How Do You Sew Trim on a Pillow?

While trimmings are such a small element of your overall design, they can really make or break the room. Sew on the incorrect matching color or choose a garish trim for your accent pillows and you’re done for. 

What’s worse, if you sew trim onto a pillow and don’t use the correct neat method, you may end up with an ugly piece of soft furnishings that you will want to donate to the Salvation Army in a heartbeat. 

To correctly sew trim on a pillow, you should first choose the best and most appropriate trim that is within your sewing skills to add to your pillow. Next, you should pre-shrink the trimmings to ensure it doesn’t shrink when you sew it on. After this, you should carefully pin the trim in place, making sure that you carefully fold box pleats on the corners or cut away excess trim. 

Finally, sewing the trim on with a sewing machine will be easiest, and it will create a professional finish. 

7 Steps to Sewing Trim on a Pillow

If you work with a plan, you will have a professionally sewn pillow within no time at all. Follow these steps and achieve a great designer look:

Step One: Choose the Best Trim

Consider the overall look of your room’s decor. Not all trim will go with any room. Some trimmings are specifically designed for a type of style or look you will be creating. 

If you already have a busy fabric you are using for the pillow, adding plush trim with long fringes and pom pom tassels may be way too much. Likewise, if you have a very plain fabric, adding a simple corded trim may work, but you could be missing out on the opportunity to create a wonderful statement with a more luxurious trim. 

You could also consider combining different trimmings for a layered look, though this may be best explored by those more experienced in sewing. Different types of trim can also present a challenge in terms of the thickness the sewing machine needs to work through. For very thick trim, you may need an industrial sewing machine, or you may be required to sew the trim by hand. 

Step Two: Shrink Your Trim

Not all trim is pre-shrunk. To be on the safe side, it is a good idea to pre-treat your trim by shrinking it. We normally do this before measuring and cutting the trim. You may be surprised by how much a section of trim can actually shrink when exposed to water. This is especially true for tapes and cords. 

Wind your trim into a neat roll. Place the trim into a stocking or sock. Tie this shut, ensuring the trim won’t accidentally end up falling out during the wash. To wash and pre-shrink your trim, place the sock in the washing machine on a lukewarm and gentle setting. 

Dry the trim in the drier on the lowest setting, or air dry it in a shady spot. Try not to let heavier trim hang by pinning it to the washing line. This could lead to stretching. 

Step Three: Measure Your Trim

Using a flexible measuring tape, measure the length of trim needed for the entire outer distance around the pillow you will be sewing the trim to. Add an additional 2-3 inches to your final measurement. Cut with sharp scissors or sewing shears. 

Next, seal both ends of the trim. You can use painter’s tape or sticky tape to close up the ends of the trim. Some trim will fray easily, while others will pull and disintegrate if you don’t seal them. 

If you are using a synthetic corded trim, you can use a lighter to gently melt the end, sealing it by clamping on the end with a set of pliers. This stops the thinner synthetic threads from fraying. You can use the same method for ribbons that are usually synthetic to stop the edge from unravelling. 

Step Four: Pin the Trim in Place

Start attaching your trim with sewing pins. You can start the trim at a corner or just after a corner (especially if you are sewing a tape to the pillow). Insert a pin every couple of inches, making sure to flatten the trim and the edge of the pillow. 

Step Five: Start Sewing

Start sewing where the trim begins. Work slowly, using an appropriate stitch size. For thicker trim like woven tassels or cords, you may use a longer stitch. Thinner trim or tape would require a smaller stitch size. 

If you are sewing on a wide trim such as a wide brocade tape, you may need to sew the tape at the top and bottom. In this case, it may be better to sew the top of the tape on one side of the pillow, end the stitch, return to the beginning, and sew the bottom of the tape on that side. This prevents the tape from pulling before you get to the other side.

Step Six: Perfect Corners

Corners are often intimidating to those who are new to the world of sewing. The key is to pin the corner completely in place before you sew. You can use any number of corner methods from folding a box pleat to tucking the excess in and sewing a closed seam. 

Whichever method you use, be sure to check that the trim doesn’t pull and follows the same tension level as the rest of the trim. 

Step Seven: Ending off the Trim

The moment of truth comes in when you approach the end of the trim section. If you measured correctly and pinned the trim securely, you will have no worries. After all, you had an additional two inches of trim for any eventualities. 

If you have a lot of excess trim left, you can cut some of it off. Be sure to edge and seal any potential fray edges. Now pin the end of the trim in place. You may fold over thinner trim like tapes or ribbons. Thicker tapes may need to end flush with the beginning point to prevent bunching. 

Make sure your trim is neatly finished. This is often the area where poorly sewn trim comes loose and looks unprofessional. 

The Final Cut-Off

Wonderful! You’ve successfully made your first trimmed pillow. Be sure to follow the correct care and wash instructions for both the fabric and trim of your pillow in future.

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