Creative Trim Ideas: How to Sew Twist and Turn Trim

Sewing is a great way to express ones creativity and individuality, so I am always on the lookout for unique and innovative ways to jazz up a dress, top or other garment — something that will give it a look that is all my own. One of my favorite ways to add some personalized flair is to add trim by making it out of ribbon or strips of fabric, using what I refer to as the “twist and turn trim technique.”

Twist & turn trim

 Get creative with your trim by giving this twist and turn ribbon trim a try!

Trimmed blouse

This trim application can transform a simple, plain garment into something pretty and different. Through a process of folding and twisting strips of fabric (or ribbon) you can create a three-dimensional embellishment that will enhance the style of any garment. Use it trim the edge of a sleeve, neckline or jacket front.

The trim can be as wide as you want and the folds can be of any dimension you choose, so you can see this trim can be as simple or intricate as your imagination allows.

The “twist and turn” technique

The trim starts with long strips of fabric or ribbon in either a matching or contrasting color or material. Your choice. You decide to what degree you want the trim to stand out within your creation. If using ribbon, go with one where both sides look the same. When using fabric, the strips can be either left with raw unfinished edges for a more organic look or can be made into tubes for a clean, more professional finish.

Either way, the technique for creating the trim is the same. Fabric and ribbon that is relatively soft and pliable work best for the twisting that is involved in creating the trim.

contrast edging

edged sleeve


Since every fabric or ribbon selection will perform differently and the dimensions of the trim can vary based on project and personal preference, it is best to make a sample of the trim first. It is important all spacing be as even as possible, so measure and stitch in place as accurately as possible.

To determine the length of the strip needed to prepare the trim to fit your project plan for a strip that is twice as long as the length of space the trim will cover. This ratio may vary based on the ribbon or fabric choice, so once again, always prepare a sample first to make sure this ratio will work.

Here is how to make the twist & turn trim — for either fabric or ribbon:

1. If using fabric, one needs to determine whether the fabric strip edges will remain raw (or unfinished) or if fabric tubes need to be constructed.

2. If the edges are to remain unfinished, cut the strip on the bias to reduce fraying. Using a fabric that is tightly woven will also help.

3. If using fabric tubes cut the width, so it is two times the desired finished trim width plus 1/2″ to allow for two 1/4″ seam allowances. Construct the tube, turn right side out and press so seam runs down the center of the tube. When cutting the strips it is not necessary for the fabric to be cut on the bias. A finished width of 2″ works best, so the cut width would be 4 1/2″.

fabric tube
4. Starting at one end and the underside of the strip facing up, fold the raw ends in towards the center. Pin in place.

end pinned in place
5. Fold the pinned end up to the underside 1 7/8″. Stitch the fold in place 1/2″ from the raw edge. The stitching should be no more than 1/2″ in length and positioned in the center of the strip.



end stitched in place

6. Working from the top side of the strip place a mark, with fabric pen or pin, 2″ from the stitching line (a.). From that mark place another at 2 3/4″ (b).

7. Fold the strip so mark a. and b. meet, wrong sides together. This creates the next fold. Stitch the joined fold together no more than 1/2″ in length and centered within the strip.

fold pinned

fold stitched

8. Now twist the strip between the two stitching lines twice.

twisted twice
9. Holding the twisted folds firmly, place the fold to the left towards (either over or near) the stitching line of the fold to the right. Pin securely in place and then stitch over the previous stitching line to secure the fold in place. This completes the first set of folds.

left fold joined to right fold
10. Repeat the process of measuring and stitching to create the rest of the trim. To attach the trim bartack stitch over each stitched fold to secure in place using a matching thread color.

completed sample
11. If placing around the front edge of a jacket or shirt in order for the folds to run in the same direction on both sides, at the center back point do not complete the fold over step but rather leave the twisted trim unfolded as pictured. It will look like a bow. Then continue to create the trim as before but it will now run in the opposite direction.

center back view

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