Braids, Cords and Ribbons

Sik ribbon, made in Coventry, England, c. 1850. Sik ribbon, made in Coventry, England, c. 1850. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. T.304-1967.

One thing that has become clear while writing TRC Needles and working on the TRC Collection database is the need for a consistent definition of various groups of objects. This problem applies especially to braids, cords and ribbons. Standard encyclopaedia and dictionary definitions are often too general or even contradictory, and the problem is compounded by different English UK and USA forms.

TRC has developed a set of standard definitions for this (and other) groups of textile 'accessories'. Please be aware that there are overlaps and sometimes it is hard to decide whether an item, for example, is a braid or a ribbon, but looking at the width, cross-section and flexibility of a relevant object will help in identifying which catagory it belongs to.

Bias binding: a narrow, flat and flexible woven band that is cut on the bias to add flexibility. Bias bindings are normally monochrome in apperance. The two long sides of the tape are folded and ironed into the centre of the band, limiting the width of the binding to between 1.0 and 1.5 cm. The fold lines are used as guide lines when sewing the binding onto a garment or similar object. Bias bindings are often used to neaten or finish an edge on the inside of a garment.

Braid: a length of semi-flexible, flattish, decorative (interlaced, knotted, woven) band that may be made of two or more different types of thread. They are often, but not necessarily, made from types of metallic thread and may include additional items such as beads. Braids are usually between 1.0 - 8.0 cm in width. Sometimes one side of a braid may have fringes or tassels that are woven into the braid or attached in some other matter. A braid may be used as an edging or trimming on a garment, accessory, furnishing, etc.

Cord: a narrow, flexible woven band that is normally round or square in cross-section and monochrome in appearance, although multi-coloured cords also occur. They are usually between 0.25 and 1.0 cm in diameter. Cords are often used as a couched line in some forms of applied decoration such as passementerie.

Lace (military lace or navy lace): a flat, semi-flexible, decorative, woven band that has a metallic thread weft. Such bands are usually between 0.5 - 8.0 cm in width. This form of lace should not be confused with other forms of lace, such as bobbin lace and needlelace.

Ribbon: a narrow, flat and flexible woven band that may range in appearance from simple and monochrome to being decorated with multi-coloured and repetitive (embroidered or woven) patterns. Ribbons may also be made out of velvet, satin or some other complex weave. They are usually between 0.3 and 10 cm in width. They are often used for tying or decorating another object, such as someone's hair or a box, or sewn down to a garment, accessory or furnishing, in the form of an edging or trimming. Also spelt: riband, ruban.

Rik-rak: a narrow, flat and semi-flexible band that is deliberately woven into a zig-zag. They are normally, but not inevitably, monochrome in appearance. Rik-rak is usually between 0.5 and 1.5 cm in width. This form of band was developed in the late nineteenth century, initially to finish seams and hems and later as a form of decoration, especially on garments. Also spelt: ric-rac, rickrack (USA).

Tape: a narrow, flat and flexible woven band that is normally monochrome in appearance and usually between 0.5 and 2.5 cm in width. Tapes are often used to finish an edge (sometimes on the inside), or as a couched line in some forms of applied decoration, such as passementerie.

Trim (also known as trimming): a decorative or plain band of some kind that is fastened in some manner along one or more edges of an object. Sometimes a trim is also used to decorate the main part of the object. The aim is to produce a contrasting effect, such as a fur trim on a leather ground, or an orange band on a blue ground material, etc. A braid, cord, ribbon or tape may be used as a trim/trimming.

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 5 August 2016).



Last modified on Tuesday, 09 August 2016 15:41
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