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30-Minutes with Workroom Tech: Episode Eight / Applying Trims

In episode 8 of the Sew Much More Podcast: 30-Minutes with Workroom Tech (air date January 23, 2019), host Ceil DiGuglielmo and Susan Woodcock discuss trims, and how to apply trim to your drapery and soft furnishing projects.

You can listen to the podcast here: 30-Minutes with Workroom Tech Episode Eight

Trims are the icing on the cake. It is amazing how much of an impact trims can make. Something as simple as an inset ribbon, can be quite beautiful.

There are many types of trim. In this podcast the topic is "purchased trim", and not trim made from fabric. Susan categorizes trim into three groups: fringe, tapes, and cording.

Example of coordinating tassel fringe, tape and twist cord

Fringe includes tassel trim with free-hanging tassels, beads, looped yarns, cut yarns or pompom’s. There is also bullion fringe, which has a length of twisted yarn falling from the tape. An example of a bullion fringe is pictured below (Samuel & Sons)

bullion fringe from Samuel and Sons

Tapes are flat, and include everything from grosgrain ribbon to gimp braid and embroidered or woven banding. The Greek key design is a popular style. Current trends are to have wide tapes on the leading edge of draperies.

Cording includes twist cord with or without a lip, and braided cord.

Applying trims

As shared so many times on the podcast… there are at least three "right ways"...

1. Hand sewing

2. Machine sewing

3. Using adhesives like glue, fusible tapes, double-sided tapes and hot-melt glue.

Hand Sewing


It’s gentle, intimate and careful.

The trim can be easily removed without damaging the fabric or trim.

It doesn’t pull or take up.

Requires minimal tools and supplies. (Susan recommends John James Long Darners #7 and Coats Hand Quilting thread, or Coats Terko Satin thread for hand sewing trims).


It takes longer (charge accordingly)

It is not sturdy enough for a high use item like pillows or cushions.

The application might be too loose or difficult to apply for upholstery.

Hand sewing an open weave tape to a drapery.

Machine Sewing


The trim can be removed without too much damage to the fabric or trim.

It lays flat.

It’s durable.

Requires only thread and a sewing machine.

It’s faster than hand sewing.


The trim can take up, move, shift or grow when sewing. That’s a biggie.

You can see machine stitching.

One more detail, which is not a bad thing… but something to remember, is that you will need to pre-plan and sew before adding linings, or backs. It’s not something you can decide to do at the last minute.


Susan shared that she is known for hand sewing, and really likes that method but that "adhesives can be the best solution for some projects".


Fast and efficient.

Wet fabric glues seep into the fibers for a great bond.

Fusible tapes allow you to place the trim exactly where it needs to be with great accuracy.

Glues and fusible products sold by our industry suppliers are UV stable.

Hot melt glue works well for adding double welt or gimp braid to cover staples or cut edges on upholstery projects.

There is no visible stitching.

Fabric glue is used to attach fringe


Once it’s stuck you’re outta luck! It’s difficult to remove especially after the adhesive has cured. Removing the trim can damage the fabric or trim.

Fusible tapes require heat and steam, which might not work with some fabrics.

Light shining through the trim could show the fusible tape, depending on the fabric and product used.

Fabrics with finishes added to repel moisture and stains might also repel adhesives.

There is the added expense of keeping adhesive products in stock. The tapes are costly, and although you save time, you will need to invest in consumable products.

Deciding Which Method to Use

It depends on the project, the budget, and the expectations of the client. For example; some designers might specify hand-sewn trims, while others might not give any direction at all. Susan includes this in the quoting phase. "I rarely decide the application method on the fly".

Here are the methods that Susan uses for her workroom projects.

Sewing is the Standard

Susan prefers hand sewing for fringe on custom draperies or valances. Hand sewn trim is applied after the window treatment is finished. Sometimes trims are hand sewn on pillows, especially if it's a tassel trim with a tape that can't be sewn in the seam by machine.

For flat tapes, Susan will often machine sew. "If the trim is inset on pillows, along the bottom of a dust ruffle or on a working Roman shade I will most likely machine stitch. It just depends on the trim".

Creating a mitered corner

1. With a continuous piece of tape trim, pin at a right angle and create the mitered corner. Manipulate the extra trim so it is equally flattened under the corner. Press and hand sew the mitered corner using a ladder stitch.

mitered banding with ladder stitch

2. When using two separate pieces of trim, overlap at the corner and trim off to leave enough trim to fold under. Tuck the cut edges under, pin and sew or glue the mitered corner. Two pieces of trim are often used when matching the design at the corner.

mitered trim with two pieces meeting at the corner

Quick and Easy - Adhesives

Wet glue like Rowley Company's Fringe Adhesive, or Textol Industries, Inc., Tack-It are a great solution for many trims. Susan recommends testing first to make sure it doesn't bleed through. Susan likes to use a fabric glue for glue basting, to temporarily hold trims in place until they are machine sewn. This omits pins and keeps the trim from shifting.

For cornice boards or covering staples with gimp braid or double welt, Susan relies on using the glue gun and hot melt glue sticks.

Double-sided, sticky tapes, like Jewel Tape from are the best options for difficult trims such as leather, flat tapes with beading or thick embroidery, or other finishes that can't be applied any other way. The photo and video below show a combination of Jewel tape and machine sewing to apply a difficult trim. A wet glue could not be used for "glue basting" because of the paper wouldn't stick.

Using Jewel tape to attach a heavy, embroidered trim

Applying Decorative Cord

Susan and Ceil both agree, the “dreaded twist cord” is always a challenge! Susan suggests sewing into the cord, and not next to it... "use a cording foot that is slightly smaller than the cord. You will actually ride up on the cord, and the foot will not be hitting the feed dogs. You will chomp into cord". She encourages interior designers to use a smaller diameter twist cord when possible.

For joining decorative twist cord together, like on a pillow, you can unwrap the individual cords and weave them together at the join. Plan to join this style of trim on the side of a pillow and not the bottom, if you are inserting a zipper.

how to join twist cord

If it's a braided cord or a style with a covered core, and you can’t untwist the cord, you have to be creative with the join. One option is to remove the core material, and overlap the ends. In the photos below you can see the inner cord has been removed so that the cord can be flattened out, overlapped (at an angle), stitched and then the cord is turned straight and sewn along the edge.

joining a braided cord by overlapping

With some cords, you might need to butt the two ends together, add glue to keep them from fraying and wrap a matching piece of fabric around the join. The example below is from Nancy Letts, Pine House Drapery. Nancy teaches the Pillows & Cushions Class at Workroom Tech.

Finishing a braided cord by wrapping the join, where the trim butts together with fabric.

Trims are an important element in interior design and truly do make custom... CUSTOM! Experiment with different application methods and don't forget that sometimes you need to combine methods to get the best end results.

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