Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Puff Trim Mini Tutorial

I trimmed my Gold Galleon Gown with puff trim, which I found to be a lot of fun.  I had several people ask me about it at the Francaise Dinner this past weekend (more on that later) so I thought I'd do a little tutorial about it.  First, my inspiration:

I found this image on Pinterest, and unfortunately I was unable to trace it back to its original source, but I found indications that it is from the Royal Ontario Museum.  Anyway, I loved the puff trim and decided to replicate it.

Here are my materials:

Strips of silk, strips of batting, matching thread, and a long grabby device*
I wanted 2" diameter puffs, so I started by cutting 5" wide strips of my silk, pulling threads to be sure I was cutting on the straight of grain.  I cut a total of five strips from a section of my scraps that was 45" across.  I had calculated that this would give me enough for two vertical serpentine bands along the gown skirt fronts, and one horizontal one on the petticoat.

Very crude drawing of my vision of the final trim placement
I sewed the 5" wide strips into tubes with a 1/2" seam allowance, and turned them inside out.  Then I took one and folded it in half to find the middle:

I placed a pin there to mark it:

I started from the back side, where the seam was:

I pulled the needle through to the front, then wrapped the thread around:

And stuck it back in through the front, coming out near the knot in the back:

Pulling this tight gathered up the tube:

And I tied another knot to hold it in place, and cut my thread:

Now it was time to add stuffing.  I had cut 4" wide strips of batting, which I folded over:

And cut 2" squares:

Now with my grabby thing* I took hold of the batting square:

And stuffed it into the tube:

Starting from the center meant I had less distance to travel with each puff, since both ends of the tube were open and I could go in from either side.

Once the batting was in place, I needed to squish it around from the outside a bit to give it the correct puff shape.  Then I gathered up the other side, added a new bit of batting, and continued:

Pretty soon I had a row of puffs!  When I got to the end, I turned in the edges:

And whipped them closed with large stitches:

Which I then pulled up to gather the end:

And secured it with a final stitch:

Knotted it tightly, and I was done!

Then I started over from the other end of the tube, and followed the same process.  This end I left open, so I could connect the next tube to it.  I pinned the row of puffs in place on my gown skirt:

After I finished the next row, I attached the tubes by folding in the edges of one, and inserting the end of the other:

Then I whipped them together in largely the same manner as I had closed the previous end:

And drew these stitches tight as well:

And my calculations were correct that two strips was enough for one side!

I found that the grabby thing* was also useful for turning the tubes inside out.  Just grab the seam allowance at one end:  

Stuff it into the opening:

And push it through, out to the other side:

Piece of cake!

I also found that silk thread is not the best thing to use for this purpose, as the thread is slippery enough that the knots occasionally pop through the fabric.  I switched to cotton/polyester thread halfway through the first row of puffs, and it went much better.

*I'm sure that "grabby thing" is totally the technical term for it.  I bought mine at Lowe's several years ago.


  1. "Grabby thing" sounds good to me! It looks really useful.

    The puff trim is lovely. Can't wait to see the completed dress.