How to sew a couched edge finish


The other day, I was perusing the Bernina blog and came across a tutorial for an edge finish technique I’d never tried before – a couched edge using cord.

Susan over at We All Sew demonstrates this technique for craft and decorative projects such as book covers and wall hangings, but I wondered how it would look on a garment. It seemed like a fast and interesting alternative to piping, and one you could apply even after a garment is finished.

Basically, to do this, a purchased cord is sewn directly to the edge of a garment using a zigzag stitch.



For this technique, you use the #12 Bulky Overlock foot. I highly recommend this foot, not just for couching like this, but also for installing piping. It’s perfect, much nicer than a piping foot in my experience.

You’ll also need some cord. Bernina recommends 4-6mm cord.


The cord is sewn to the edge using a zigzag stitch. It can be attached to a finished edge (like this), or sewn on top of a raw edge, though that would be easiest with non-fraying fabrics.


I backstitched over the end of the cord to keep it from unraveling as I began stitching.

Ideally, you’d add the cording to an edge before sewing the seams, so that the edge of the cord is caught in the seam. But that won’t always work, in which case it can be sewn in the round, tucking the edges underneath at the start/end point.


I think this technique would look really cool on a nautical-inspired garment. You could even use additional cording to create some surface details, by sewing it on top of the garment in rows or patterns.

You can read the full instructions on this edge finish over at We All Sew >

This post presented in partnership with Bernina, one of our sponsors this month. You can find more handy tutorials using incredible Bernina equipment at their blog, We All Sew, where I found this technique.

Like what you read here? Subscribe to our blog via email so you don’t skip a stitch! And sign up for our weekly Snippets email for even more sewing tips and tricks.


What trips you up every single time?


I have a sewing achilles heel. What about you?

I don’t know why, but the same blind spot pops up over and over. It seems to be some sort of mental block that I just can’t overcome: I keep cutting things upside down.

See, I’m a fast cutter. It’s never been my favorite part of the sewing process, so I tend to whiz through it pretty fast. I’ll put on my headphones, get out the old rotary, and glide right through. I never pay attention to cutting layouts, since they’re usually imperfect.

It’s only after I cut that I seem to remember that some fabrics have directionality.

(In other words, some prints can’t be cut upside down or they look, well… upside down.)

The worst example I recall was this Negroni I made for Kenn in this wonderful (and expensive) Liberty print. I was taking so much care to match up the print exactly right along the front, and even on the pockets. I mean, look at those pockets:


The moment I finished cutting, I realized that I had cut the back yoke upside down. Even when I’m paying attention I cut upside down.

Luckily, I had enough fabric to fix my mistake, but it definitely wasn’t the last time I did it. Thankfully, I’ve always managed to fix my mistakes somehow.

Who knows? Maybe writing about it like this will finally get it through my skull to check for direction before I cut.

Do you have any issues that constantly trip you up when you sew? What’s your achilles heel and how do you fight it?


Free class: Bag Making Basics with Kristin Link on Craftsy


I’ve often heard the advice that when you’re shopping for clothes, you should evaluate purchases in terms of cost-per-wear.

I try to take the same approach with sewing. Instead of thinking about the monetary cost, I think about the time I’ll spend. That’s what makes challenging projects like tailored coats worthwhile in the end, but it also makes quick projects exciting.

If you think about it that way, few things you can sew rank as high on the time-cost-per-wear scale as a bag. Not only are they fairly quick to sew up, but it’s something you can actually use every single day. Plus, no fitting!


If you want to learn some of the basics of bag making, Craftsy is offering this free class taught by the lovely Kristin Link. You might know Kristin from Sew, Mama, Sew, one of the handiest sewing blogs around and a total inspiration when I started my own blog. She’s an amazing lady we’ve known for years.

The class covers two different projects. The first is a reversible tote, and the second a zippered pouch. These are really nice weekend projects, or a great introduction to sewing if you’re a newbie.


Kristin is a fantastic teacher with a clear and straightforward style. You’ll be guided through every step of the process with clear video lessons, from cutting your fabric to mastering those tricky corners and closures. Personally, I find that video really helps you to visualize some of these techniques.




This is really great intro to bag making, and will teach you many of the skills you need to make any bag in the future.

Enroll for free in Bag Making Basics >

{This free class is brought to you by Craftsy, one of our partners this month. Thanks Craftsy!}


Call for submissions!


Thanks everyone for your amazing support (and feedback, thoughts, and questions) on our new venture announced yesterday.

I know some folks were asking about the price, and I’ll be announcing those kinds of details closer to the actual launch on December 1. Again, hop on the preview list if you want more details and behind the scenes as things progress. I’m going to send out a personal letter with behind the scenes stuff each Friday until the launch.

But today, I wanted to ask you to contribute – by writing for Seamwork!

Call for Submissions: Spring 2015

We’re looking for techniques, how-tos, embellishments, fabric guides, and short essays. See our full submission guidelines for exact specifications.

Right now, we’re looking for articles for the spring. The deadline for this submission round is December 31. Themes include embellishments, color, florals, and other spring prints and textiles. Suggested topics (this is by no means an exhaustive list, so get creative):

  • Embellishment tutorials. Anything that can be used to pretty up a garment, from applique to trims to bias tape and more.
  • In-depth guides to any type of spring fabric (linen? rayon?)
  • Guide to floral prints, history of florals, or a profile of a floral textile designer (contemporary or past). All things floral!
  • How to turn sketches, paintings, or photos of flowers into textile designs.
  • Guides to color, choosing colors, finding a palette.
  • Guides to dyeing fabric, natural dyes, or how-tos on dyeing specific kinds of fabric such as linen, cotton, or silk.
  • Short personal essays on color in clothing or sewing.
  • Other short thoughtful essays on sewing.

