Drapery and window coverings sophistication and beautifully executed work have reached a zenith of accomplishment. Much of the exquisite design found today is the result of the successful combination of great design, flawless specification, expert craftsmanship and the careful and sensitive application of trimmings.
In this article, trimmings or passementerie definitions will allow for greater understanding and application of these to enhance our attention to detail. The term passementerie covers the entire spectrum of manufactured trimmings, either hand-tied or machine-made, of silk, rayon, linen or cotton. Included are the following types:
• Borders—flat, narrow textiles, 2 1/2 to six inches woven with complex Jacquard designs similar to lampas or tapestry. Borders are used on window treatments, upholstery and accessory items, and as wall trimmings.
• Braids or Galloons—flat, woven narrow textiles from 5/8 to four inches in width, which may be in a dobby or Jacquard pattern. Edges may be straight, looped, scalloped or cut.
• Flat braids or galloons are woven in satin, tabby or twill weaves, sometimes with floral designs.
• Raised openwork braids or galloons are made of gimp plied yarns (smooth and tight) which form open half or full scrolls. Braid is applied to window treatments, skirts of table covers and upholstery and bed linens.
• Cord and Rope—Cord consists of plied yarns twisted together ranging from 3/16 to one inch in diameter. Rope is over one inch in diameter. Yarns may be plain plies, twisted with few turns per inch, or gimped plies, wrapped very tightly around a core with many turns per inch. May be one color or multiple colors, and used alone or in combination with tassels or gimp.
• Barrier Rope is used to keep foot traffic restricted, and may be finished with a metal cuff and hook to be attached to upright heavy poles.
• Cord Tiebacks are single or double decorative cord in a continuous loop on each end to tie back draperies (see also tassel tiebacks below).
• Rail Rope or Stair Cord is used in place of a handrail. These may also be combined with tassels (see tassels below).
• Fringe—complex element consisting of a heading, such as gimp, braid or galloon, and an attached skirt.
• Base Fringe has a thick netted or woven yarn heading, almost like macramé usually with tassels or cut yarns at the bottom.
• Boulle or Bullion Fringe is made of cords instead of yarns which are 2 1/2 to 12 inches long, hard finish. Longer lengths are typically used on Victorian-style upholstery and table covers; shorter lengths as top treatment or drapery fringe. The cords are looped at the bottom and twisted together.
• Ceramic Bead Fringe is made with the addition of ornamental beads or drilled shaped pieces in place of or in combination with tassels.
• Cotton Ball or Pom Fringe is a country, casual fringe in which tassels are replaced with round tufts or poms, made entirely of cotton.
• Cut Moss or Moss Edge Fringe is a narrow plain heading and a full, generous skirt of fine yarns cut or looped.
• Fine Cut Fringe has flat skirt or thin yarns attached to a variety of headings from wide braids and galloons.
• Glass Bead Fringe is a heading with glass or composite beads attached to the yarn skirt. May be simple or very complex, short or long. The effect is jewelry-like.
• Loop Fringe has a flat skirt of very fine looped yarns.
• Netted Tassel Fringe features crisscrossed yarns between the heading and fringe.
• Rat Tail Fringe is a type of openwork galloon with a heading and large half-round loops or scallops in gimp yarns.
• Tassel Fringe is a heading, a looped fringe to which tassels are attached. Tassels may be spaced and sparse, lay in tight procession, or even be overlaid in various lengths, called multi-tasseled fringe.
• Wood Mold Fringe utilizes small balls or ornamental wood pieces in place of fringe attached to a heading.
• Gimp, Guimpe—flat, narrow woven textiles, 3/8 to 1/2-inch wide woven in many styles, plain or with scalloped looped. Used as upholstery tack coverings, as trimmings on walls, lampshades, pillows or other decorative areas.
• Flat Gimp is plain or woven with a scroll, diamond, ribbed or chevron pattern.
• Raised Surface Gimp utilizes piled yarns wrapped around a core in ornate scroll designs.
• Corded Gimp has a cord sewn either on the edge or the center.
• Grosgrain—uniformly ribbed, closely woven trimming ribbon in various narrow widths with a right cross-wise rib and finished edge. Solid colors.
• Ribbon is a narrow fabric that comes in different widths from 1/4 inch to three inches with selvage edges commonly of rayon, silk or velvet, and used for trimmings.
Rosettes, Bows, Tufts, Frogs are a category of single-item decorative trimmings used as a single finishing touch.
• Rosettes are made of yarns or fabric to resemble a rose.
