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Give your soft furnishings that special look by adding fringing, braid, or piping. They can be used on curtains, cushions, tiebacks, blinds, lampshades and even tablecloths. Trimmings can create a tailored look that will give a special finish to any room. Outlining and defining soft furnishing is usually associated with traditional-style décor, but some brightly coloured modern fabrics can also be given a lift with the range of trimmings available.

There are different types of trimmings available but their suitability will depend on the item being trimmed. Braids are tightly woven bands used as decorative borders on cushions, curtains and furniture to define shape. They range in width from ¼” to 6″ and in style from plain ribbed bands to ornately patterned strips with looped edgings. Use colourful braids to add different textures and patterns to plain fabrics. Cords and ropes are used to emphasise the outline of chairs, curtains and cushions like piping. Heavy cords and ropes can be used as tiebacks. They come in a variety of colours and texture from natural cotton to gold thread and chenille. Flanged cord has a taped edge, which is stitched into a seam.

Fringes range from simple, single-colour to multi-coloured versions. Natural fiber fringes such as cotton, linen or silk could be dyed to match a colour scheme. Bullion fringe is made of rows of tightly twisted skeins, which form the fringe, and is attached to a heading. The more heavy versions are used for chairs and sofas. Tasselled fringe is a row of small tassels attached to a heading, while bobble fringe is a row of small pompons hung from a narrow braid heading and is a traditional favourite for cushions, lampshades and shelf edging.

Ribbons can be used in the same decorative ways as braid, but they are softer. You can have them from simple satins to rich velvet. Tassels range from small simple styles made with one yarn to multi-tasselled versions in combinations of different yarns. They are very useful a decorative feature.

Choosing Trimmings

Trimmings should be matched to a colour in the design of your fabric. If you match it to the background colour the effect will probably be subtle, but if you want a more defined outline, match the trimming with one of the stronger colours in the pattern to provide contrast. If you are using a plain fabric, you could use a completely different colour that matches another colour in the room’s décor. Contrasting trimmings will highlight and define the shape of soft furnishings.

The weight and type of trim should complement the fabric and the style of the item being trimmed. Deep thick fringing could be used with velvet or linen curtains, whereas a delicate one would suit lighter curtains. As a general rule use shiny elaborate trims on rich formal fabrics and on eg. a simple fabric like cotton use a cotton trim. Curtains with fringing can be heavy so you may need to use a strong pole eg. a metal one instead of wood. The size of the trimmings should be also taken into consideration eg. don’t use a large or deep one on curtains for a small window. Also don’t make the trimming look like an apology, it should be as much of a statement as the curtains themselves.

There are a wide selection of trimmings available in the shops, but if you cannot find exactly what you want. There are sample books from which you can order the right colour and style to suit your needs, Some fabric companies include co-ordinated trimmings with their fabric samples. Also find out if the trim is washable before you buy it eg. you don’t want to apply a dry-clean only one to a washable curtain unless you are willing to remove it each time you need to wash the curtain. Include the trims in your design plans from the start so they don’t look like an afterthought.

The way you attach a trimming will depend on the type of trim, where it’s being added and how much wear and tear it will get. You can stitch it by hand, machine-stitch, glue, fuse with iron-on bonding or use upholsterer’s tacks. Sometimes for example flat braid can look better if hand-sewn as the lines of the machine sewing may spoil the finished effect. Trimming will unravel as you are working with them, to avoid this turn the ends under and secure with sellotape. Before you start know at what stage the trimming is attached eg. flanged cord should be attached when the main seams are stitched whereas others are used to cover-up the seams.

Ideas for Trimmings

Ideas for trimming your soft furnishings can arrange from delicate fringes on floral curtains to brightly coloured braid on the latest fabrics. Plain curtains can be decorated lavishly with braid. Cord and fringing to make an eye-catching feature. A silk fringe can make a swagged valance elegant. On gracious windows you can readily go town on swags and tails using rich contrast fringing to show-off their folds and contours. But you need tall windows to carry off swags and tails treatments. If you have a tall window eg. on a landing, edge the centre of the curtain with a deep fringing and hold in place to one side with a tasselled cord. Goblet pleats are one of the most elegant of curtain headings. The stitching feature of the curtains is the sculptured shape of each goblet, a double row of cord loops under each goblet would emphasise the gracious shape of the design. A kitchen window could be decorated with bright patterned curtains and a plain white blind, which are linked with matching fringing on the curtain edge and a wide braid on the blind. The braid could be glued to the blind. Fringing will also help to define the shape of a pelmet. If you use strong contrast between the fringe and fabric of eg. a serpent tail pelmet, it will make a powerful impact.

Cushions can add highlights of colour or unusual textures to your living room. Scattered attractively on sofas and armchairs create a warm and inviting atmosphere. You can decorate them with cord, fringing or braid. They can be added as the cushion is been made or some can be added afterwards. It is an inexpensive way of having lavish fabrics and trims in the décor.

Tassels can be used to decorate many items—curtain tiebacks, pelmets, lampshades, cushions, etc. Tassels come in a large variety of shapes and sizes. Multi-coloured ones will help to draw together the colours of the décor. You could have fun matching your own, which would add that personal touch to the room. Tassels can be suspended from poles or used as tiebacks, or small tassels could be hung from each point of a pelmet.

Bedspreads or tablecloths are other items that can be trimmed, even the simplest tablecloth is elegant edged with fringing. To co-ordinate a bedroom look, add a trim down the edge of plain curtains or pelmet, using the same fabric on a bed cover or dressing-tablecloth or use patterned curtains and edge the plain bedspread.

The range of decorative edgings and trimmings available is huge—so you should be able to find a trimming to enhance, outline, emphasise or harmonise with every colour, style and type of soft furnishing. The only limitation is your imagination.

Mary D. Kelly
Decorating Options
(091) 798224