I love rickrack but my befuddlement with it started when I was six or seven years old. I had a white dress with some tiny red rickrack sewn on it. The manufacturer had attached it by sewing a straight seam down the center of the rickrack, which meant that after the first washing the zigs and the zags were hopelessly curled up in the center around the stitching. Even at a young age I loved the graphic quality of the red zigzag on my white dress and was frustrated that it would never lie flat and look as pretty as I knew it should. Even at a young age I had strong opinions about design!
Since then I’ve wondered about the best way to attach rickrack. I want an elegant method of machine sewing that doesn’t detract from the zigzag from but still makes the trim lie flat washing after washing. Although I’m still trying to figure out how to attach by machine tiny rickrack, I have come up with a method for medium to large rickrack. I’ll warn you, however, that if you’re an impatient sort you might want to stop reading right here.
It’s all in dropping your feed dogs. Not all sewing machines have this capability so if your machine doesn’t ask around for a friend who might lend you one that does. After I dropped the feed dogs, I replaced my regular sewing foot with the clear embroidery foot for maximum visibility along the edge of the rickrack. I chose some thread that disappears on the rickrack, but I could have also used invisible thread. Next I pinned the rickrack in place and slid it under the foot so the needle caught the edge of the rickrack and attached it beautifully to the garment. Once you’ve done one side, repeat on the other side.
If you’re new to dropping your feed dogs, here are a few hints to keep in mind. The role of the feed-dogs is to regulate the length of your stitches, so once you’ve dropped them the speed at which you move the fabric under the needle will determine the stitch length. Try to be as consistent as you can about your sewing speed or else you’ll get stitches that vary in length.
I’m happy to report that the pink rickrack sewn onto my daughter’s pants in the photo above has weathered countless washings and hasn’t curled a bit. I’m still stumped about the tiny rickrack though. Any suggestions?