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Feb 29, 2016

Ladies Tailoring: Mitered Corners



A mitered corner, which one usually finds in a tailored garment where a facing and a hem would otherwise overlap, is not difficult to make if one knows how.

In my ladies tailoring class, we're using mitered corners where the back hem and back center slit meet.  Without the mitered corner, either the hem or the seam allowance of the slit would overlap the other, creating a lot of bulk and a visible overlap line (if one looked for it).  Think of a wooden picture frame: you wouldn't expect the side of the frame to overlap the bottom, or the bottom to overlap the side.  Instead, they meet at a diagonal.  A mitered corner is a beautiful touch in both carpentry and tailoring.



Here's how we were taught by our professor to create these.

First, we lay the seam allowance of the slit over the turned-up hem (see below).  With a pair of scissors, we cut a shallow notch in the inside corner of the overlap.  By shallow I mean less than 1/4".



We now open the layers, and with chalk, we rule a straight line between the notches.  One notch will be on the side of the slit, the other on the hem.  In my case, both the hem and the slit seam allowance are 1 1/2",  so the ruled line forms a right triangle.  If the hem were wider than the seam allowance (or vice versa) this would not be the case, but you'd still want to rule that line between the two notches.



On our tailored skirt, before creating the mitered corner, we need to add our Hong Kong finish to our raw seam allowances.  The finish covers up the notches we cut so, following the chalk line that's still visible, we extend it over the bias finish.  (The bias edge is wider on the inside of the opened hem to accommodate our hand hemming stitches -- we'll address hemming in a later post.)



Now we fold the corner from the center of the chalk line so that two equal lengths of chalk line overlap, like we were making a paper airplane. (We're folding our triangle in half.)  We're going to machine stitch along the folded chalk line, matching the chalk line on both sides.  Basting helps.  (You can also sew starting at the seam binding, the opposite direction of the one shown below).





Now, with a finger, we open out the two-layered triangle to form a flat square.  Think origami!





We will push the square to the inside of the corner, shaping the corner with a point presser and flattening all the layers.  Press.





Notice that there is no trimming involved in this method.  If at some future time we want to lengthen the hem of the skirt, we can do so.  If we trimmed off the triangle below our original chalk mark, the hem could no longer be lengthened.  I hope that's clear.

And there you have it: mitered corners!

BTW, it's pronounced might-ered.  (I used to say meet-ered.)

Have a great day, everybody! 

24 comments:

  1. Wow. I feel like a lightbulb just went on in my head. I've always struggled with mitered corners. Great tute!

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  2. Peter The Great!!!

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  3. Exactly the way I learned it. Lovely.

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  4. Thank you, this is very useful!!!

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  5. This is brilliant! I took tailoring classes years ago and never learned this, was taught to cut off triangle.

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  6. I love this tutorial. I would think the untrimmed fabric square would also add a little weight and help keep the corners of the skirt slit where they belong.

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  7. I am a huge fan of the handkerchief and use this method (although I trim before tucking back in) but had no idea it could be used to hem a skirt. Many thanks for sharing the skills you are paying to learn, for us unfortunates who are not attending. Bravo.

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  8. Lovely work as always Peter, and thanks for the explanation for not trimming.

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  9. OMG, thank you Peter for this very well illustrated tutorial! I am saving this in my favorites for future reference!!

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  10. First of your posts I've seen. Beautifully written, so easy to follow, and wonderful photos. I have been sewing for nearly 60 years and am still learning. Thanks.

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  11. Ooh, I'd wear that inside out. Hm. You know, the hem has always been the undoing of all the reversable things I've attempted.
    So I guess I thank you for the next project! It's Peter for the Pin!

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  12. This is the same way I make mitered corners o dinner napkins and I always feel like a genius.

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    1. Mitered corners on napkins? I want to eat dinner at your house! LOL

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  13. Lovely detail and tutorial, Peter. Thanks for sharing that with us.

    BTW - how wide is the seam binding you use for hong kong? When I use Hug Snug for binding raw edges I feel like I have to pay really close attention while sewing the first side, otherwise I run out of width when wrapping it around and stitching down on the other side. There is probably a better way to do it though.

    Wish I was taking that class with you!

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    1. Hi, Holly. The width is generally 1". For the hem and inside waistband, the width is 1 1/2".

      You stitch at 1/4" and wrap it around the edge and edgestitch from above at approx. 1/4". That leaves an extra 1/4" width if you cut your binding 1" wide.

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  14. Canvas workers zig-zag the edging in case -- just in case, you understand -- they miss a stitch on the back side. That way, they get both sides of the edging in one pass.

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  15. This is great....I can handle a mitered bound corner, such as on a quilt, but this is golden.

    Math nerd moment....no matter what, because there's a 90 degree corner, you'll always have a "right triangle." Pythagorean theorem and all that....

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    1. I was just going to comment the same thing. I think he meant you'll have an isosceles triangle when the hem and side allowances measure the same. A right triangle exists because of the 90-degree angle and not because of the side lengths. I have no shame in flying my math nerd flag. =)

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    2. Math nerds unite! Good math makes all things easier.
      Kris

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  16. I use this method too and love it. It's so perfect. I learned to do it in an article by Judy Burlap on Japanese tailoring methods. She also has a great bound buttonhole method. Really easy.

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  17. While I do well with mitered corners, I had never seen the snip and mark tip... genius! You can always learn to do a good thing better!

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