Stitching and the Button
Robbie Caponetto

Trims are an easy and clever way to give an ordinary window treatment a custom look or fancy finish. They are useful in accenting a window treatment and in emphasizing its shape and form. The embellishments range from thick, corded tiebacks and tasseled fringes to ruffled lace trim and velvet ribbons. These trimmings are known collectively as passementerie.

Tassels are sold by the piece, other trims by the yard. Look for a wide assortment in fabric stores and shops specializing in drapery and upholstery supplies, or order them through an interior designer. Of the items described here, tassels are commonly found in mail-order catalogs and retail stores that sell decorative window hardware and ready-made curtain and drapery panels. You can also make your own tassels from kits.

High-quality trimmings from a decorator or designer showroom are beautifully constructed (sometimes by hand), luxurious-looking, and expensive -- you can easily pay hundreds of dollars for a single tassel. Trims from retail sources, including fabric and drapery supply stores, aren’t as lavish, but the cost is much less.

Trims are available in natural or synthetic fibers. High-end items are often made of silk, linen, cotton, or wool, with rayon or viscose sometimes added for sheen. Many mass-marketed products are made of polyester, rayon, or acetate. Popular chenille trims are made from various fibers. Some of the more exclusive or innovative trims incorporate materials such as crystals or wood or ceramic beads. Additionally, some manufacturers offer metallic jewelry ornaments in various motifs, such as butterflies or dragonflies, that you can pin onto window treatments.

Choose trimmings that are compatible with the weight of the fabric or other material used in the window treatment. Also consider care and cleaning of trims that will be attached permanently. Use washable trims (and prewash them) on curtains or other window treatments that will be laundered, and dry-cleanable ones on treatments that will be sent to the dry cleaners. When shopping for trims, bring along a sample of the window-treatment material so you can see how the colors and textures blend. And take home a piece of the trim to see how it looks in the room.

Here are definitions of some trims commonly used as flourishes on window treatments.

Braid. A flat border, usually 1 to 3 inches wide, with two finished edges.

Cord. A rope made up of twisted strands or fibers, often used as a tieback for curtains or draperies. Lipped cord has a narrow flange that allows the cord to be sewn into a seam.

Eyelet. A flat or ruffled fabric trim with small holes. Eyelet beading has slits through which ribbon can be threaded.

Fringe. A border with short strands of yarn or cord on one edge. Types with densely packed, often multicolored cut threads are called brush fringe. Those with twisted strands are called rope fringe or bullion. In loop fringe, the strands are looped instead of hanging free. Other variations include caterpillar fringe (tubed yarn), ball fringe (little balls), tassel fringe (tassels), and tasseled bullion (a combination of yarn strands and tassels).

Gimp. A narrow braid, up to about ½ inch wide, with looped or scalloped borders.

Tassel. A dangling ornament made by binding strands of yarn or cord at one end. The most common type is a tassel tieback, which consists of one or two tassels attached to a looped cord or rope and is used for holding back curtains or draperies. Specialty trims include the swag tassel, which is designed to be suspended from a top treatment.

Welt. A fabric-covered cord, available in various diameters from about ¼ to 1 inch, with a narrow flange that can be stitched into a seam.


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