Choosing Garment Trims

Posted by Deirdre Quirk on Sep 25th 2019

The advice below is from The Tunic Bible by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr—but we think that the trimming advice is applicable to any garment, not just tunics! P.S. Scroll to the bottom of the post for a giveaway. 

Consider tunic embellishments as frosting on the cake. Ribbons and trim add richness and variety, which yield the sought-after ready-to-wear look. Simple trims bring extraordinary beauty through added dimension. Our favorite trims include twill tape, woven ribbon, open cording, beaded appliqués, and novelty offerings. Tunic plackets are the ideal spot to showcase embroidered custom design, while monograms look fabulous in a tucked-away spot. Please note that all trims should be laundered or steam pressed before application to prevent shrinkage.

Twill Tape

Twill tape is readily available in a multitude of colors. It is a matte-finished, flat-woven ribbon usually made of cotton or polyester (and occasionally of linen) in varying widths and thicknesses. Twill tape can’t be beat for flexibility and ease when mitering corners around plackets and side-seam slits. Due to its looser weave, twill tape is extremely forgiving and easy to shape around those tricky turns. A sporty row or two of twill tape against a contrasting solid-color fabric is always effective. Try combining different widths for a striking visual impact. You can find this trim decorating the edges of Sail to Sable tunics, one of our favorite ready-to-wear lines.

Petersham Ribbon

Rayon or cotton petersham is the clear winner in the ribbon department. Its pliable picot scalloped edge allows it to be easily steamed around neckline curves. Petersham’s lovely sheen also makes an especially striking counterpoint to linen. Do not confuse petersham with polyester grosgrain ribbon, which has a sealed or bonded edge. Both petersham and grosgrain are ribbed, but that is where the similarities end. Petersham is sold in many widths and shades.

Woven Jacquard Trims

Jacquard trims feature intricately woven embroidered designs and lend textural elegance to your tunic, which imparts a luxurious feel. Offered in a vast array of patterns, trims loomed on jacquard weaving machines produce a product that has complex definition. Jacquard trims can be composed of cotton, silk, metallic fibers, wool, acetate, and rayon. Scout estate sales and flea markets for exquisite vintage and novelty trims and ribbons. Swiss- and French-made jacquards are of the finest quality. These trims are best for straight runs because they accommodate folded angles well. They are also a Tory Burch favorite.

Beaded Trim and Appliqués

Bring on the bling! Beads, crystals, pearls, and sequins will transform your tunic into ornate evening and special-occasion wear. Premade jeweled appliqués may be applied to plackets with hand stitching or clear permanent fabric glue. Think Bollywood!

Rickrack and Mini Pom-Poms

These playful trims, once thought to be reserved exclusively for children’s wear, are fun to work with and add a whimsical vibe to beach cover-ups, casual summer tunics, and sleepwear.

Self-Made Bias Trim

We love using self-made bias trim. The Clover Press Perfect Hot Hemmer is the secret to making sharp-edged bias tape quickly with precise results. Size the trim however you like and then use it wherever you want!

Get more fantastic garment-sewing advice, along with the only tunic pattern you'll ever need, in The Tunic Bible. Giveaway now closed.

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