Sewing Trims and Notions

Sewing trims and notions are both the functional and decorative details for putting a garment or project together.

You can find trims and notions in any fabric store, craft stores and department stores that have a sewing section.

Of course, you can find sewing trims and notions on line as well. If you cannot find what you need in a fabric store, I recommend looking at stores on the internet.

Sewing Thread


It may be tempting to reach into a discount bin of low-grade thread spools, from your local fabric store.

Sewing Thread
Serger Thread

I don't  recommend doing this, the price may be right but in this case you do get what you pay for, poor quality.

Purchase the well-known brand names of sewing trims and notions such as Coats thread, Mettler thread, Wrights thread, and Metrosene thread to name a few.

All these brands carry a variety of colors and thread types for any project.

Thread is also spun for different machines. Smaller spools of thread intended for regular sewing machines, should not be used for sergers and vice versa.

  • The reason is, serger cones, in the photo above, are spun looser than smaller thread spools intended for your regular sewing machine. Regular spools are spun tighter and this gives a stronger thread and sewing result.
  • It is not recommended to use serger thread and sewing machine thread together. For example, winding your bobbin with serger thread and using regular machine thread for the top stitch can result in uneven stitches and thread tension.
  • Another note about thread is it can be used for decoration as well as putting your projects seams together. So experiment on scraps with different types and colors of threads.
  • Instead of using sewing trims for decoration, you could decorate hems and garments with thread. Your regular machine may have decorative stitches available. These decorative stitches used along with decorative threads will add a nice sewing trim detail. The same is true for your serger. Try colorful threads and stitches your serger may have to offer for a more decorative effect.

Cotton Wrapped Polyester Thread

Most commonly used for all fabric types. This is what you will use for all your general sewing needs. Any thread made with polyester gives stretch for sewing knit fabrics. Knits have quite a lot of movement. Polyester thread, gives movement as apposed to cotton or natural fiber blended threads that do not have give. You can use the cotton polyester wrapped thread for woven fabrics as well, making it the most versatile.

Top Stitching Thread


Top stitching thread is a little heavier and is used for top stitching, buttonholes and programmed machine embroidery. Machine embroidery is good replacement for decorative sewing trims.


Cotton Thread

100% cotton thread is great for linens and any natural fibres. Cotton won't stretch like the polyester threads. So do not use on your knit fabrics. The thread will break as you sew in addition, your stitches will not flow.

Embroidery Thread

Embroidery threads are for machine quilting and machine embroidery sewing. Embroidery thread, comes in different colors including variegated, gold, and silver. It is a little more expensive, but you will only use it for specialty sewing.

Wooly Nylon Thread:

Wooly Nylon Thread

Wooly nylon is a stretchy thread used in the loopers, (upper and lower) of your serger. It is used to give extra stretch to seams in swimsuits; exercise wear; lingerie and knit fabrics.

As well, woolly nylon is used to add decorative flare and give texture and dimension to rolled hems and the edges of your projects. It is another option to using sewing trims and notions. It comes in many different colors, including variegated and metallic.

For more great information about choosing the best thread for your projects, click here.

Sewing Trims and Notions-Tapes:

Most patterns will tell you what sewing trims and notions the project requires. However, once you become familiar with sewing; your creativity will enjoy these trims and notions for decorative purposes to personalize your projects.

Whether or not the pattern calls for them, be sure to choose compatible fibres and colors for the fabric you have chosen. If you shop online I recommend MJTrim this online store offers a great variety of trims and notions.

Sewing Trims and Notions: Bias Tape

Bias Tape

Again your pattern will tell you when you need sewing trims and notions. The pattern instructions will tell you what type and how much you will need. Bias tape is a long narrow piece of fabric cut at a 45 degree angle and comes in single and double fold.

You can purchase bias tape in pre-cut packages or you can have it cut to length. It is used to trim the edge of seam allowances, covering piping, making facings around armholes and finishing hems. Some sewers like to finish seam edges with bias tape. It is more work but the result is very professional and clean looking.

