Horsehair Braid


Blogger: Annie Ledford-Lomeli 


The holiday season is approaching and that means it is time to make all of your favorite special occasion patterns! Whether you use special occasion fabrics or simple cotton wovens, you can take your dresses and skirts to the next level by hemming with horsehair braid. Our latest pattern, Meredith, is the perfect pattern for a horsehair braid hem. It has so many skirt possibilities. For this tutorial, I will be layering the Meredith mini and standard length simple double circle skirts.


What is horsehair braid?

Horsehair braid is a bias woven, nylon mesh that is used to add structure and body to your sewing projects. Sometimes known as crinoline, horsehair braid comes in two weights, soft and heavy/stiff, as well as a variety of colors and sizes ranging from 1/2” (1.3 cm) to 6” (15.2 cm). You can find horsehair braid with or without a gathering thread. The gathering thread is recommended when applying the braid to a circle skirt as it will allow the top of the braid to become smaller, making it easier to finish the hem. 


I prefer soft horsehair braid for the majority of my projects. If I am using a very heavy fabric like velvet, I will use the stiff/heavy option. For this tutorial, I will be using a pink 2” (5 cm) soft horsehair braid without a gathering thread on both a satin and organza fabric.


If your horsehair braid doesn’t have a gathering thread and you will be attaching it to a circle skirt, it can be helpful to prep the braid first. Set your iron to the synthetic setting. Test a small area to make sure the iron will not melt the braid. Run the tip of the iron over one edge of the braid in a circular motion. This will lengthen one side and slightly shorten the other, making it easier to fit the circle skirt.


The ends of horsehair braid can be irritating to the skin so they will need to be covered. For woven fabrics that are not see through, use the same fabric as the skirt. For see through fabrics like organza or tulle, use a fabric that is the same color, preferably with a tight weave that can not be penetrated by the horsehair braid. For this tutorial, I will be using contrasting quilting weight cotton for the horsehair braid stops on both the satin and organza. Use the table below to determine what size to cut your stop piece.

See Through Fabrics- 

Tulle, Organza, Chiffon, ect…

Non-See Through Fabrics-

Satin, Quilting Cotton, Brocade, ect…

Double the Width of the HHB by 1 ½” (3.8 cm)

Width of the HHB + ½” (1.3 cm) by 1 ½” (3.8 cm)

For the top skirt I will be using see through organza so I have cut the stop piece 

4” (10.2 cm) by 1 ½” (3.8 cm). For the underskirt I will be using satin so I have cut the stop piece 

2 ½” (6.4 cm) by 1 ½” (3.8 cm). 

Fold the stop piece in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Press to create a memory crease. Unfold. Fold the outside, long raw edges to meet the center crease, wrong sides together. Press.

Unfold the stop piece and place it right side up. Align one end of the horsehair braid to one long side and the perpendicular short side. Pin/clip to hold in place.

Non-See Through Fabrics Only

Fold down the top ½” (1.3 cm), right sides together. Pin/clip to hold in place. 

Sew along the memory crease to secure the braid to the stop piece. 

Turn right side out.


Construct the skirt per the tutorial, leaving the hem unsewn. Place the skirt right side up and center the stop piece on one of the skirt seams. Align the bottom raw edge of the stop piece, to the bottom raw edge, of the skirt with right sides together. Unfold the unsewn memory crease. Begin sewing the horsehair braid to the skirt with a 1/4” (0.6 cm) seam allowance, starting at the center of the stop piece. 

Continue sewing around the skirt, aligning the braid as you go. Do not stretch while sewing. Stop sewing approximately 2 - 3” (5 - 7.6 cm) before the starting point. Align the horsehair braid to the remainder of the skirt and stop piece. Trim the horsehair braid where it meets the other end. Remove from the machine. 


Unfold the unsewn memory crease and align the end of the horsehair braid to the long, raw edge with right sides together. Fold down the remaining portion of the stop piece, right sides together. Pin/clip to hold in place. The horsehair braid will be sandwiched between the stop piece. Sew to attach along the memory crease. This will be a bit tricky so adjust as needed while sewing. 


Turn the stop piece and horsehair braid right side out. Realign the unsewn portion of the horsehair braid to the edge of the skirt. Using a 1/4” (0.6 cm) seam allowance, sew to attach the remaining unsewn horsehair braid and stop piece.

Fold the horsehair braid to the wrong side of the skirt, enclosing the bottom edges in the fold. Press with a low heat setting. Alternatively, use a pressing cloth and higher heat. This will ensure the horsehair braid does not melt. The wrong side of the skirt will be touching the wrong side of the horsehair braid.  Edgestitch to secure the horsehair braid to the skirt. If horsehair braid with a gathering thread was used, remove the gathering thread after sewing.


Turn the skirt right side out and press the entire hem using high heat and a pressing cloth. You are done! Continue on with the pattern tutorial.

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