Adding Trims to Create One of a Kind Looks


Blogger: Deanna Mackin

Adding Trims to Create One of a Kind Looks

Holidays and special occasions give us the perfect reason to add unique details to garments to make them extra special!  In today’s blog, I’ll be showing you how I used trims to create a one-of-a-kind Easter dress using the Birmingham pattern created with fabric from Hawthorne Supply Co's Buffalo Plaid and Hoppy Trails in mint. 

I’ll also be outlining a few additional ways trims can be used to create a special look!

Here are a few tips before we get started! 

  • Although you always have the option to hand sew trims, machine sewing will save time and can still provide a neat and clean finish.
  • Depending on the trim used, look for the best placement for the topstitch lines to create a discreet finish.
  • When topstitching the trim onto the garment, consider using a slightly lengthened stitch to make the stitch line less visible, especially for crochet or loose weave trims.
  • Finally, when adhering the trim to the fabric, basting spray and wonder tape (no-iron, double sided wash away tape) can help you perfectly align it without the need for excessive pinning.

Now for the fun part, it’s time to gather trims and sewing supplies and get started!



The Birmingham bodice features an angled bodice overlay which is the perfect palette for adding trim!  There are two different ways to add trim to this piece; the trim can be added on top of or underneath the overlay. 

In this paragraph we will discuss placing the trim on top of the bodice overlay.  To complete this look, finish the overlay as directed by pressing the raw side edges 1/2” (1.3cm) wrong sides together and topstitching the overlay to the bodice.  When choosing what width trim to use, keep in mind that it needs to end more than 1/2” (1.3 cm) from the outside edge of the shoulder seam. 

To attach the trim, start by cutting two pieces that are a little longer than the length of the angled bodice overlay edge.  For this bodice, I chose a 7/8” (2.2 cm) width trim.  You will want to play around with your chosen trim to find the best look for where you would like to place it.  For my chosen trim, l overlapped it over the bodice overlay by 1/2” (1.3cm). To do this, use a straight edge to measure over 1/2” (1.3cm) from the finished topstitched bodice overlay edge. Draw a line with a disappearing ink pen. Line up the edge of the trim on the drawn line and pin in place.  Topstitch the trim to the bodice overlay.  I’ve used dark thread for contrast to show where I’ve placed my topstitch lines.  Cut off any excess trim on the top and bottom of the bodice and repeat on the other side.  Assemble the bodice as normal.



The second way to add trim to the Birmingham bodice overlay is to sandwich it in between the bodice main and bodice overlay piece.  First, you’ll prepare the bodice overlay by pressing the raw, side edges 1/2” (1.3cm) wrong sides together.  Place the bodice overlay on top of the bodice to figure out how much of the trim you would like peeking out. 

For this particular trim, I overlapped it by 1/2” (1.3 cm).  Start by cutting two pieces of trim a little longer than the length of the bodice overlay.  Flip the bodice overlay over so the wrong side is facing up.  Place a piece of double sided “wonder tape” along the folded edge of the bodice overlay then peel away the backing.  Lay the trim piece right side facing down right along the raw edge.  Flip the bodice overlay over and align it with the neckline of the bodice main.  Pin in place and topstitch using a 1/8” (0.3 cm) seam allowance. (Note: If not using wonder tape, unfold the pressed edge and pin/baste the trim to the raw edge of the overlay piece. The right side of the trim will touch the right side of the bodice overlay.  Refold/press the edge and finish as directed above.)



To add a trim to the flutters, begin by preparing and topstitching the flutters as directed by the pattern.  The flutter sleeve option included in the Birmingham pattern offers a perfect base for easily adding trim because the flutter is hemmed along the straight edge. I wanted my 7/8” (2.2 cm) trim to hang off the edge of my flutter sleeve just a bit to highlight the details and scalloped edge. 

To create this look, use a straight edge and a disappearing ink pen to mark a line 1/2” (1.3 cm) from the finished edge.  You may need to increase or decrease width from the edge depending on the size of the trim.  Cut two pieces of trim approximately 1” (2.5 cm) longer than the flutter.  Place the edge of the trim along the drawn line and pin in place. Topstitch the trim to the flutter sleeve.  I’ve used dark thread for contrast to show where I’ve placed my topstitch lines.  Cut any excess trim off the ends of the flutter following along the curve of the pattern piece.  Repeat for the other flutter.  Gather as usual when ready to attach the flutters to the bodice.



