101: Fagotted Seams

Fagoting is the term used to describe the technique where two fabric panels are joined together with a ‘gap’ in between them, either using a sheer panel or displaying some fancy needlework (you can always add a backing of an opaque skin-coloured fabric if this isn’t for you!).

This technique was used a lot in vintage nightwear and lingerie. Alberta Ferreti’s Spring 2012 RTW (via style.com) collection had some shining examples of fagotting:

If your machine has some fancy stitches, then you can choose to do it the quick way. Have a look here for a useful resource on sewing a fagotted seam with your machine.

I’ve chosen to do it by hand – I’m travelling for work a lot a the moment so it’s nice to have something soothing like a bit of hand sewing to do in the evenings!

1. Firstly, you’ll need to secure the two bits of fabric you will be fagotting together equidistant apart. I’ve done this by drawing two lines (0.5cm apart) down a piece of paper, then sewing my fabric to the paper with the folded edges aligned with the drawn lines:

You sew these down right sides up – with your seam allowance underneath (this will need to be either sewn down mechanically or using a blind stitch to secure the seam allowance).

I’m planning to sew this detail in between some pleats, which is why you only see a small amount of fabric.

2. Down the middle of the gap, I’ve added in dots at 0.5cm apart – this will be used as the template to make sure I get the stitches the same distance apart. 

On one side the needle will line up with the dots, on the other side it will go between the dots. I found this easier than having dots for each side – which gets confusing if you’re dealing with a fairly compact threading pattern!

3. I’m using embroidery thread as it’s nice and thick, which I’ve split in half (3 strands instead of 6):

4. Thread and secure to your fabric. I’m using the same style of fagotting used in vintage pieces – it looks little complex but is really very simple.

If you’re doing something more geometric, just work your way on down the seam. The trickiest part is maintaining a regular tension to keep your pattern looking homogeneous.

4. To do the vintage stitch I’m using, insert your needle from the underside of the fabric, taking a little ‘bite’ of the fabric fold:

Before you pull it through, make sure the ‘tail’ of the thread is underneath the needle. When you pull through, the threads wrapped around each other will give you the fagotted pattern.

5. Do the same on the other side (like a mirror image):

You’ll need thread at least twice as long as the seam you’re sewing, unless you don’t mind securing off and starting again halfway through. 

This is a great little thing to do when you’re watching Downton Abbey… this stitch is ever-so reminiscent of this era! 

That could possibly be fagotting on the waistline of Livinia’s Dress…?



  1. This is great! I'm a technical designer and we're always using this on the garments, the only difference being that it is done by machine. It's great to know how to do it by hand! Thanks for posting!

  2. I know I know… Took me a while to get over the word too! But I just have to keep reminding myself it's from another time… when words meant different things. hehe. But thankyou for the award! I'm touched :)

  3. I just found your blog! Wonderful! I can't wait to see more! I've never tried hand fagoting seams, only using a wide decorative stitch on the machine. THanks!Cambratumblytwirly.blogspot.com

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