Monday, 29 April 2013


French designers and decorators have always used a vast array of trimmings (known as passementerie) for their curtains, cushions and bed hangings and in the late 18C. and all through the 19C there was a vast range of styles to choose from - many specially made for particular cloths.  ~~~~They can be in all sorts of combinations, sometimes using wooden balls and drops as foundations and the threads used could be metal, silk or cotton, all arranged in different styles to suit the work in hand, with gimp,  braids and fringes and little tassels added for embellishment. I have some very early Victorian silk curtains, either Lyons or Spitalfields, which have a special braid and fringes all round made from the same silk, and the bows on the tiebacks are made from copper with the silk wound round them and built to last!    Very elaborate and absolutely lovely!I came across an interesting book illustrating many of these confections and found it useful to date the examples I bought from time to time when collecting decorations in France.  Very often they were slightly worn and shredded but when placed against a bit of shabby chic seemed to fit the bill and do the job.  I do like to see curtains slightly hitched up so the front leading edge falls in a graceful silhouette against the light  and if there are fringes and borders, this makes the most of the leading edge.   Period pelmets demand full and fancy fringes and ruchings to go with the rich materials.  In fact in my drawing room I have three different  tassel pairs for my tie backs and no-one seems to notice the slight differences - or are too polite to say so!    If you have old curtains and cushions, it is worth saving these trimmings as they are rare to find and new, are hideously expensive!  My American book is by June Duval and is titled Antique French Textiles for Designers (Schiffer Books).  My very damaged remnants go to the film wardrobe ladies who use them for epic costumes and don't mind the distressed state of them.

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