Trims (narrow or wide) can be added to the right or wrong side of the hem of the skirt. For this tutorial, I’ll be showing how to attach a narrow 7/8” (2.2 cm) trim underneath the skirt hem to add a sweet and subtle detail.  To create this look, start by pressing the skirt for hemming.  Create a 1/2” (1.3 cm) hem allowance.  To achieve this, serge the bottom, raw edge of the skirt with a 1/4" (0.3 cm) seam allowance, press it to the wrong side and then press it another 1/2” (1.3 cm) OR cut the skirt pattern piece 1/4" (0.3 cm) longer than instructed, press the bottom, raw edge 1/4” (0.3 cm) to the wrong side, and then press it another 1/2” (1.3 cm).  Do not topstitch the hem at this time.  Find the back center of the skirt piece by folding the piece in half width wise and marking the middle with a disappearing ink pen. Cut one long piece of trim the circumference of the entire skirt plus 2 (5 cm) inches of ease for overlapping at the back seam.

Align and pin the edge of the trim right along the top edge of the allowance. Start by drawing a vertical line directly onto the trim 1” (2.5 cm) from the end of the piece.  Line up this line along the previously drawn line indicating the center of the skirt back piece.  Continue pinning the trim to the skirt all the way around until the back center is reached again.  Draw another vertical line on the other end of the trim piece, right where it meets the center of the skirt back.  Cut the trim piece 1” (2.5 cm) beyond the line.  The two ends of the trim piece will be stitched together right on this line. Unpin a few inches of trim from the skirt piece at this time to be able to maneuver it onto your sewing machine. Stitch together with the right sides of your trim touching.  Trim the seam allowance to 1/4” (0.6 cm) and zig zag or serge to prevent fraying. Press to one side. Topstitch the trim and skirt hem in place 1/8” (.3 cm) from the top edge of the trim.



Adding large or wide trim either vertically or horizontally to the front of a bodice can really transform the look into something unique and special!  Basting spray is an easy and efficient way to temporarily adhere trim to the bodice, omitting the need for excessive pinning. This can be especially helpful when using a trim that is delicate or shifts a lot.  All of the following steps will be done on the bodice main only. First, visualize the placement of the trim. 

Vertical trim can easily be centered down the front of the bodice by ironing the bodice main in half.  Measure the width of the trim, divide that number in half, and then measure over that amount to the right and to the left of the ironed center line.  For example, my trim is 2 ¼” (5.7 cm).   I measured over 1 1/8” (2.8 cm) from my center line to create 2 new lines.  Spray the back of the trim lightly with basting spray. 

Then carefully lay the trim down along the center of the bodice, using the lines to center the trim.  (If basting spray is not used, pin in several places to prevent the trim from shifting when topstitching).  Topstitch onto the bodice.  I’ve used dark thread for contrast to show where I’ve placed my topstitch lines.  If topstitching along curved lines, stop sewing at each point with the needle down, lift the presser foot, pivot the bodice and continue sewing.  Cut off any excess trim along the top neckline curve and bottom edge of the bodice.



Wide trims can also be added to the bottom of your bodice.  I chose a 2 ½” (6.35 cm) trim for this option.  Start by drawing a line ¼” (0.6 cm) up from the bottom, raw edge of the front bodice.  Spray the back of the trim with basting spray.  Lay the trim down along the bottom edge of the bodice, lining the bottom edge of the trim along the previously drawn line.  (If basting spray is not used, pin in several places to prevent the trim from shifting when topstitching).  Topstitch onto the bodice.  I’ve used dark thread for contrast to show where I’ve placed my topstitch lines.  Cut off any excess trim from the sides of the bodice.  Once the dress is fully completed, the bottom edge of the trim will be enclosed when the skirt is added and the side edges will be enclosed when the side seams are sewn together with the bodice back. For a different look, place the trim higher across the chest.



Pintucks offer the perfect foundation to add trim without any modification! Little Lizard King offers several gorgeous patterns with pintuck details including; Lorne, Lenox, Kensington, Wimberley, and Maleny.  Some patterns include pintuck instructions using a rectangular piece of fabric as the base.  This gives you the ability to use this as a template to create almost any bodice with pintucks!  I’ve sewn my rectangle with pintucks according to the instructions for Kensington and cut my Birmingham bodice using this piece.

When adding trim to pintucks, you will want to choose trim that is at least 3/8” (1 cm) in width.  I’ve chosen two different types of trim for this tutorial, 3/8” (1 cm) and 5/8” (1.6 cm) widths to give a visual comparison.   After you’ve chosen your trim, slide it underneath each pintuck and line up the inside trim edge to the stitch line of the pintuck.  Cut each trim piece a little longer than the bodice. Cut off any excess along the curve of the neckline.  Pin the trim pieces in place.  Placing pins vertically up the length of the pintuck can help ensure the trim stays straight.  Topstitch in place, about 1/8” (0.3 cm) from the finished pintuck edge.  The trim is now sandwiched in between the pintuck fold and the bodice, and you’re ready to complete your bodice as directed!



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