• Bows are made of passementerie such as braid or yarns to form a custom bow and may be used in combination with other elements.
• Tufts are small (1/2 to 1 1/2 inch) circles of yarns in loops or cut yarns used as detail trimmings.
• Frogs are units of arranged cording in a decorative shape from 3/4 inch to five inches wide. May be called frog rosettes. Historically used as looped clasps on Chinese clothing. Today frogs may also incorporate tassels and become complex elements.
• Tassels and Tiebacks—a category of passementerie often used together. Tassels are individual elements made of a head and skit of yarn or cords with an optional variety of embellishments, which may include netting, tiny tassels, overlaid cords, frogs, wood or glass beads, to name a few. Tassels may be attached to cords for various purposes:
• Cord Tiebacks are single or double cords or ropes that are bound together in a cuff at the end with a loop to attach to a hook on the wall as a drapery is tied back.
• Chair Tassels or Chair Tie is a long cord with a tassel on each end that anchors the chair seat to the vertical stile of the chair.
• Chandelier Tassels are used as ornament around the suspending chain or pipe or at the bottom of the chandelier.
• Festoons are cords or thin ropes with tassels at each end, intended to swag or festoon at the top of the draperies. They must be used as a valence or in conjunction with a valence.
• Key Tassels are short, very full tassels three to 4-1/2 inches long traditionally attached to a key to a furniture piece. May be used as decoration on window treatments or attached to drawer knobs, for example.
• Ladder Tiebacks are a variation of the cord tiebacks in which a series of loops gives a knotted effect similar to ladder rugs.
• Tassel Tiebacks are substantial, sometimes very ornate tassels on a looped cord or rope used for holding back drapery panels.
• Lace and Apparel Trimmings—edging window treatments with trimmings from the apparel fabric store has become more common. Trimmings include pleated, plaited ribbon and edging, and lace of many types such as Chantilly, Battenberg and eyelet. Buttons, belting, appliqués and other trimming items are being creatively incorporated into trimmings.
• Ornamentation: Jewelry and Floral Accents—jewelry for window treatments can be made up of many materials, from resin to rolled steel to seashells to costume jewelry such as beads and broaches. These can be used as or with tieback holders, hung as pendants at the end of jabot or tabs, or stitched or glued to the face of the fabric. Magnets are used to secure jewelry manufactured for drapery ornamentation, which means their placement and effects can be changed as often as desired.
Silk greenery, florals and even dried flowers can form top treatments, be looped over drapery hardware, and be used as or with tiebacks. Small objects of art from any source can be cleverly used to accent window treatments. Advice: Don’t allow creativity to usurp good judgment.
• Fabric Trimmings—include custom fabricated ruffles, banding and items such as rosettes. These items can be somewhat complicated to calculate for yardage and pricing for the labor to sew. As a general rule, add one to two yards for ruffles and banding, and half a yard for each rosette.
Be certain to meet with the fabricator/seamstress on pricing as well as yardage requirements for ruffles, banding and rosettes. These items may need a little practice to calculate. Remember, banding is added up in linear inches and that pricing usually must be converted to feet or yardage for fabrication.
Both ruffles and banding are strips of fabric cut from the yardage. Banding is flat and top stitched or fused, and often cut on the bias because it will lay flat better. Ruffles are gathered or shirred two to three times fullness. The amount of yardage will depend on the number of strips needed and the cut width (finished width plus turn-under hem allowances).
Passementerie and fabric trimmings can add a substantial amount to the price of the draperies. They can also provide luxury and beauty to the window treatment, giving it an exclusive, custom look. Don’t be afraid to suggest trimmings to a client—it is often the difference that can set your designs apart from the competition. However, do use good judgments in placement, color coordination and amount of trimmings used. Be sure it is appropriate for the level of formality and the theme of the interior—compatible and complementary.
Braid, cord, gimp and fringe usually are sewn or glued onto the drapery treatment. Banding is either sewn on or fuse-bonded with a heat-sensitive fabrication tape and may be layered. Ruffles vary considerably in size and the way they are applied. They also can be layered, and often are added to create greater depth, luxury or to compliment a country or feminine theme.
Karla J. Nielson, Allied ASID, WCAA, is assistant professor of design at Brigham Young University. She has authored several books including Window Treatments, Un-derstanding Fabrics and Interiors: An Introduction, 3rd Ed. Nielson is a regular correspondent for Draperies & Window Coverings addressing the areas of fashion, education and merchandising.