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Tutorial // How to sew a horsehair braid hem

How to sew a horsehair braid hem // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

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

Anatomy of a horsehair braidHorsehair braid top edge

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!

Method

Enclose the horsehair braid edge to avoid fraying

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.

Use bias binding to prevent the edge from scratching

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.

Place the horsehair braid and fabric edge with right sides facing

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.

Turn your sewn horsehair braid to the inside of the skirt Pin the horsehair braid to the inside of the skirt

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!

My finished skirt with horsehair braid hem

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!

// LOOKING FOR MORE VERONIKA POSTS? //

Here’s the full list of all of the Veronika posts and tutorials:

How to sew a horsehair braid hem // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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Iris
6 years ago

Yayy for horsehair! I so want to try this. Inspiration…

Jo
Jo
6 years ago

That outfit is fabulous! Perfect for Frocktails!

patternandbranch
6 years ago

I just tried horsehair for the first time and I love it! This is a great, clear tutorial. I’m saving it for future use.

Steph
6 years ago

First time seeing your blog. Love this tip for a little girl’s fancy dress. Also, you look darling in that dress. Beautiful!

Carol Hemmingsen
Carol Hemmingsen
6 years ago

Great tutorial! Thanks!!

/anne...
/anne...
6 years ago

Megan, which widths would you recommend? I’ve seen the narrow stuff, all the way up to very wide, but apart from using the very wide for ball gowns and wedding dresses, I’m at a loss to figure out what to do with the rest – and as it’s not particularly cheap, I don’t want to buy lots and find out it’s too wide/narrow for whatever I’m making, and just looks silly :-(

Other than that, great tutorial!

Ann
Ann
6 years ago

Great tutorial. A good source for horsehair is WaWak.

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[…] A fantastic tutorial for adding a horsehair braid hem to a skirt over on Megan Nielsen Design Diary. I am adding this to my must try list with the […]

francesca
francesca
6 years ago

This is adorable. I thought it was a circle skirt – doesn’t Brumy have gathers?

francesca
francesca
6 years ago
Reply to  Meg

thanks for clarifying, you are such a sweetie…

trackback

[…] skirt is a silk brocade Brumby, and the hem is finished with horsehair braid (tutorial here). The crop top is based on my Sudley blouse from one of my ready to wear collections. I used a […]

Rebecca
Rebecca
4 years ago

Hi there!

I made a sweet Ponte circle skirt a few weeks ago, and only just now stumbled on to your post! I hand-finished the entire hem at 5/8”, and am loathe to unpick it all to insert horsehair braid. Do you think I can thread some braid through the hem as-is?

Thanks!

trackback

[…] even if no-one else ever does! I also used horsehair braid for the hem – using this tutorial (Megan Nielsen How to Sew a Horsehair Braid Hem) – wow, what a revelation that stuff is! It is so easy to use and it seriously reduced the […]

Sarah Erwin
Sarah Erwin
3 years ago

Hey there, Megan. I’m an experienced seamstress, but have never used this stuff. Am trying to help my daughter with a “cosplay” costume that calls for horsehair braid in the hem, but she didn’t buy enough. Since it’s on the bias going onto a circle skirt, can I stretch the braid as I sew it on to try and make it fit around the skirt, or does that defeat the “flair” that it adds to the skirt? (Skirt is knife pleated at the top, but is a circle.) No store within 50 miles of me carries the stuff, so the soonest I can get it by ordering online would be Monday, and we were hoping to get it all done before she left here on Sunday. HELP!!

Susanna Hammond
Susanna Hammond
3 years ago

How do you determine the width of horsehair braid needed? I am working on a floor length velvet skirt that needs to flair out. Would wider horsehair braid work better?

Leticia Nedilskyj
Leticia Nedilskyj
3 years ago

Did you get a reply ? I”ll like to know. Want to use it in a 60′ S style hem dress. Thank you

Susanna Hammond
Susanna Hammond
3 years ago

No I didn’t get a reply

Julia
Julia
3 years ago

I’d like to know as well, I’m getting a velvet bridesmaid dress and I think I will want to help it stand out a bit more than it likely will.

Xat
Xat
3 years ago

I arrived at this tutorial after a search for horsehair braid hem information. When I got to the photo of you, I thought “she looks familiar, how do I know her…” Then I realized I used to read your blog years ago, before you launched your pattern line. Now that I’m getting back into sewing, it’s like coming home!

trackback

[…] Horsehair or horsehair braid, for those who are unfamiliar, is a type of crinoline netting and is used to provide structure and give body to hems, hats and sleeves. https://blog.megannielsen.com/2015/10/tutorial-how-to-sew-a-horsehair-braid-hem/ […]

Robyn Prendergast
Robyn Prendergast
3 years ago

I have a long evening dress with a trumpet silhouette, after getting it hemmed, it lost its flounce. I believe adding a horsehair braid will give it the flounce it needs but am not sure if I would have to hem up, shortening the length putting it in. Can it be added without shortening the length?

Faye Falzone
Faye Falzone
3 years ago

I helping a client with making her completion dance dance stand out more. It is long made of polyester single knit stretch fabric. Because it is a polyester knit, what width horse hair braid would you suggest. I was thinking 2 inches. Since I have never done this before, I need some suggestions.