THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

May 15, 2009

Sheer Genius: Tricot Tricks

Filed under: Fabric,Inspirations,Lingerie,sewing — georgene @ 8:46 pm

tricot blouseThis wonderful nylon tricot blouse is probably from the 1940’s or early 50’s. Just the thing to wear over that great camisole or vintage lacy slip, tucked in at the waist of your pencil skirt. (Maybe you pinched one from your mom’s lingerie drawer when you were about 17 years old.)

The blouse must have been washed hundreds of times, yet it still looks great and the tiny overlocked seams are holding up just fine. I have been staring at this top for weeks and I am fascinated by all the details. Not only is it a great lesson in how to work with tricot, I can see using some of these techniques with other sheer knitted fabrics, particularly lace.

front detailThe frills at the front are raw edge lengthwise grain strips. Tricot will curl along this grain, so the natural curl of the fabric is used as if it were a roll hem.

front neck detailThe placket is just folded back, raw at the inside edge. A bias binding finishes the collar to the neck, with the turnback used to clean the front neck as if it were a little facing. The buttons and button holes keep the facing from going anywhere, and it is sewn in at the waist seam.

underarm seamThe ½” hem at the armhole is folded with a tiny 1/8” turnback and topstitched – a very dainty finish that looks great from the outside.

outer side seam At the bottom, a double fold baby hem.

inner side seam I love the really narrow overlock serging through out the garment- looks like a French seam from the outside.

inside back neckNotice that the collar is on the fold, so that there is no seam at the edge to distract. It crosses over at the back neck, to make a lovely shape when folded.

Tricot is more often reserved only for lingerie and nightwear now. A good online resource is Sew Sassy, a website that carries all things related to making lingerie. I see they have a note about this fabric – how to sew and care for tricot:

“Do not prewash. The sides will roll and you will have a terrible time keeping the seams flat. Use a ball point needle and extra fine thread in a conventional machine. Woolly nylon thread is suggested for the lower loopers of your serger, but regular serger thread will work. Never use a hot iron on tricot. It will melt. With lingerie, you can always sew a bow, applique, or ribbon over a mistake and no one will be the wiser. Machine wash warm, dry low. Remove immediately.”

Personally I would use wooly nylon only for lingerie applications. It will not give you the fine seam appearance that is so great in this piece.

Tricot can be used in crossgrain strips as a seam binding. Pull it gently as you set it on and it will curl around the edge of the seam.



  1. What a treat to view this blouse! They sure knew how to take advantage of all of the tricots assets. I would love to know how you came across this beauty.

    Comment by Bunny — May 15, 2009 @ 10:07 pm

  2. Beautiful!

    Comment by Trudy Callan — May 16, 2009 @ 12:14 am

  3. Beautiful..absolutely beautiful….

    Comment by Pam ~Off The Cuff ~ — May 16, 2009 @ 5:42 am

  4. What a great post. It’s a beautiful blouse with great information and ideas.

    Comment by Nancy k — May 16, 2009 @ 6:01 am

  5. Interesting way to use tricot. Unfinished edges, seam treatments. Thank you for posting this.

    Comment by Gwen — May 16, 2009 @ 6:33 am

  6. Thanks for this information!

    Comment by Angelia — May 16, 2009 @ 8:00 am

  7. How much fun this is. I love looking and examining these beautiful treasures. I work on heirloom and antique garments all the time, and it is so much fun to see not only the beautiful workmanship, but also the gorgeous fabrics that were used.

    Thanks for the “viewing”!

    Comment by ClaireOKC — May 16, 2009 @ 8:35 am

  8. perfect

    Comment by minikmimik — May 17, 2009 @ 9:16 am

  9. Thank you for sharing. This is such a lovely, delicate piece.

    Comment by Summerset — May 17, 2009 @ 1:13 pm

  10. I’m a tad confused. This is a vintage piece? With serged edges?

    Comment by Sarah — May 18, 2009 @ 1:04 am

  11. Yes, this is a vintage piece. Sergers have been around for quite a while, but only in industrial settings until recently. I have nighties and slips from 50-60 years ago that are serged very finely. The seams on this piece are serged. The edges are topstitched or left raw to curl.

    Comment by georgene — May 18, 2009 @ 1:23 am

  12. From Wikipedia:

    “Overlock stitching was invented by the Merrow Machine Company in 1881.

    J. Makens Merrow and his son Joseph Merrow, who owned a knitting mill established in Connecticut in 1838, developed a number of technological advancements to be used in the mill’s operations. Merrow’s first patent was a machine for crochet stitching. Merrow still produces crochet machines based on this original model. This technology was a starting point for the development of the overlock machine, patented by Joseph Merrow in 1889. Unlike standard lockstitching, which uses a bobbin, overlock sewing machines utilize loopers to create thread loops for the needle to pass through, in a manner similar to crocheting. Merrow’s original three-thread overedge sewing machine is the forerunner of contemporary overlocking machines. Over time, the Merrow Machine Company pioneered the design of new machines to create a variety of overlock stitches, such as two, and four-thread machines, the one-thread butted seam, and the cutterless emblem edger.

    A landmark lawsuit between Wilkox & Gibbs and the Merrow Machine Company in 1905 established the ownership and rights to the early mechanical development of overlocking to the Merrow Machine Company.

    Throughout the early 19th Century the areas of Connecticut, USA and New York USA were the centers of textile manufacturing and machine production. Consequently many overlock machine companies established themselves in the Northeastern United States.”

    Comment by georgene — May 18, 2009 @ 1:26 am

  13. I remember my grandmother wearing a navy gabardine suit with a sheer pink blouse, tucked, dainty and althogether gorgeous in my young eyes. Thank you for this post.

    Comment by Carla — May 19, 2009 @ 3:10 pm

  14. Love it! Whenever I come across a unique top or blouse in a thrift store, I pounce. The details in these ‘old’ items are wonderful. Thank you for posting the construction analysis and I can’t want to see your ‘recreation’.

    Comment by Suzanna — May 22, 2009 @ 8:19 am

  15. There is much to learn from this fantastic blouse; thank you for sharing

    Comment by Tany — May 24, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

  16. Realy very nice…


    Comment by irina — May 31, 2009 @ 1:19 am

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