How to Embroider a Scalloped Edge

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Scalloped edges add a touch of elegance and refinement to garments and linens.
Scalloped edges add a touch of elegance and refinement to garments and linens. (Image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Scalloped edges can be sewn by hand using heirloom embroidery techniques, or using any sewing machine that has a zigzag stitch. Some sophisticated sewing machines have computer software that will calculate the width and length of the scallops and allow you to program the satin scalloped edge stitch. Scalloped edges are frequently seen on fine handkerchiefs and table linens. Scalloped edges may also be found on better-quality garments along necklines, jacket edges, the edges where blouses button, and along cuffs and skirt hems.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric or a finished garment
  • Manila file folder
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Round object to be used to draw scallops on the template
  • Fine tailor's chalk pencil
  • Tailor's chalk pencil sharpener
  • Hand-sewing needle
  • Sewing Machine, optional
  • Regular weight cotton polyester thread
  • Top-stitching thread
  • Steam iron and ironing board

Scalloped Edge: Heirloom Embroidery

Create a template to create a scalloped edge. Measure the edge of your garment or fabric. Decide how large you want each scallop to be. Divide the width of the scallop into the length of the fabric edge. Design the scallop width so that scallops are placed on corners, e.g., the corners of a tablecloth or napkins.

Fine linens or heirloom garments such as christening gowns may have hand-embroidered scalloped edges.
Fine linens or heirloom garments such as christening gowns may have hand-embroidered scalloped edges. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Draw your template on a manila file folder. Open the folder. Measure the height of the scallop, which is the distance from the top of the notch between scallops and the bottom of the curved part of the scallop. Mark the scallop height on both ends of the manila folder and draw a line between the two marks. Mark the width of each scallop along the line that you drew. Place a cylindrical object between the marks you made to indicate the scallop width and trace around the bottom of the object.

Use a fine tailor's chalk pencil and your template to mark a scalloped edge on your fabric or garment. Stitch a small running stitch 1/8 inch in from the edge of the scalloped edge. Cut along the scalloped edge that you drew with tailor's chalk.

Use a double strand of embroidery thread to create a satin embroidery stitch along the scalloped edge of the fabric or garment. Begin stitching on the back-side of the fabric, pull the thread through, pull the thread over the edge of the fabric. Stitch up through the back-side of the fabric, inserting the needle very close to previous stitch. Continue along the edge of your fabric or garment. Maintain even thread tension to create a professional, couture appearance.

Scalloped Edge: Machine Embroidered Edge

Use the template you created in Step 1 and 2 and a fine tailor's chalk pencil to draw a scalloped edge on your fabric or garment. Place a piece of heavyweight, water-soluble stabilizer underneath the scalloped edge. Adjust your sewing machine settings so that the stitch length is approximately 18 stitches per inch and the zigzag stitch is the width that you desire.

Machine embroidered scalloped edges are used when embroidering a scalloped edge by hand.
Machine embroidered scalloped edges are used when embroidering a scalloped edge by hand. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Stitch smoothly along the scalloped line that you drew. The bottom side of the zigzag stitch should hit the edge of the scalloped edge that you drew. After stitching to the end of the scalloped line, pull away the stabilizer on the outside edge. Use small, sharp scissors to trim away excess fabric next to bottom stitching line along the scalloped edge.

Zigzag over the scalloped edge a second time to create a smooth, satin stitch. Stitch over top-stitching thread -- a heavier weight thread -- under the presser foot as you zigzag a second time. Sewing over top-stitching thread will create volume in the satin embroidery stitch. Sew very carefully -- you should not be able to see the first zigzag stitching when you finish zigzagging the scalloped edge for the second time.

Pull away the top of the water-soluble stabilizer. Press the scalloped edge using a steam iron from the back-side.

Tips & Warnings

  • Practice sewing scallops on a scrap piece of fabric before attempting to create a scalloped edge on your expensive fabric or garment.
  • Stabilizer is a special kind of interfacing that is used to strengthen a fabric edge while sewing it. Stabilizer is torn away after sewing over it. Water-soluble stabilizer dissolves when laundered.
  • When trimming fabric from the bottom of the scalloped edge, be careful not to cut the scalloped stitching.
  • Be exact in everything you do. Carelessness will be reflected in the appearance of your scalloped edge.

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