How to Add Crochet Trim to Any Fabric Edge

comments (16) September 9th, 2008     

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CalPatch cal patch, contributor
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Crochet gives a handmade edge to this simple T-shirt.
The shirt before.
The shirt with the neckband cut off.
Crochet gives a handmade edge to this simple T-shirt.

Crochet gives a handmade edge to this simple T-shirt.

Photo: Cal Patch
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One of my favorite ways to add a handmade touch to garments I make or to customize manufactured clothing is to embellish with a crochet edging. Crochet, unlike embroidery or knitting, can't be done by machines, so I consider it the ultimate handcraft. In this tutorial, I'll be using a T-shirt neckline, but the same technique can be adapted for use on a cuff or hem of any knit or woven garment.

1. Since I'm using a premade T-shirt in this example, the first thing to do is cut off the neckband.

The shirt "before."


Here's the shirt with the neckband cut off.

You can make the neckline lower and/or wider if you want to, since it'll be filled back in with the crochet.

2. Next, I turn the raw edge under by 1/4 inch and pin it all around. Sometimes I don't turn the edge under, but doing so gives a cleaner look.

Close-up of the raw edge turned under 1/4 inch and pinned.

crochet embellishment Get more crochet projects:

How to Embellish with Crochet Inserts
How to Embellish Flip Flops with Crochet
How to Patch a Hole with Crochet

3. Ready to crochet! Note: I'm using a fingering-weight yarn, but you can experiment with different weights to see what works best for your garment. Because my yarn is fine, I'm able to use one of my tiny steel hooks, which are great for poking directly into the knit of the shirt. If you decide to use worsted or bigger yarn, you will want to prepoke your holes with a large darning needle so that you can get the hook through. (I would make a test swatch first to check gauge and how far apart the holes should be.) You may also wish to measure and mark (with a disappearing marker) your hole placement before you begin. Me, I just dive right in!

First row: With a slip knot on your hook, pierce the neckline of the shirt 1/4 inch away from the folded edge, just behind the right side shoulder seam, and join with a slipstitch.

Pierce the neckline with your hook, and join the yarn on with a slipstitch.

Now, you can use any stitch pattern you like, but this is what I did: Chain 6 (that's 3 turning chains plus 3 across) and double crochet 5/8 inch over from the join. Chain 3, double crochet again 5/8 inch over.

Work around the neck in a chain 3, double crochet pattern.

Continue around in this manner until you reach the beginning chain 6, and join with a slipstitch in the third chain.

At the end of the first row, join into the third chain with a slipstitch.

This is what the first row looks like...

Second row: From this point on, you won't be piercing the shirt any more, so you can switch to a slightly bigger hook if you want to. Slipstitch into the next 2 chains (so that you are in the center of the chain-3 space), chain 5 (that's 3 turning chains plus 2 across), and double crochet into the next chain-3 space. Chain 2 and double crochet into the next space, and continue around. Join with a slipstitch into the the third chain of the beginning chain 5, and finish off. Weave in the ends.

...and here is the completed second row.

A close-up view of the technique.

And there you have it! Anything with a hole in it (or that you can make holes in) can be crocheted into, so play around. I've done it on everything from sweatshirts to denim skirts, and it always looks amazing!


Check out my upcoming book, Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified, due out in September 2009 from Potter Craft! You can also keep up with me at my blog and etsy shop

