Tutorial: Add a Fagoted Seam to the Cinnamon Slip



One of the great things about vintage sewing books is finding instructions for techniques that aren’t quite so common any more. When looking through one of mine, I came across a page about how to sew fagoted seams.

A fagoted seam is a seam in which both edges are hemmed, then hand stitched together with a small space in between. In an older context, fagoting can also refer to a method in which the crosswise threads in a certain section of fabric are removed, and the loose vertical threads are tied together into bunches.

It takes a little bit of extra time, but it really is a beautiful detail that adds an airy delicateness to a garment. So I thought it would be a perfect embellishment for the Cinnamon slip.

For this tutorial, we’ll be creating a 1/2″ wide fagoted seam between the front midriff and skirt pieces.


The only extra thing you’ll need in addition to what is listed on the pattern envelope is embroidery floss and an embroidery needle. I used standard cotton floss in a matching color.


1) Subtract for space. Since we’re working with a seam that’s already there, we’ll just use the seam allowance for the hems. However, we should still subtract a bit from each edge to create the open space for the hand stitching. For this tutorial our fagoted seam will be 1/2″ wide, split equally between the two involved pieces.

So, measure and trim 1/4″ from the bottom edge of the front midriff and the top edge of the front skirt. This will create the open space.


2) Stay stitch. Stay stitch at 5/8″ along the following edges:

Top and bottom of midriff
Top of front skirt
Top of front bodices
Top of back bodice

3) Attach front bodice. Following the pattern instructions, sew the center front bodice seam and attach the front bodice to the top edge of the midriff.


4) Hem the midriff. Clip and fold the bottom edge of the midriff as the instructions indicate, but then tuck the raw edge under, pin and press.


Stitch along the inner fold to hem the midriff, pivoting at the center.


5) Hem the front skirt. Hem the top edge of the front skirt in the same manner.


6) Baste to paper. Using scrap paper, trace the bottom edge of the midriff piece.


Then draw a set of lines 1/2″ lower.


Pin the front bodice along the upper line, carefully aligning the bottom edge of the bodice with the drawn line.


Do the same with the front skirt, using the lower line.


Baste both pieces to the paper.


Note: Definitely test a swatch first to see if your machine will scar your fabric once the basting stitches are removed. Mine didn’t, so I was able to machine baste. If your fabric is quite delicate you may need to hand baste.

7) Hand stitch. To keep your stitches even, mark them with a ruler, starting from the center and working out to the edges. I placed my marks 1/4″ apart, though my stitches were staggered 1/2″ apart so I ended up using every other mark.


Working from left to right, use embroidery floss to sew a fagoted stitch across the gap. To do this, sew through the hemmed edge from back to front.


Then pass the needle under the floss before going on to the next stitch.


Gently pull taut and repeat.


Once you’ve finished, remove basting stitches and paper.

8) Sew the side seams. Sew the side seams as the pattern instructions indicate, but make sure that as you pin and stitch you preserve the gap of the fagoted seam.


9) Finish. Finish your Cinnamon slip according to the pattern instructions.

Devon Iott   —  

Raised on a farm in Ohio, Devon moved to Los Angeles for college and worked in the film industry for several years. She has taught sewing at various shops throughout Southern California and at the Craftcation Conference in Ventura. She now resides and teaches in Nashville. When not obsessively sewing she can be found knitting, baking, and drinking wine with her cat.

Comments 19


That is a lovely detail–and beautiful work, too. Can I ask which member of your team did the stitching?


Devon wrote this post and stitched the garment. Her name is under the title. We’re actually working on a blog redesign right now that will make the author’s name a lot more visible. :)


Well that would make sense … does the post author usually post their own work, then? I wasn’t sure.

In either case, that hand-stitching is lovely. So even and precise.


Normally, yes. We have a sample stitcher (the lovely Marietta) who creates sample garments for photo shoots and whatnot which I guess sometimes show up on the blog, but mostly we’re each writing and photographing and stitching the tutorials. We’re a team though, so there are definitely exceptions.

Carlee McTavish

What a pretty detail! Great tutorial, thanks for sharing :)

Susan Norwood

That’s really beautiful! I will have to try it!


Beautiful! I’d love to use that on some pretty, soft cotton summer tops. I need to go find all of the floral prints now.


This is gorgeous!! Thank you for the tutorial.


I have always admired this technique and the effect it gives. It looks perfect on that slip. I’ll have to have a play with it and see what I can come up with!


I love this! Thank you so much. Now I really want to make the slip.


I had no idea it was so easy – I have to try this soon. Being left-handed, does it work as well from right to left (my preferred hand sewing direction). Though I will do testing first, of course.


Yes – this is one of the easier stitches to reverse direction – I can do it left-handed, and I’m very strongly RIGHT-handed! If Sarai doesn’t mind (edit my comment if you do!) a link: Yvette Stanton ( puts out a really good stitch-dictionary for left-handed embroiderers (“The Left-Handed Embroiderer’s Companion”) for more complex stitches, if the hold-the-book-up-to-the-mirror trick doesn’t work for you.


Thank you! I definitely want to add more hand sewing and embroidery skills to my repertoire, but it is a challenge to not only learn the stitch, but how to reverse it.

SJ Kurtz

The basting to the paper is a great idea. The key to most handsewn details is keeping it even and regular, as the eye travels to the one stitch that ISN”T in line, and keeping that gap even is a BEACH! (pardon my salty language!)

Neala Kerridwen

Howdy, what a pleasure to see such working examples of the pieces of the puzzle! I hand sew and the pictures are clear enough for me to “translate” into a by-hand instruction! I hand sew due to to a back injury which restricts my ability to sit upright at a machine most of the time! I have a 1949 Singer portable which was my Mama’s! I use an iron as a basting device and creative pinning to keep track of the “drag.”… love your site, received my first patterns yesterday…sew exciting!


beautiful detail!! thank you for this tutorial – I would definitely love to try this! :)


What a great tutorial. I love the look of the fagoting on your Cinnamon dress. And the pattern of the month is a wonderful idea.


Thanks for that! What a wonderful technique, especially for those of us who love sewing by hand!

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