Trim, Glorious Trim!

One of the distinctive features of textiles in the Mediterranean is the lavish use of trims, both in liturgical garments and household textiles. Greek Orthodox vestments are finished in galloon ("trim" in Greek), a type of heavy woven metallic trim that is a major aesthetic element in church vestments. A restrained galloon with simple accent stripes might act as a "frame" for a liturgical brocade, putting the emphasis on the brocade motif, whereas a more complex galloon with vinework or crosses works with an intricate brocade, creating layers of beauty, and echoing design elements or hues to create a visual banquet of color, texture, and motif.

In Greek folk embroidery trims are commonly used to finish the raw edges of a hand embroidered textile. The most common styles tend to be passmenterie-type trims and braids, which are typically made of rayon or polyester, but sometimes metallic trims and fringes (such as heavy bullion fringe) are also used and the tarnishing that develops with age provides a unique patina to a finished embroidery. There's even a type of Greek embroidery work called "lasse" ("lace" in Greek) which is similar to needleweaving but worked entirely with metallic braids and cords.

I get to work with a lot of trims--mostly galloons--in my work as a Greek Orthodox church tailor and the wall of trims shown in the photo above is the first thing I see when I come into the workshop each day. These are like the paints in my textile paintbox and I love how their color or design can make or break a brocade. Pair a galloon with interlocking circles with a simple brocade and the finished result is stunning yet restrained. Likewise, choose a galloon with a brassy hue and it can look cheap and costume-ish against even the most beautiful of brocades. There's an art to combining the right trim with the right textile and it's always intriguing to see which pairings work and which clash. I love when I try out numerous galloons against a new brocade and discover a harmonious trim-and-brocade pairing--it feels as if the gold threads and accent colors and intricate motifs are singing together in beautiful harmony.

If you're looking to add another layer to your finished embroidery, consider trims: you can take a small embroidery, frame it with some beautiful trim, and turn it into a cushion cover with a beautiful focal point. It's a great way to turn a small embroidery into something a bit grander. Or, use trims to finish the ends (or sides) of a table runner to add a layer of interest or texture. Metallic trims can be really lovely as they catch the light in interesting ways when embroideries are displayed on tables or near windows and I'm continually fascinated to notice how these kind of trims change through the day and the season depending on what kind of light falls upon them.

Next time you're looking for an interesting way to finish your embroidery, consider trims!

#embroidery #crossstitch #folkembroidery #passmenterie #galloon

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