You can see I used a double folded bias tape to finish the raw edge of the inside facing on these pants. I could have serged the edge or just turned it under, but I chose bias tape because again it looks professional and it's a cleaner finish.

The bias cut fabric, gives stretch for going around curves and corners. You can make your own bias tape by cutting diagonal strips and sewing them together to create the strip length you need. The tool to the left is a simple version of a bias tape tool.

Making your own bias tape is great when you cannot find the right color match to your fabric or for more customized decorative sewing trims and notions, when you choose complimentary contrasting fabrics.

There is a special bias tape tool that makes it faster and easier to create your own bias tape. 

Sewing Trims and Notions-Twill Tape

sewing with twill tape
twill tape samples

Twill tape is made from cotton, polyester, linen and wool. It is used for casings, ties for elastic waist pants, backing for snaps, binding edges. In this photo, twill tape has been used to reinforce the neck seam and inside the placket to reinforce the buttons and buttonholes. This can also be considered sewing trims as well as a notion.

Twill tape is often used to reinforce knit fabric and wool gauze fabric at the neck armhole and crotch areas.

This helps to prevent over stretched seams and tearing of the seams. It is a durable product not really used for decoration, and mainly used for utility purposes.

Seam Tape or Seam Binding

Best used for finishing hems and covering seams and is made of synthetic fibre.

Sewing Trims and Notions: Ric Rac

Ric rac comes in different widths and is used mainly for decorative purposes. It was quite popular in the 1950's and still has a charm today. I use these sewing trims and notions to embellish children's clothing.

Sewing Trims and Notions: Piping

  • Piping is decorative sewing trim. It holds no real practical purpose, other than adding a neat and tidy finished look to your project.
  • There are three different types of cording. Woven cording, stretch cording, and the ready made type you can only purchase.
  • Woven piping is made from cotton, satin, and velvet. Satin and velvet piping adds a nicer dressy look to a project.
  • If you are making piping with woven fabrics, it is best to use bias tape. This will give flexibility around corners and make this sewing trim a whole lot easier to work with.
  • Stretch piping is made from elastic and stretch knit fabric.
  • Elastic piping is becoming more readily available. It is better to use elastic piping for stretch knit garments.
How to sewing piping into a sewing project
  • This style to the left is a woven piping. The cording is sandwiched between bias tape and the seam is sewn together to hold the piping in place. You can purchase this type of piping or make it yourself.
Piping sample
  • The type of piping you see here is ready made from a manufacturer. These sewing trims and notions can be expensive. However, if you look for sales in the fabric stores or shop online you can find good pricing to keep your cost down.
  • You would purchase this type of piping as apposed to making it your self.
  • Both of these types of piping are used for embellishing garments, pillows, bedding, and hand towels.


The third type of piping is stretch elastic. The cording is elastic and the fabric is stretch knit. You would use this for embellishing any project that has stretch.
Piping comes in many colors but I do find I like to make my own for a unique custom look. Here is how I do it.

What you will need:

  • Stretch knit fabric (The amount will be determined by your project)
  • Elastic cording
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Sharp scissors
How to sew your own piping.
  • You can see I have cut a one inch wide strip of stretch knit fabric.
  • The length will be determined by your project.
How to sew your own piping.
  • Cut the elastic cording the same length as your fabric strip.
How to sew your own piping.
  • Fold the fabric over approximately 1/4" and pin to secure.
How to sew your own piping.
  • Using a zipper foot, stitch close to the elastic as shown in the photo.
  • It's that simple, your piping can now be installed in your sewing project.
  • You can see the back and front of your finished piping in the photos below. Sewing trims and notions don't have to be expensive. Taking extra time and using what you already have can prove to be an added feature and money saver.
How to sew your own piping.
How to sew your own piping.

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