The Ultimate Guide to Trim

Get the skinny on decorative trims, what they're called, and how to use them.

By Maria Schwamman


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Gimp trim
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Gimp and Scallop Trim

    Gimp is a flat, narrow trim (usually less than a half inch wide) and commonly used to cover upholstery tacks or to embellish draperies, pillows, and cushions.

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Scallop Trim

    Some gimp is shaped in a scallop pattern.

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Galloon Trim

    A galloon is an elaborately woven, very wide type of gimp that often contains metallic threads. It is used to edge draperies, valances, cornices, and skirts of upholstered furniture.

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Braided Trim

    Braid is a wider and flatter version of a gimp and often has embroidered details.

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Tape Trim

    Tape has a flat, smooth weave and is used to create borders on pillows, slipcovers, draperies, and upholstery. Some is embellished with a fringe of threads or beads.

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Piping

    Piping and cord are usually used to reinforce and define seams on cushions and pillows for a clean, tailored look. Piping, also called welting, is made of cord encased in strips of bias-cut fabric or ribbon.

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Monochromatic Cord

    Cord, also called cable, is usually made of two or more strands twisted or plaited together. It often has a flange, the flat band of fabric that allows it to be sewn into a seam.

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Multicolored Cord

    Cord takes on many different looks, depending on the materials used, the number of strands, and how they are twisted together. Here's an example of multicolored cord.

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Complex Designs

    Each strand itself has a different pattern in a complex cord. Cord that doesn't have a flange is meant to be glued on, not sewn.

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Unexpected Metallic

    Unexpected materials, such as metallic threads, make simple cord more dressy.

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Suede Cord

    Suede is another material that's cropped up recently in trim and cord.

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Leather Cord

    Leather woven into geometric patterns is a contemporary take on traditional cording.

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Bullion Fringe

    Fringe consists of a heading (where the strands are sewn together at the top) and a skirt (the strands that hang from the heading). The threads can be cut, looped, or twisted, or they may support beads or tassels. Fringe is used to edge draperies, window shades, table skirts, pillows, and lampshades. The thick, twisted strands of bullion once trimmed the shoulders of military uniforms. Today, it graces the bottoms of chairs, sofas, and ottomans.

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Loop Fringe

    Loop fringe has a skirt made of uncut strands of chenille yarn.

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Brush Fringe

    Cut threads make up the full skirt on brush fringe. The tiny loops along the top and bottom of a heading are called picots.

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Tassel Fringe

    Tassel fringe that has hand-tied tassels is more expensive than the machine-tied variety.

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How to Care for Trims

    -- Whether the trim is sewn or glued on, make sure it is firmly attached before you vacuum upholstery or window treatments.
    -- To freshen handmade trims, carefully remove them and place in a mesh laundry bag. Fluff in the dryer on the lowest temperature setting. Reattach with hand stitching. (Note: This method is not for trims sewn into seams, and the dryer may damage very fragile trimmings.)

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Tips for Choosing and Using Trims

    -- For proper placement, first assess a trim's stability. For example, don't use delicate beaded fringe on furniture.
    -- To avoid the fabric puckering where trim is sewn on, choose trim that's the same weight as the fabric.
    -- Help draperies hang better by adding a band of heavy trim along the sides and bottom.
    -- Attach braid or gimp to upholstery with fabric glue, but sew it onto draperies or pillows.
    -- Expect to pay more for trims made from natural fibers than those made from synthetics.
    -- If you're on a budget, reserve pricey trims for use on small projects, where a couple yards can have a big impact.

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