The Art of Ornamental Trims

Passementerie refers to the art of making elaborate trimmings or edgings of braids, cords, gimps, beads, or other decorative elements. These ornamental trims are often used to embellish and enhance the beauty of textiles, such as clothing, upholstery, curtains, and other fabric-based items.

It has a long history and has been used in various cultures and periods to add a touch of luxury and sophistication to garments and furnishings. The term itself is derived from the French word "passement," which means "ornament." The art of passementerie includes various techniques, such as braiding, knotting, tassels, fringes, and other intricate patterns.

Common types of passementerie and their applications include:

Braids and Cords: Elaborate braids and cords are often used to trim the edges of garments, drapery, and upholstery. We see them most commonly on pillows, around the edges of drapery panels, bottom and top edges of cornices, valances and roman shades.

Tassels: Tassels are decorative elements made by tying knots in the ends of threads or cords, creating a hanging ornament. When attached to a lip band they can be used on pillows, leading edges of drapery panels, bedding, valances and as drapery hold backs.

Fringes: Fringes are ornamental trims consisting of loose, hanging threads or strips attached to the edge of a fabric. Mostly used on pillows and throws, this type of trim has also been adorning lampshades, drapery, swags, jabots and valances in recent years.

Gimps: Gimps are narrow, ornamental braids often used to outline or decorate the edges of fabric. These offer a way to finish off two adjoining fabrics or cover a seam on the back of cornices, on color blocked panels and pillows. Wider trims are also widely used down the leading edge of drapery panels.

Beadwork: Beads can be incorporated into passementerie to add a touch of glamour and sparkle. You can find beads on single tassels, small tassel and fringe trims, and wide flat tapes.

Passementerie can be found in traditional and contemporary designs, and artisans often use a combination of materials and techniques to create unique and intricate decorative elements. While historically associated with high-end fashion and interior design, passementerie continues to be appreciated for its craftsmanship and ability to elevate the aesthetic appeal of custom fabricated items.

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