How to submit

If any of these topics (or just something related to these topics) gets your creative juices going, here’s what to do:

  1. Write up your article, following the guidelines for one of the three main types of artciles we’re looking for (guides, how-tos, or essays).
  2. Submit your article here.
  3. If we can use it for our current themes, we’ll let you know what to do from there and the exact compensation we can offer. If not, we’ll let you know that too (so you can still use it elsewhere). You will hear from us.

Photos to accompany your article are helpful, but not required.


What we’ve been working on for the last year


For the last year, we’ve been putting together something very new and very special.

It’s an online pattern magazine – we’re calling it Seamwork.

What is Seamwork?

Ok, I’m going to back up. Let me start by telling you how I like to sew.

  1. I love the occasional really juicy, challenging project like a coat that takes a few weeks.
  2. I love working on dresses and separates that take maybe a weekend (or longer) and involve some planning.
  3. And in between those, I love fitting in fast and satisfying projects where I get to experiment with something new.

It’s that balance that keeps me motivated. The big projects fill me with pride and get my brain going. The middle projects let me practice the fundamental skills and make fabulous things. And the quick projects fill up my wardrobe, give me a chance to play, and remind me how fun sewing can be.

Maybe you see where I’m going with this.

Our patterns are great for the first two categories, but with perhaps one exception (Mabel), they aren’t projects most of us can complete on a rainy afternoon when the mood strikes and you just want to make something new to wear (and have fun doing it).

I wanted to create more patterns like that – wardrobe staples you can put together in just a few hours. Simple but satisfying projects that complements (but don’t replace) our usual line.

But I didn’t want any old “quick and easy” patterns. I wanted projects that really give you a chance to do something new, to try a new skill or work with a new fabric – and to do it in a low-risk way.


Quick patterns, in-depth ideas

So that is how the idea came to me. What if we produced not just patterns, but an entire online magazine around them? What if each month, we produced in-depth articles on new sewing techniques, embellishment ideas, textiles, tips from designers, and more? And what if each issue came with lovely little patterns you could download to try out some new skills when the mood strikes?

I’d like to introduce you to our forthcoming digital magazine launching in December, Seamwork.

Each issue of Seamwork comes with two digital patterns that you can sew in three hours or less, making them easy to fit between your more involved sewing projects. Patterns include truly useful wardrobe items like knitwear, accessories, lingerie, loungewear, bags, and beautiful basics you can dress up. All can be sewn in 3 hours or less.

The articles in each issue take you in depth on sewing topics, from tips for sewing new fabrics to embroidery ideas to vintage details. It’s like this blog, but… more. More depth, more ideas, more pretty, more writers.


The details

I know you’ll have questions, so let’s see if I can preemptively answer some of them.

  1. Seamwork patterns will be all digital. That’s what will allow us to produce them each month without going broke! If you aren’t into digital patterns, see number 2.
  2. We’ll still be producing our printed pattern line, and just as many of them. This won’t affect our printed patterns, except it might allow us to do a few more challenging patterns as well. The goal is balance.
  3. You can subscribe to Seamwork and get the two patterns each month for a low rate. We planned it to be a super affordable way to sew.
  4. Basically, I wanted to price it so that even if you don’t make all the patterns, you could still easily get your money’s worth making just some of them (and maybe saving some for later).

  5. Anyone will be able to read the magazine online, whether you subscribe or not. But subscribers will get the patterns and any extra bonuses we offer in the future.
  6. At first, patterns will be exclusive to subscribers. We may eventually sell them individually, but we’re still figuring that out. Mainly for technical reasons.
  7. Gift subscriptions will be available in various amounts (so now you have something to add to your holiday wishlist).
  8. Patterns included in the subscription will be in our new size range of 0 to 26 (or XS to 3X).

Your thoughts?

I’d love to hear your feedback.

Even more, I’d love to hear your ideas on the types of patterns you’d like to see in the magazine. We have several months of patterns in the works, but I’m quite open to what you’d like to see, especially in Summer and Fall 2015. Remember, these will be quick and versatile (so more involved projects are still welcome, but will more likely be in our regular pattern line).

Write for us!

Finally, we are looking for writers! If you have an idea for a truly amazing sewing article, join us!

I’ll be publishing a call for submissions tomorrow with full details on how to submit an article to us and writing guidelines. Think fabric guides, techniques, beautiful embellishments, and even short essays. If you are a professional or semi-professional sewing writer (or want to become one), we’d love to hear from you.


Get a preview, win free patterns

If you want to see a preview of the types of things we’ll be publishing, enter your email address to get on the preview list.

I’ll be sending out more on the first issue launching December 1st, and maybe even a preview look at the first two patterns.

When you sign up at the link below, you’ll also be given a special link that you can share with others. For each friend that also signs up for our preview list, you’ll be entered for a chance to win one of five one-year pattern subscriptions – that will be 24 patterns (!).

In other words, the more friends you share with, the more chances to win!

I hope you’re as excited about this as I am. More patterns, more tutorials, more everything in 2015 and beyond!


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