Applied decoration (also called applied work) may include, for decorative needlework, the sewing down of items onto cloth, leather or a similar ground material. These items are normally sewn down in a deliberate and decorative manner and are often combined with decorative stitching. Applied items may include beads, bracteates, cloth, coins, chains, mirrors, seeds, shells, wire, etc.
Beetlewing embroidery is an applied technique using iridescent beetle wing casings (rather than the actual beetlewings). For at least several centuries, this type of work has been carried out in various Asian countries, notably China, India, Japan, Myanmar and Thailand.
A bracteate is a thin, metal (especially gold) disc or shaped form, which is sewn onto a textile or item of clothing. A bracteate is normally small, only a few centimetres in diameter. A bracteate can be very simple, or highly embellished with other materials, sich as beads, gems, or (enamelled) glass.
Cowrie (also spelt cowry) is the common name for a marine gastropod of the genus Cypraea, family Cypraeidae. The word cowrie is often used to describe the shell of these snails. The shells are normally egg shaped, with a flat underside. The term ‘porcelain’ is said to derive from an old Italian term for the cowrie shell (porcellana), on account of their translucent appearance.
Mother-of-pearl is a composite material produced by some forms of molluscs as an inner shell layer. The molluscs are notably mussels and oysters. The material is strong, resilient and iridescent. Mother-of-pearl has long been used in various parts of the world for making decorative buttons for garments.
Nacré work is a form of decorative needlework using mother-of-pearl (French: nacré). Traditionally, nacré work consists of shapes, such as petals and leaves, cut out of mother-of-pearl, which have one or more holes drilled into them. The shapes are then sewn onto a velvet or silk ground using silk or gold thread.
In the nineteenth century, a paillette was a simple piece of coloured foil or bright metal used to ornament textiles. In the latter half of the twentieth century, the term paillette was used for a much wider range of shapes and materials, with one or more holes to attach the shape to the textile. The term is often incorrectly used for a sequin (UK), which is a small disc with a single hole in the centre.
Passement is an archaic term for both braids and laces that were applied flat to clothes or as a border to a curtain, etc. In particular the term was associated with a metal thread braid used to edge a garment. The term comes from the French word passement, and it was in wide-spread use in Britain from the fifteenth to the early seventeenth centuries, when the term passement was in the main replaced by dentelle (Fr: lace).
Passementerie is a general term used for fringes, gimps, ornamental cords, tassels, trimmings and so forth that are sewn down onto a garment or textile of some form. The term can also be used to describe a form of applied embroidery, whereby a flexible cord or braid is couched down in a decorative pattern onto a ground material.
A pearl is a hard, iridescent object produced within the soft tissue of a living, shelled mollusc. A pearl is made up of calcium carbonate and layers of animal membrane (conchiolin). The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but many other shapes of pearls (baroque pearls) occur.