Saturday, July 05, 2014

Working with border prints

My Smugglers Daughter dress/Vogue 8972 bodice is made using part of a border print. The next dress I want to sew using my Milly fabric will also be made from a border print.  And over the years I've made quite a few garments from border prints.  I will of course detail how I'm using/cutting the border prints in both dress blog posts but today I thought I would share some border print resources with you.

I've searched my blog and even though I've expressed my love of border prints, I haven't really discussed how to sew with a border print.  There are a few brief tips included in this blog post, but I really want to share some references both in print and online.   Why share links and magazine articles? Because honestly why rewrite what has already been done so well.

Magazine and Book sources...

The first one I always think of when I need inspiration is a Sew News article from 1992.  Of course, I can't find an online link and somewhere in my moving I've lost the first page of the article with the article's title but what I have is inspiration enough just from the pictures/drawings included.

Does anyone know if Sew News has an online or web based archive of their older magazine articles? I have quite a few that I've cut out and saved from older issues but would love an online resource or DVD source similar to the Threads one to access.

Next, an older Threads article, "Border Prints on the Move" by Joyce Gale in the May 1996, number 64 issue is a very detailed article on what border prints are, how to lay a pattern out, examples of how to effectively sew a border print and the most interesting quote to me...

"To place a border print just where you want it, you can cut the pattern apart."

A newer Threads article, "Border Crossing" by Judith Neukam in the April/May 2014 number 172 issue, has great photographs on how to use border prints to achieve the look that you desire.  However, the other Threads article has more detailed information, so if you can get your hands on the older article I highly recommend it.

Before I move on, I'm going to put in a plug for this awesome sewing publication that is a fantastic resource for the home sewist.  Not only can Threads magazine be accessed on your tablet - android and iPad/iPhone - but they offer all of the issues on DVD and in a new web based edition.  Finally there is "Threads Insider" that is a web based resource offered for a yearly subscription price. 

In full disclosure, I own every Threads issue between the Threads archive DVD that's on my computer (for the early issues) and the subscription that I've had for the last 20 years.  One of the things that my daughter (the only one that sews) treasures is my Threads collection. Even she flips through it occasionally to learn something new.

Claire Schaeffer's book, Fabric Sewing Guide - 2nd Edition, has an entire chapter called, "Prints and Border Designs."  In this chapter, Claire discusses how to use a border print. She gives a border print sewing checklist, as well as, a section on how to plan the garment, picking a pattern, layout and seam finishings.

I think this is an essential book for every sewist to have in her library and would like to encourage you to purchase a copy if you don't already own one!

Now what if you only want online sources...

My first choice would be a $3.99 seminar from Sandra Betzina at Power Sewing. Her Episode 91, Unusual Techniques for Border Prints is a winner. Packed with loads of helpful and usable information for the price of a coffee from Starbucks but accessible for 30 days, this is an amazing resource.

Another resource would be this blogger who used border prints in what I think are an interesting way ~

The Sewing Lawyer - What to do with a border print? 

There are loads more, these were just the two that caught my eye when I did a Google search. I hope that some of this information was/is useful to you. I know that I reread the original Threads article to assist me with placement for my Smugglers Daughter dress.  More details on that soon... always more later!


  1. I can't agree more that Claire Schaeffer's book should be in every seamstresses arsenal. Great resource that I'm always going back to. Thanks for all the links, Carolyn!

  2. Thanks Carolyn for this very informative post!

  3. These are great resources. Thank you so much, Carolyn, for doing all the hard work! I love border prints, too, and the challenges they offer. Can't wait to see your latest.

  4. Thanks for all the good information. I wasn't aware until earlier today that one could by one episode from Sandra B. I'm looking forward to your Milly dress.

  5. Wow thanks Carolyn! I think I need to go fabric shopping - I don't have any border prints in the stash :(

  6. I have a serious addiction to border prints, and have a lovely one on the table right now! Thinking of mixing it up a bit and placing the border at the waistline this time...

  7. My only comment (and I think this is mentioned in the earlier Threads article) is that some fabrics behave a lot differently on the crossgrain (stiffer, there might be some nap to the weave you'd not noticed before) and that if it's not printed ongrain exactly, you will weep salty salty tears. Or at least I have.

  8. Thanks Carolyn! This post is a great resource with all of the sources of solid info on sewing with border prints. I love them too. I do agree with SJ, who reminds us that some fabric does behave very differently on the cross - which is just something to consider when placing the border. But I love it when someone uses a border print in an unexpected way.

  9. How incredibly generous to share this trove of information! Can't wait to see your Milly dress, it's sure to be a stunner. Creative Hormone Rush

  10. This post was right on time! I'm making a border print dress in the next week or so. Thanks for this!

  11. Thank you for the links. I did go to emmaonesock and was ever so tempted to buy one of the Tahari border prints.
    (But I have a black and white butterfly border print that I haven't used yet.)
    Then I saw the "furry waves"...rayon spandex knit, not a border print, but I love it.
    Soooo....I bookmarked them for a couple of hours. :)
    Can't wait to see your dress!

    1. Those EOS border prints ARE lovely! I thought about buying one for a hot minute but then realized I already have so many in the collection! I hope you do buy one!


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