Monday, January 20, 2014

Reinforcing corners in a seam

The Gucci-inspired dress I was working on in December - images of the finished dress to follow later - had those pesky inward corners where the sleeve is attached to the bodice. You see them highlighted in pink below. Reinforcing those corners was critical, because they are located in an area that is under a lot of stress.

Technical drawing (source

There are couple of ways to reenforce inward corners, and if you have ever worked with gussets you may know some techniques. The simplest method is to stitch along the stitching line in the corner area. Here, I want to demonstrate another technique, which I used in my dress and which I haven't yet seen in any book. I've spotted it in an exquisite and possibly custom-made vintage dress and took pictures to recreate later.

Now, I have to warn you that this method may not be the most time-efficient one as it requires the use of the buttonhole stitch. However, it does offer more strength, control and, thus, precision. If you had some practice with hand-worked buttonholes, you may need about 10 min for each corner.

Whether you will use this technique or not, consider this post to be a research of custom or couture sewing techniques, rather than a suggestion that this is the only valid way to handle corners. I have to say this, because I occasionally get dismissive comments on how some techniques are waste of time. So, here we go.


Clip into the inward corner, as on the image below, stopping 2 mm before the corner. Measure the clipped edge, and note it down. Cut four isosceles right triangles,  that is triangles with two shorter equal sides adjacent to a right angle. The shorter sides should be cut on grain. The longer side (or hypotenuse) should be double the length of the cut.

Here, I cut the triangles in wool flannel, the same fabric as the dress, but after making the first sample decided to switch to silk organza to reduce bulk. This is one of those cases where making a sample keeps you out of trouble. 


Place the triangle on the wrong side of the fabric, aligning the hypotenuse (the longer side) with one of the cut edges of the clipped-in corner. The stitching line should be thread-traced, rather than just marked in chalk as on my sample (I improved with my following samples). When thread-tracing, it is important that the stitch length is shorter at the corner to provide an accurate guide for all the following steps.

STEP 3. 

Using a short buttonhole stitch, stitch the triangle along the clipped-in corner edges. The image below shows you the finished edge from the right side of the fabric

... and the finished edge from the wrong side.


Here, you can see how the corner looks from the wrong side after the seam allowance was pressed. In my dress, obviously, there is also a sleeve, but the principle is the same. I included this image without the sleeve, so you can see why I was placing the triangle on the wrong side of fabric for stitching. This way, the bulk of the buttonhole stitch is on the top of the seam allowance, rather than sandwiched between the layers. This considerably reduces possible imprint when pressing the garment.

The same corner from the right side. There is still a slight imprint on the sample - I should have put paper under the seam allowance when pressing. When underlining is used this is less of an issue.

That's it.

Have you worked with inward corners? What techniques do you use to reinforce them? 


  1. It has been a while since I reinforced a corner. Your method is lovely if time consuming and worth knowing.

  2. I use a similar method , but machine stitch a piece of organza unless it's very delicate fabric. I'm looking forward to seeing your finished dress:)

  3. Thanks for posting. I'm always grateful for those that take their time to share with others.

  4. This is a lovely technique and I will definitely give it a try next time I face this challenge. Thanks, Marina.

  5. I always look forward to any techniques you can pass along. Thanks Marina.

  6. Great technique, thanks! I've done a similar thing with a V-neck dress - using organza as a 'minifacing'. I didn't, however, use a buttonhole stitch to reinforce the seam allowances as you did - very neat idea :)

  7. Thank you for sharing this interesting technique!

  8. I had the dress pattern from Burdastyle but I am afraid of make it because of those inward corner. So, thank you so much for sharing the technique. I'll give it a try on my future project :-)

  9. Thank you for all your lovely posts on this pattern, I intend to make the same dress myself (even before your series here), so I was very happy to see you were going to make it as well, and your comments and tips will be very helpful when I come to make it myself!

  10. Thanks for posting this! I always get so nervous about corners like this that I don't clip in close enough to the corners and then things don't turn cleanly. I can't wait to use this technique!

  11. It is always helpful for me to have a visual when utilizing a new technique and I appreciate your taking the time to share your knowledge. Can't wait to see your dress!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...