2009 5:05 pm ET by CHL

          2. acertrifolium | | #6

            Lining the brocade has been recommended several times as well as serging the edges...I don't have a serger so maybe either zigzag or hand stitching or even some kind of glue.....thanks for your input

          3. Ceeayche | | #7

            Zig zag would work and assist in keeping the raveling down to a minimum.

  2. User avater
    Thimblefingers | | #8

    I use a lightweight iron-on interfacing, usually Sewer's Dream, on all the pieces a soon as I cut them out.  Prevents fraying, and slippage on the seams, edges can be either serged or zig-zagged, and it's less time consuming than underlining.

    1. acertrifolium | | #9

      I'm new at this...so you interface the entire piece...each and every piece?
      The other question. Why would you need to finish the edge if you did this?

      1. User avater
        Thimblefingers | | #17

        Sorry to take so long to answer your question regarding the iron-on interfacing.  I iron it onto all the pieces.  Keep in mind that this is a very lightweight high quality interfacing.  It doesn't add a lot of stiffness to the fabric.  Using a knit interfacing would maintain drapeablitiy of the fabric, if that is an issue.  After ironing on the interfacing, the edges can all be serged or zig-zagged effectively.  The interfacing will keep the cut edges of the brocade from shredding.  Underlining is not as effective at doing this.  It takes less time than basting on underlining and is also very effective at preventing the pulling at the seams that will occur on brocades on seams that are under stress.  (Underlining will also prevent this.)

        You could also interface the entire piece of fabric, then cut it out.  The only disadvantage to this is that interfacig can be costly and there will be some waste.  You also have to be careful that the fabric stays on-grain as you iron-on. 

  3. Teaf5 | | #10

    One of the problems with brocade is that the woven pattern means that most of the threads are long and some are far longer than the typical seam allowance. When you cut along a seam allowance, you are severing the anchor of those longer ones.  Once those ends are loose, it's hard to get them back into place with any seam finishing or stabilizing.

    Someone mentioned a basting line; perhaps that is the same as my approach: securing the threads before cutting out the piece.  Trace the pattern pieces onto the uncut brocade (a chalk pencil works well), and then run a line of straight machine stitching (short stitches, not long basting ones) just INSIDE that line to secure all those threads.  Then cut out the pattern pieces just OUTSIDE the stitching line.  The threads will fray back to the seam allowance, but no further.

    You can mark, stitch, then cut several smaller pattern pieces on a portion of the brocade (after stitching a straight line on either side of the preliminary cut).  And you can do a preliminary cut of the larger pieces out leaving 3-4" beyong the actual cutting lines so that you can stitch along edge of the seam allowance before cutting off the excess.  (Be careful about those "cut 2" pieces that will need one right side and one wrong side when laid out on the unfolded fabric!)

    Although this seems awfully time-consuming, it's much easier than trying to coax those threads back into place after they have sprung free!  You still have to finish any seam allowances that you trim, but by then, the seams will be holding the threads in place.  Any untrimmed seam allowances are already finished by the pre-cutting stitch.


    1. Palady | | #11

      >> ... this seems awfully time-consuming, it's much easier ... <<

      You're comment is so very well said.   I sure hope it is seen by everyone. 

      Often the idea of basting or hand stitching or a whatever that falls in the "time-consuming" is abhored by sewists.  Yet in the over all, taking the time can make a world of difference in the finish piece.  Be it fashion, home decor, whimsie, or any other effrot.


      1. jjgg | | #13

        >>>Often the idea of basting or hand stitching or a whatever that falls in the "time-consuming" is abhored by sewists. Yet in the over all, taking the time can make a world of difference in the finish piece. Be it fashion, home decor, whimsie, or any other effrot.<<<This is precisely why there are so few people sewing, the machine companies and pattern companies etc etc keep on touting the "make it quick and easy" bit. Well, quick and easy means poor fit, sloppy work, cheap results that no one wants to be seen in. If people would go back to basics and teach 'time consuming' techniques perhaps the outcome would be much better.

        1. GailAnn | | #14

          AMEN, Sister, Hallelujah, and a well spoken truth! 

          Pattern companies, sewing magazines, the entire industry, as a whole, has underestimated the abilities of the home sewer for SO long, we sometimes doubt our OWN abilities.  This practice has diminished us all and devastated the "fabric and notions sold for home use" business.

