Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More Horsehair Braid Techniques

A commenter yesterday mentioned not being keen on the top-stitched effect of my horsehair braid technique. No problemo! Top stitching is just one of several ways you can secure horsehair braid to a hem. The way I show it in this tutorial, the horsehair is acting as a facing. It finishes the hem and then gets stitched down. This is a pretty casual technique, and appropriate mainly for informal garments.

However, if you don't want your hem to show, you'll need to make use of an underlining. Silk organza is a lovely choice for underlining a full skirt in a fabric with some body.

The horsehair can be attached with the same facing technique as above but catch stitched to the underlining only rather than top-stitched through all layers. This is the technique I used with my yellow dress, which was underlined in a bright yellow silk organza. (I blogged the underlining process here.)

Here's the inside:

And the outside! The horsehair hem is undetectable.

But wait! There are even more options. You can also completely enfold the horsehair into a hem, rather than using it as a facing. That's what I'm doing with the coat I'm working on. Susan Khalje had some great tips for this process. The coat is wool flannel, underlined in silk organza. First, I started by basting the two layers together at the hem so they wouldn't shift.

Basting stitches from the outside

Basting stitches on the inside
Next, you place the horsehair braid so that the bottom is right on the hemline. Tack the horsehair to the underlining only with a loose running stitch.
 Next, pull the cord in the horsehair so it matches the curve of your skirt.

Catch stitch the horsehair to the organza underlining only. Your stitches should be big and fairly loose so that they can move with the coat.

 Fold up the hem and hand stitch to the underlining.

One more possibility: if your pattern has a hem facing, you could also nestle the horsehair within the facing.

So many options!

I really like the horsehair that Steinlauf and Stoller stocks (here's the product page). I've noticed a big difference in quality from place to place, and their stuff is the good stuff. Nice and sturdy. You don't want any of that floppy braid! You have to call or e-mail them to place an order. But don't be shy; they're awesome. All their info is on the site.


  1. Hey Gertie! I've found no horsehair from the most likely of notions stores here in Italy. Do you have any sources for online sellers? (Can't wait to see that coat!)

    1. Some of the time if you live outside if the US they may give items of the same nature different names. I have learned this from reading blogs from outside of the US. Ask around with the description and maybe you will discover it has a different name.

  2. Hey Gertie, a bit of the same question here, I'm from Belgium, but the term horsehair braid isn't known here. Do you know another term or like Andrea asked, do you know an online international store? Thx Evie

  3. Hi guys, the source I already mentioned is the only one I can personally recommend. Like I said, quality varies widely. I'm sure Steinlauf & Stoller would ship internationally. If you can't call them, you can e-mail mailto:steinlauf@rcn.com.

  4. Interesting to see some different ways of inserting the braids. I love the effect they give! Sadly, I haven't found any in Sweden. As ordering from outside the European Union lands Swedes with a 20$ fee + tax + VAT, does anyone know of a good source for these from a seller within the EU? I've only managed to find some nylon ones that didn't have a drawstring... I'm grateful for any leads! =)

  5. is it absolutely necessary to underline your garment if you don't want to topstitch? i ask because i've recently been putting horsehair braid in, well, everything, and i have just been catchstitching the top of the braid directly to my skirt fabric (the bottom is machine-stitched on and then folded up). it retains the shape and seems to be holding up perfectly well, but is that the "wrong" way to do it?

  6. For Chicago locals, horsehair trim can be had at Vogue Fabrics (also online). I also think it comes in different colors. You might try some of the millinery shops online, Judith M comes to mind.

  7. Handler in Denmark has horsehair or hestehårsbånd. You can get it in a width of 0.78 cm to 12 cm.
    I do warn you though, she is expensive, but has really good quality stuff, she is supplier to all the theatrical seamstresses in Copenhagen.

  8. Well, horsehair braid is also known as crinor or simply crin. I did find some on Etsy in this shop, but I don't have any experience from buying from this shop so I don't know of the quality of their products but they do ship internationally.


  9. Thanks for rescuing this technique and re-presenting it to the home seamstress.

  10. I've tried the Vogue Fabrics horsehair and it's very flimsy. I would only recommend it for very lightweight fabrics.

    lladybird, if it worked, it's not wrong! I just recommend underlining if you want to guarantee that your hem is invisible.

  11. Underlining my skirt is probably my best bet, although it goes against all my natural laziness. I'll test blindhemming too, just to see what I can get away with. It'll be good for my sewing soul to have a slippery lining in place when it comes back to weather that requires tights..

  12. tania-gru; thank you so much! That was perfect, just what I was looking for! Getting things from Denmark is after all a bit easier than from US =)
    Got to order some and try using it! Thanks again!

  13. Hey Gertie....I'm on the website that you recommended, what's the difference between "regular" and "firm" horsehair braid? I mean, I'm sure each has it's uses, what are they? I'd like to order some!

  14. great post! thanks for the info!


  15. good tips, I've recently bought horsehair braid and can't wait to try out :)

  16. A totally tangential question--on the other post, you said that you do a visible topstitch for a less informal garment. How does one style silk to be informal? Because I have a lot of beautiful silk (dupioni) that I would like to sew into something I could wear just as an everyday thing, but can't see how. I did pick up some raw silk which looks wonderfully casual, but your hammered silk looks more shiny and dressy.

  17. In the UK Sewessential, MacCulloch and Wallis and Klein's sell it online. But they call it crin and/or "horsehair braid"
    Klein's only ship in the UK but MacCulloch and Wallis and Sewessential look as if they would ship internationally. I hope that may be useful. It's very helpful to see a range of different options for attaching it set out here. Do remember that the ends can be a bit scratchy if they are not covered or well sewn down.

  18. I referred back to this post now that I have horsehair braid, which my parents brought me from the USA. My horsehair braid is quite narrow, though! I'm going to try nestling it like you suggested inside the fold of the hem. I don't have an underlining but I'll improvise. I wonder if it'll work as well as your wide horsehair braid. Thanks for the explanation!

  19. Hi,
    I was reading your blog on Horsehair braid and thought it sounded like it would be good for hemming my daughter wedding dress the fabric is a medium weight silk double crepe. I ordered some but it seems quite stiff for the fabric. Maybe I should do a trial on a scrap piece of the fabric. Would you normally just use it on cotton fabrics?

  20. OMG, your hair is gorgeous here! The hem and all is nice, but your hair. I AM LOVIN' IT.

  21. I Have a few projects for some upcoming costumes that I think really need the Horsehair trim. I would love to buy a good bit of it in bulk as I can see myself using it all the time. I am scared however that I will end up getting a width that wont translate from project to project. How do you know what width to use?

  22. This is so great. Thank you! I used the method you used on your yellow dress with some half inch braid, and my dress hem is lovely.


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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