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How to Design and Sew a Scalloped Edge

Scalloped edges add a cute bit of whimsy to a top or dress and are perfect for spring sewing. And, you don’t need to search for a pattern to include this feminine detail — you just need a few fun sewing techniques up your sleeve!

Add scallops to any pattern and choose the size and depth using this easy method for how to sew a scalloped edge!

dress with scallop front

Image via SunnyGal Studio

On this retro-style toddler dress, the scallops are an accent to the button front, showing you are not limited to hemlines for placement. Consider scalloping the edge of sleeves, necklines or even the bodice edge of a fit and flare dress for an intriguing fashion design detail that’s all your own!

Follow these easy steps and create your own scallop design with some tools you already have available.

Step 1: Assemble your tools.

tools to make circles

To get an even scallop design across your pattern, I like to use whatever round item is handy. Plates, bowls, jar lids or mugs work really well so grab a few items from your kitchen and start experimenting with the size and shape.

Step 2: Determine scallop size.

scallop designs on paper

A scallop is a portion of a circle – sometimes a half circle and other times a bit less. Shallower scallops are a bit easier to sew, and also look nice on a hemline. I like to play around with the scallop size and depth on a piece of paper until I decide on my final design.

Start by measuring the length of the finished edge, because you need to decide on a width of scallop that is divisible into your finished edge. For example a dress with a hem circumference of 40 inches would look great with scallops that are 4 inches wide. Be sure to center one scallop in the center front and work your way around to meet in the center back for a more pleasing design.

Step 3: Mark the baseline and scallops.

marking scallops on fabric

Start by marking on the wrong side of the fabric. Mark a baseline with chalk or other removable marker along the edge you want scalloped. You can mark the actual garment but I find it easier to mark the facing piece and then apply that to the garment. Then take your circle, in this example a jar lid, and put pieces of tape on the end points of the curve you have previously determined. Now you can just trace around the edge of the curve and move over to the next scallop, continuing this way until the whole length is marked.

Step 4: Stitch the scallops.

stitching scallop curves

Time to stitch your facing to the garment edge. Sew right sides together, go slow and pivot at the inside corners. A shorter stitch length is helpful for sewing tight curves and narrow pivots such as these. I don’t do any cutting on the facing at this point, just draw on the stitching lines and sew as marked.

Step 5: Trim the scallops.

trim scallop edge

Snip the inside corners of the scallops right up to the stitching. For the curved portion, cut triangular wedges along the edge, as this curve is going to flip to the inside and we need to remove bulk on this seam allowance.

Step 6: Press the scallops.

pressing scalloped edge

Turn the fabric right side out and press the scalloped edge. If the curves don’t look smooth, check to see if you need to remove a few more wedges on the seam allowance, as that can make the curve uneven if it is not trimmed enough.

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10 Comments

Kyle

Hi Beth!
I always wondered how this was done. How wide should the facing be? On a skirt hem, what is keeping the facing from flipping down? Should the scallops be interfaced on a skirt hem? Thanks in advance!

Reply
Beth

Hi Kyle, good questions. On a skirt I would make the facing the same width as whatever hem you might use on the item, and then treat the facing as a hem. You can hand stitch an invisible hem or topstitch if it is suitable for the fabric or style of garment. I find interfacing is not needed and might make the hem too heavy as compared to the rest of the skirt.

Reply
Kyle

Thanks Beth! Your suggestions make sense. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of an invisible hem.

Reply
Carol Woosley

Thanks for the great marking tips! I think I’ll try scalloped edges on my next baby quilt. Before trimming the inside corners, I apply a drop of fray block and let dry (cutting the wedges from the curves while waiting).

Reply
Annie Dee

Thank you! I put this to use immediately on the hem of a top and pair of capris for an 18″ doll. I love the way it came out. I will definitely use this again.

Reply
Latifah A.

Hi, i’m new at this and this is gonna be my first time to actually jump into this kind of crafty side of me and i’d like to ask a few questions:
a) Do you draw the pattern on the inside or the outside of the clothing? And do you stitch the path of the pattern on the inside or the outside?
b) I don’t actually get the last part, what does the “press” in that step mean?
Thank you!

Reply
Bev

Latifh A.
“Press” means to iron so it has a nice finish.

Reply
Ingrid

Hi, thank you for your tutorial. It has been a lot of help. I am getting some puckering at the apex between the scallops. What am I doing wrong and do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

Reply
Beth (SunnyGal Studio)

Hi Ingrid – if you have puckers between the apex it means that the seam allowances is not clipped close enough to the stitching. Try that – carefully 🙂 and it should help. Snip the fabric a very tiny amount at a time and see if that does it.

Reply
Hannah

How would you make a scalloped hem on a circle skirt? I tried making it but since the bottom of the skirt isn’t straight I am not able to flip the scallops.

Reply

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