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Scalloped hems, necklines, front edges and peplums abound in vintage clothing and making them is a cinch! Though scallops peaked in popularity in the 20s and again in the 50s, you can find them throughout fashion and design history. Want scallops on your next project? Of course you do! Here’s how to do it.

First, choose your fabric wisely. Firmly woven fabrics – think cotton, linen, wool crepe, silk shantung and silk duponi – are your friend here. Loosely woven fabrics won’t support that firm, crisp apex you’re shooting for.


To plan out your scallops, I recommended starting by first drawing them freehand onto a muslin of your project. In a pinch, you could draw them straight onto a copy of your pattern but I like to see the whole garment in perspective to get a feel for the depth, size and number of scallops I want. Once you have a pretty good rough outline of how many scallops you want, measure along the edge in question and divide the total length by the number of scallops you’ve planned. This should give you the exact distance between scallop apexes. Mark out that distance and use an appropriately sized curved object (a teacup, a jar, a lid) to trace out the curve between marks. Great – now you have a pattern!


To finish your scallops, you are going to want to plan a partial facing for your edge using the same pattern you planned in the previous step – just make sure the facing rises at least an inch above the apexes of the scallops. Finish the non-scallop edge of your facing with a zig-zag stitch or any other finishing method appropriate to your project.

With right sides facing, sew your scalloped edge to your facing, pivoting around your needle at the apexes. Use short stitches. Clip all along the curve and into the apex just a few threads away from the stitching line. Turn right side out, press with a hot iron and voila – you have a perfectly scalloped edge!


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    Dec 30, 2010, 08.32 AMby loyl8

    I love scallops!!! I made my 1920s dress with hand fringed scallops.

    3 Replies
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      Dec 30, 2010, 04.18 PMby eringilday

      Oh wow, excellent example!! Did you end up wearing it for X-mas or are you saving it for NYE? It’s gonna be a smash either way!

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      Dec 31, 2010, 05.47 AMby loyl8

      thank you :)well no xmas NYE still possibly if Im outside though I might not. maybe save it for my anniversary or something..I need to wear it!!

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      Jan 1, 2011, 03.04 AMby eringilday

      Aw yeah, it’s freezing here so I can see that dress maybe not working tonight. But still…bust it out ASAP!

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    Dec 30, 2010, 04.55 AMby Tricia Marshall Jones

    I love that black and white dress on the bottom right. Great inspiration pieces all around.

    1 Reply
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      Dec 30, 2010, 04.20 PMby eringilday

      Thanks, Tricia!

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    Dec 30, 2010, 03.28 AMby agladewe

    I’ve often wondered if it would be possible / practical to use machine embroidery software to digitize scallops and then use an embroidery module for sewing out the scallops. There would be repositioning or re-hooping the project, but the scallops would be perfectly sewn. Ditto on the gorgeous dresses!

    5 Replies
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 30, 2010, 03.43 AMby eringilday

      I’ve never used a sewing machine that has computerized embroidery capabilities (I’m 100% analog when it comes to machines) but I have definitely seen what you’re talking about done before and it looks really neat!

      I’m assuming you’re thinking a satin stitch – maybe one that gradually gets wider as you move away from the apex, widest at the curve and then getting smaller again as you approach the apex? I’ve seen that before and I like the weight that it adds to the finished edge. On the downside, I can imagine the re-hooping would get tedious…

      I’d love to see what you come up with!

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      Dec 30, 2010, 11.03 AMby Sabrina Wharton-Brown

      If you have a scallop stitch (such as you get on entry-level computerized machines) you can sew that along the edge. That way you don’t need to keep re-hooping! : )

      I would suggest folding the edge over first to give it extra strength, and, if it’s a fine fabric, uising stabilizer or fusible interfacing.

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      Dec 30, 2010, 04.21 PMby eringilday

      Thanks for the tips, Sabrina!

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      Jan 1, 2011, 02.26 AMby mlssfshn

      There is a way to make you own lace with an embrodery machine and wash away stabilize. I had a friend do it before to make christmas ornaments. Some home machines can be hooped up to 12 inches now so repositioning wouldn’t be a big deal, you’d probably only have to do it onceif the bodice was one piece front and one piece pack per side. Most lace bodices are fitted and princess seamed

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      Jan 1, 2011, 03.03 AMby eringilday

      Well that certainly sounds more do-able than I initially imagined! Thanks for the tip!

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    Dec 30, 2010, 03.16 AMby kelepso

    Those 3 vintage dress at the top are gorgeous!

    1 Reply
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      Dec 30, 2010, 03.44 AMby eringilday

      I know, total stunners! I was so excited when I found those for this post!

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    Dec 29, 2010, 09.08 PMby sarsaparilla

    Love the pictures! I’d like to try scallops some time.

    1 Reply
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      Dec 29, 2010, 10.23 PMby eringilday

      Glad you like ’em, Sarsparilla! Thanks for reading.

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    Dec 29, 2010, 08.38 PMby fashionfreek

    Oooweeee:-). Lovely ideas. ;-)

    1 Reply
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      Dec 29, 2010, 10.22 PMby eringilday

      Thanks, fashionfreak!

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    Dec 29, 2010, 06.55 PMby danired

    Those first 3 dresses are killer! Def. wedding material :) And that fur…totally unexpected!

    1 Reply
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      Dec 29, 2010, 10.22 PMby eringilday

      I know, the fur kills me too! That one doesn’t actually have scallops involved (unless you count the v neckline) but oh well. =)

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    Dec 29, 2010, 06.41 PMby ladykatza

    Ooo! I have a bunch of mid-40’s vintage patterns with scalloped details. It was a popular thing to do for detail when fabric was being rationed.

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 29, 2010, 10.21 PMby eringilday

      Good point – scallops are a no-cost embellishment that would make sense during fabric rationing. I would love to see some of your patterns!

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