Embellishing Soft Furnishings
Trimmings can completely change the look and personality of soft furnishings such as simple table cloths, napkins and fine muslin curtains. They need not be expensive and many can be created using everyday things from around the home. Search cabinets and drawers for balls of string and lengths of twine; make use of shells and pebbles; take a fresh look at a skein of raffia: it could look marvellous tied into a tassel to hold a napkin. Where possible, use natural materials, such as cotton, linen, silk and hessian (burlap); they have a wonderful tactile quality and look good in any situation.
The simplicity of the plain muslin cheesecloth curtain and bamboo poles has been complemented by the natural tassel. The effect is understated yet very eye-catching. Have fun with a classic white linen tablecloth by adding seashells, pretty stones and sticks, tied with natural string, to its edges.
The corners and edges of throws and cushions (pillows) are good places for embellishments, especially when the covering fabric is plain. These details maintain and enhance the style of the cushions, particularly if they are made from natural materials in a range of neutral colours. Make detailed decorations with traditional sewing and embroidery techniques, too, but interpret them in contemporary materials. The result is fully in keeping with today’s fashion for interior-design schemes based on natural materials.
Ribbons and Tassels
Ribbons come in a wonderful variety of colours, textures and widths. By tying a simple loop or how, you can give a new contrasting or complementary accent to soft furnishings. Soft, floppy, translucent organza ribbons create a frothy cloud when gathered in folds and bows, but look simple and elegant hung against the light of a window, where they lend an element of privacy and shield the eye from an unwelcome view without blocking the light at all. Rich silken and velvety ribbons, or rough linen and burlap, have completely different qualities.
Tassels, too, are flourishes: they bring a jaunty, nonchalant air to whatever they embellish. They come in a wide variety of materials and colours. The simplest can be homemade from household materials such as string, which is perfectly in keeping with decorated old terracotta pots. Made from natural materials, they bring a touch of style to design schemes based on neutral colours and natural fabrics; in rich colours and silken threads they can be opulent or restrained, depending on how they are combined. Rich red combined with a natural linen table napkin is a sunburst of bright colour that brightens but doesn’t disrupt the neutral scheme. A traditional white tassel combined with a brick-red throw quilted in a simple, modem style is a graphic and modern interpretation of a classic upholstery trimming.
You can use just about any material that catches your eye for trimmings. Although notions and interiors shops were always the traditional suppliers of trimmings such as tassels and ribbons.
Look beyond the expected sources for rich pickings. From garden centers to boating supply stores, the only rule in using materials for trimmings is to collect what appeals to you and let your imagination take over.