How to sew horsehair braid 2023 UPDATED**

How to sew horsehair braid

Have you ever had a dress you wished would twirl a little more or a sleeve that needed more power?  Learn to sew horsehair braid in this week’s technique tutorial.

What is horsehair braid?

Horsehair braid is a semi-flexible netting made of nylon or polyester.  Crinoline netting gives more shape or form to a desired area.  It comes in various widths and colors.  Generally, horsehair braid can be found in black, white, and cream in most shops and is sold by the yard or package. However, in a super duper fantastic store, you can find horsehair braid in every color underneath the sun. I’ve also purchased it from Amazon, especially with stores like closing. The quality of the netting and weave can vary greatly, so buyers beware.  If you are not very familiar with the product, I would advise only buying in person or with the advice of a friend.

Type of horsehair braid
Types of horsehair braid

Typically, I buy it in large quantities on my scheduled fabric runs to Atlanta (Fine Fabrics and Gail K), San Francisco (Britex Fabrics), LA (Mood Fabrics), Paris (Le Marche St Pierre), or New York City (almost any fabric boutique).  You can also order from Wawak, but it only comes in natural colors like those mentioned above. You can purchase horsehair braid of various lengths and widths that matter when finishing your garment. Almost any fabric store will have it if they sell fabrics for making fine garments, but beware, prices vary widely.  I’ve purchased this notion from anywhere from 50 cents to 2.20 per yard, depending on my level of desperation.

The large fabric stores sell horsehair also but generally only in a package.  I wouldn’t ask anyone because they probably won’t know what in the world you are talking about.  I did this experiment at my local Joann store.  They are great but if you don’t use this particular notion, you won’t know it’s even there.  Below I’ve provided a picture of one of the more popular brands of horsehair braid that is found commercially by the pack.

Where do you use horsehair braid?

My use of horsehair braid is almost exclusively limited hems and sleeves.  It gives body to an otherwise flat area–hems in large skirts, peplums, sleeves, hats, and other projects.  The beauty of horsehair braid is the it adds body without adding weight.  

How to install horsehair braid

Measure twice, cut once

First, you should decide how much horsehair you want to use.  Nothing is worse than getting to the middle of the skirt and realizing you don’t have enough of the braid to make the round.  Once you have a good idea of how much you need, add 2-3 inches.

Apply the tape

Generally, for tops, I don’t adjust the hem length to account for the braid, but you can if you want it exactly the perfect length.  Let’s walk through my peplum top.  The exact length of the hemline wasn’t a big deal to me, so I did not lengthen or shorten it to account for the horsehair.

On the RIGHT side of the hem apply the braid at the back seam leaving about 1/2″ overlap.  Make sure that the raw edge of the hem lines up with the edge of the RIGHT side of the hem.

Step 1: Line up the horsehair braid with the fabric edge

Stitch at the desired hemline WITHOUT stretching the horsehair braid.  I chose a 1/4″ at 2.5mm stitch length.

Step 2: Line up and stitch the horsehair braid

Pictured above I’m using 1″ horsehair braid on the edge of the hem.  I often unconventionally use presser feet to fit my purpose.  I like using the zipper foot because I can SEE and I have more CONTROL.  You could also use the walking foot sometimes the bulk gets in the way of me visualizing the project.

Vogue 1572 in Ankara

Horsehair braid is ITCHY once you cut it so when you get to the end cover the exposed tails with scraps of lining, china silk or light weight binding.

Next turn the braid to the inside or WRONG side.

Gently press on the right side without stretching and without high heat.

Now your horsehair should be on the INSIDE and the hem edge should be clean.  

Top-stitch the horsehair braid at the desired length and width.  Gently press. Viola! It’s time to party.

Tips for using horsehair braid:

  • Do not iron it, it often melts quickly! Press on the opposite side with a cool iron
  • Try NOT to pull stretch or over manipulate the braid.  This leads to distorted and wonky finished products
  • Measure the braid and then apply to avoid having to rip it out or stagger multiple pieces.