Lampshade / Trimmings

The trim or trimming (from the French passement, i.e. the action to pass, to put in order, to apply an ornament; the early French word for lace; from the Middle English “trimmen” and from the Old English “trymian”, i.e. to strengthen, to arrange, to firm) is a decorative accessory originally, and for thousands of years, made and applied by hand, the act of embellishing and garnishing something with by fastening, sewing or attaching elaborate objects, mainly using needle-and-thread-stitches, such as ribbons, lace, fabrics, buttons, bows, embroidery, ruffles, gimp threads, frills, tassels, fringes, gallons, pom-pom, braids, etc.  Its origin is lost in the mists of time:  it is impossible to define the beginnings of this art in a precise fashion.

Passamaneria 2Primitive human beings in the Paleolithic Era, after the art of making elaborate tattoos to express artistic and religious feelings and to show the first signs of social and tribal distinction, decorated themselves with passementerie.  The most diverse decorations were created according to incoming needs and rituals: animal skins cut into strips, bones, shells, fruits, plant fibres, stones, seeds, pearls and bells added to articles of dress, bracelets, amulets and, of course, to weapons.

Passamaneria 1The weaving of cloth from natural fibres had its first significant evidence, especially in the East and Middle East, around 5000-4000 B.C.  The trimming – and sewing which went together with this development – arrived in Europe with the Islāmic conquest.  The Silk Road brought Chinese embroidery techniques to Western Asia and Europe.  The industrial production of semi-finished trims began in England in 1748 and spread quickly in France and Germany.

Passamaneria 3In 1790 Thomas Saint patented the first sewing machine.  By the early 1840s, other machines began to appear.  The Industrial Revolution in the 19th century shifted the textiles production from the household to the mills; as well the introduction to creative woven trims emphasized the manufacture of passementerie to enhance the beauty of garments and home decor.

Passamaneria 4The passementier is someone who makes and sells trimmings.  The passementerie can be applied with sewing stitches or embroidery on a soft material, such as fabric, leather and felt; with specific glue or adhesives on hard and stiff material and divided into a) for clothing b ) for home decor.  The purposes for which it is used are mainly two: a) the structural and finishing one, to cover seams, to fix hems and edges and to prevent fabric fraying; b) the aesthetic and decorative one, to garnish and embellish.

Passamaneria 5If among primitive people the trims were a utilitarian and symbolic ornament, with the development and the social, artistic and technical progress of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, Indo-Chinese and Chinese civilizations since 3000 B.C., the use of silk prevailed over both for its glossy appearance and for its softness to the touch; it was reserved for an élite as sign of social distinction to assert the royal, military, ecclesiastical and aristocratic power.Passamaneria 6Next to the hemp (Cannabis Sativa), the jute and the ramie, the flax is the oldest of the vegetable fiber crops and derives from the stem plant of Linum Usitatissimum.  In Egypt, its use for the linen production went back to at least the Neolithic times; as well it was cultivated in ancient Babylon.  The Phoenicians turned the linen into a valuable and precious textile and traded it in the Mediterranean region and in the Middle East where their new spinning technique influenced the Greeks, the Etruscans and the Romans.  In the Middle Ages the Flanders region, with its humid climate, became the main flax cultivation centre in Europe.

Passamaneria 7One of the most important source for the study of classical trimmings and embroidery belongs to the history of art and fashion. There were artists, especially the portrait painters of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, who masterfully illustrated the most beautiful pieces of passementerie in their paintings.Trimmings 12The domain of flax remained unchallenged until the early nineteenth century when with the introduction to a new spinning technology for the sewing machines the cotton fibre, which was very appreciated by aristocracy and gentry in the past, became a mass-product among the bourgeois, the peasantry and the rising proletariat of the first Industrial Revolution.

Passamaneria 8Today synthetic fibers and plastic polymers have replaced the natural threads.  As a matter of fact, these are easier to spin into fabrics, to get worked to trimmings of every shape and colour: special, metallic, transparent etc.

According to the working process the passementerie divides itself into semi-finished (or braided) and finished: by the first, the chenille, the string (or lasso), the gimp thread; by the second, the latter, the frogs, the band, the bindellina, the edge, the cord, the sling, the bow, the fringe, the gallon, the flange and the pom-pom.  However, trimmings are buttons and lace, ribbons and sequins, braids and twill weaves, bias and canneté, too.

Passsamaneria 9 Passamaneria 10

As regards the manufacturing there are two fundamental differences which are defined by the diverse types of weaving: the trims manufactured by hand with looms and other specific devices; the industrial passementerie whose production runs by automatic machinery or semiautomatic looms (such as the braider and the crochet loom).  The difference is in the processing: the loom plaits the warp and weft at right angles; the braider has a single warp that weaves itself; both the crochet loom and the tripolino machine work out a particular weave and produce a chain-stitched yarn suitable for fringes and tassels.

Trimmings 11The lampshade upper, lower and rear seams.  The trimmings are an important step and should be chosen very carefully.  They decorate and garnish, finish and hide small imperfections of manual processing and give a special touch to the shade.  There are several methods to stick them: with the vinyl glue, or specific fabric glue, with the hot glue and with the double-sided adhesive tape, or the cotton tape.

By means of glue.  I choose the most suitable passementerie: cord or gimp thread, ribbon or frills, lace or embroidery, fringes or tassels, pom-pom or buttons, etc.  With a little flat brush I spread a fair glue measure along the upper or lower edges; I paste the passementerie and make it carefully fit to the shade’s frame; then I fasten binder clips or pegs to hold it down while the glue dries.  I assure that the glue is completely dry before going on.  I work in the same way to cover or embellish the vertical rear seam.  Patience and precision: it is important not to put the glue on the fabric because residues are difficult to wipe off!

lampada alcetto 3lampada polla bordo

By means of hot glue.  This is certainly the most suitable for a quick and resistant fixing.  It must be used with its specific gun, i.e. a practical tool that can be easily bought in DIY stores.  The glue dries almost immediately.  Residues can be taken away quite easily when they harden, but they can leave streaks on delicate fabrics (silk and tulle).

By means of double-sided adhesive tape or cotton tape.  I let adhere one side of the tape to the shade’s rim; the other side, to the passementerie.  I put it into the right place, perfectly taut and without wrinkles.  Or, I fold the cotton tape in half, take off the protective paper, attach the one half to the edge, wrap then the second half around the other side.  To the cotton tape I can apply trimmings either with glue or with sewing stitches or embroidery.  The most important advantage is that this method is simple and easy:  if necessary, the tape can be partially removed and repositioned; the adhesive does not leave permanent residues.

Where to buy.

1) Manufacturer’s on-line shops (please note that there is a large number of on-topic-websites on network).

2) Quilting and patchwork fairs and exhibitions (please enter on search engines and select; there are so many shows everywhere worldwide).

3) Quilting and patchwork and /or haberdashery shops & stores & outlets.

4) In Italy: Mercerie (nome vs. città – for example, Milano)  /  PagineGialle.it

(nome vs. città).paginegialle.it/(nome vs. regione)/(nome vs. città)/mercerie.html‎  – (for example = milano.paginegialle.it/lombardia/milano/mercerie.hmtl)

(Fonts : thanks to " Wikipedia" - "History of Fashion " and " Pinterest" )

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