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Comments (16)

kaoldt writes: What is the best type of yarn/thread to use with the tshirt material? Does it pucker or require blocking after being laundered?
Posted: 1:12 pm on September 25th
ohthankheaven writes: I'm sorry, but the puckered holes look like CRAP. Please--- there has to be a better way. I've seen tons of great stuff on this site, but this is what I consider the "ghetto rigged" I-definitely-made-it-myself look.
Posted: 9:45 am on July 2nd
captainboo writes: I am sooo trying this! thanks so much !
Posted: 5:20 pm on August 31st
jkblu58 writes: This will definitely make at cute pajama top for those custom made pajamas.
Posted: 9:39 am on November 11th
CalPatch writes: i only punch it through one layer, just barely beyond where the second layer ends. have fun!
Posted: 2:20 pm on October 16th
agrafikartist writes: Do you punch the crochet hook thru both layers of fabric? It appears that you turn the fabric over about 1/4", so that's why I am asking. Or do you punch the crochet hook just below the 1/4" turned over fabric? I hope I am making myself clear. I really like this idea and want to try it out.
Posted: 7:53 pm on October 15th
Jen1964 writes: Love the idea! Josefly, let us know how it works out! Some of my favorite pullover sweaters have that 1 or 1-1/2 (or even 2) inch "collar" standing up. If that's a mock turtle, I don't know. I can imagine your project with either the crew neck or that. My favorite thing to do with the too-tight, too-scratchy sweaters is to take the sleeves off and make dog sweaters out of them. (Fronts or backs can be bed covers for Westies & other small dogs like mine) Once you find the seam, it's not too hard to un-sew it. No need to cut that way. I suppose you would find a seam like that on your turtleneck as well. No need to stay-stitch if you do it that way. In any case, have fun!
Posted: 9:39 am on September 17th
gardenparty writes: cal patch! you crafty gal! this is a fun post.
i have so many tees that need re-lovin'--this should
be a great, stormy weather day project.
Posted: 7:20 pm on September 15th
CalPatch writes: hi Josefly, that sounds like a great idea! and if you're not wearing it anyway, what have you got to lose? it's hard for me to advise without seeing the sweater (is it hand-knit or machine?), but stay-stitching the neck couldn't hurt. i assume there's already a neck seam? and i don't see why using the unravelled yarn should be a problem; it'll be cool that it matches. you may just need to use it 2- or 3-ply depending on how fine the knit is... good luck and post a pic when youre finished!
Posted: 4:03 pm on September 15th
discodotty writes: This is a nifty and sweet idea. They sell little contraptions to make these holes for you as well. Some folks like to do a blanket stitch around the edge, and use that as your hole and anchor as you make your way around. happy hooking to all.
Posted: 9:41 am on September 15th
Josefly writes: I'm so glad to see these instructions. Very clear. Thank you.

I've been wanting to remove a too-long, too-tight, turtle neck from a sweater that fits nicely otherwise, and had thought of replacing the turtle neck with crocheted trim using the yarn unraveled from the part I remove. I think you've given me the courage to try it - my crochet experience has thus-far been limited to scarves. Would you advise stay-stitching the neckline of the sweater before I cut off the turtle-neck? Any problems you know of, in using unraveled yarn?
Posted: 12:11 pm on September 14th
CalPatch writes: i like debbie stoller's Happy Hooker and kelly ronci's Kids Crochet (meant for kids = big, clear illustrations!), but i would spend some time in the bookstore or library and find a book that really speaks to you. also one that has projects you really like, so you'll be excited and inspired to make them ;n)
Posted: 12:21 am on September 13th
eyesaflame writes: Oh, this is so great! I'd really love to learn how to crochet so that I can incorporate it into my fiber art and clothing remakes - is there a book you'd recommend (with really big, clear illustrations?)
Posted: 5:20 pm on September 12th
CalPatch writes: hi crafty gal! i use a very small steel hook for the first round, and it is fairly pointed so it pokes through quite easily. but if you don't have a good pointy hook to use, or if you're using bigger yarn that a tiny hook can't grap, you can poke your holes first (or as you go) with a darning needle. hope that helps!
Posted: 12:22 pm on September 11th
crafty_gal writes: Hi Cal, is it hard to pierce the fabric with your crochet hook?
Posted: 10:46 am on September 11th
Sister_Diane writes: Awesome - thanks for the great photos. I totally feel like I could do this now!
Posted: 2:36 pm on September 9th
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