          Even sewing machines, once purchased to last the owner's lifetime, as she sewed most of her family's clothing, now are showing their age, if not in a state of actual disrepair after a single decade. 


          1. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #15

            I could not agree more with you and jigg. My mother was an artist with anything textile, and sadly I only FULLY appreciated her skills in recent years. I've sewed since I was a child, and I did it well enough. Took a hiatus to climb the corporate ladder --- oh wasted years. Just wasted. But that's a whole other story.... Anyway, I discovered Threads after accidentally stumbling onto this website. I was, and still am, in awe of the talented people here and fell in love with the couture features in Threads. All of this brought me back to sewing and has made me strive to become a better sewer. It was not the quick and easy that did it. The junk. It's the back covers showing delightful garments, detailed articles of the wonderful sewing skills and techniques of designers and artisans, as well as thoughtful help and explanations here from so many truly talented sewers.Excellence breeds excellence. In my humble opinion. I don't think we can dumb down this wonderful art form/craft (or our schools or our work places) and have it thrive and expand.

            Edited 3/9/2009 2:15 pm by JunkQueen

          2. GailAnn | | #16

            "OH, the wasted years..." Lament of the corporate survivor.   I certainly am one of your chorus. 

            Made me wonder about your age?  (fyi..I'm 58)

            If I could just tell the younger generation of women ONE thing, it would be "Put your family first.  All the time.  Every time." 

            An education can always be obtained.  A job found.  A career started.  Fertility is only a brief and fleeting moment in a lifetime.  Each child allows only one chance to mother him/her.  Then the opportunity is gone.  A home, well-made, lasts for generations.  A child well raised is the only treasure it is possible to send into the future.

            I, too, wasted years in the window office, that would have been much better spent viewing the world through the lace covered windows of my sewing room.  Gail 


          3. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #20

            I am 67, Gail. I was there 40+ years. Many of those years are a mere blur to me. There were people who tried to tell me, but I was not listening. My child deserved better. Hind sight is truly 20-20. My son tells people now when they ask why he works like he does that he was the only child of workaholic parents.......... Sad.

          4. GailAnn | | #21

            Ah, but we now speak with the voice of experience. 

            I don't know whether or not you are a Christian, but the Bible (Titus 2:3-5) commands the aged women to be "teachers of GOOD THINGS."

            So, having chosen poorly the first time, get another chance.  Gail

          5. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #22

            I am a Christian. Thank you for the reference to those verses. I try to share my age-gained-wisdom with young people, especially my son and DIL. My DIL is as driven as I was and is just now finishing her Masters on her way to her PhD. It sometimes pains me to see her trying to be all things to all people. As much as possible, I help her with her course work, which seems steeped in copious amounts of research and writing. I proof and edit papers for her every week. We laugh and say I'm getting my Masters, also!

          6. KharminJ | | #23

            Indeed, you are! Keep at least rudimentary track of the things you're learning from her papers - you may be able to get some credit for yourself when YOU get into Continuing Education! (big grin!) Bright Blessings! Kharmin

          7. GailAnn | | #24

            Her children shall arise up and call her blessed. Gail

        2. starzoe | | #18

          Often the details and handiwork which is now thought of as couture was actually the only way to sew. There weren't any quicky ways to do them so necessarily they were done by hand.Just think of all the new accessories and aides that have been put on the market in the past (say) ten years. Practically everything on the findings wall in a fabric store is either new or improved, as are the sewing machines that nowadays even think for you, a far reach from the Singer treadle I learned on 'way back in the sands of time.

          1. jjgg | | #19

            >>>Just think of all the new accessories and aides that have been put on the market in the past (say) ten years. Practically everything on the findings wall in a fabric store is either new or improved, as are the sewing machines that nowadays even think for you, a far reach from the Singer treadle I learned on 'way back in the sands of time.<<<And so many of the things on the notions wall are redundant & unnecessary. And I have one (or more! :) of those fancy new sewing machines that think for you and sort of wish I didn't have them. I like to be able to set everything and have it stay the way I set it, I finally got a plain jane straight stitch industrial machine an am in 7th heaven with it.
            Now, there really are some great notions out there though. One that I just love is the little gizmo for closing safety pins when you pin a quilt before you quilt it. I love that thing.

    2. acertrifolium | | #12

      This makes so much sense!! What a great tip!! Many thanks!

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