Horsehair braid is a type of crinoline netting and is used to provide structure and give body to hems, hats and sleeves. It’s one of my favourite notions and it gives truly amazing results.
Even better – it’s ridiculously easy to apply! I’ve been finishing up a brocade Brumby skirt for Perth Frocktails this weekend with a horsehair braid hem, and thought i’d share a little tutorial for how you can apply this finish yourself.
Anatomy of horsehair braid
This is 2″ (5cm) wide horsehair braid, but it can come in various widths from 1/2″ wide all the way to 6″ wide. Horsehair braid is made from nylon or polyester and as you can see is a netting. It’s quite flexible and the top edge has thread woven through it. This allows you to pull on the loops and shape the braid to better fit your hem. This is really useful for circle skirts like Veronika. Generally the bottom edge is the one you sew directly to the hemline raw edge, and the top edge with the thread woven in is hand sewn later on.
For this tutorial my hem was straight, so i didn’t need to use the thread at all. Easy!
The cut edge of the trim can be quite scratchy and unravel, so it’s best to enclose it in some sort of binding. You could use ribbon or twill tape or bias binding etc. For this skirt i just cut a piece of selvedge from scrap fabric to bind the edge.
Begin by placing your fabric and horsehair braid right sides together, and with the raw edge of the hemline lined up with the bottom edge of the horsehair braid (ie the edge without the thread). Horsehair braid doesn’t actually have a right side or wrong side to begin with, but it is important to make sure that the prettiest side of your seam binding on the cut edge of the braid is against the right side of the fabric, as this is the side you’ll see and that will touch your body.
Pin the horsehair braid around the hem until you reach the bound section. Overlap, and cut your braid.
Sew 1/4″ (0.6cm) from the raw edge all the way around the hemline.
Now turn your horsehair braid to the inside of your skirt. As you do this you will be essentially creating a rolled hem, where your total seam allowance is 1/2″ (1.3cm). Pin your horsehair braid in pace, and be careful that your hemline is neat. If you’re working with a curved hem, such as that in a circle skirt, you will need to pull the thread loops along the top of the horsehair braid to help it conform to the shape of your skirt.
The final step is to handsew in place! You could definitely top stitch, but i think when you’re creating a specialty hem like this, you might as well put the extra effort in and handsew. I favor a catch stitch for this. For a full tutorial on handsewn hem options, check out this post.
And then you’re done! Don’t forget to press or i will hunt you down!
Wear, and check out the volume!
Where to buy horsehair braid
You should be able to find it pretty easily in large chain stores (like Spotlight in Australia and Hancocks or JoAnns in the USA) but here are a few online options i know of:
Know of any more good online options? Let me know and i’ll add them to the list!