Your Guide to Buying Fabric Trimmings

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Your Guide to Buying Fabric Trimmings

When people say fabric trimmings, they are referring to any number of decorative or functional trimmings that are applied to fabric. Trimmings can be applied to just about any type of fabric, including articles of clothing, upholstered furniture, draperies, and even tablecloths. Although trimmings are not entirely necessary on any fabric item, they can make an item look more finished and polished. Adding trimmings to any item, or swapping out existing trimmings, is a great way to reinvent an item on a limited budget.

Regardless of whether buyers are looking for clothing or upholstery trimmings, individuals who have never purchased or worked with fabric trimmings should keep several factors, such as the type and the quality, in mind when browsing and selecting trimmings. Knowing the ins and outs of shopping for fabric trimmings as well as how to spot quality trimmings can mean the difference between wasting money and purchasing the perfect trim for any project.

Brief History of Fabric Trimmings

Prior to the industrial revolution, most fabric trimmings were made by hand. Garments that featured trimmings, whether ornate or simple, were time consuming to make and, as such, were too expensive to be worn by anyone outside of the upper class. With the invention of the sewing machine and the development of machine made trims, more people could afford garments with trimmings on them.

Historically speaking, there are certain styles of trimmings that are associated with different time periods. While this is not of the utmost importance in today's fashion and home décor, it is important for individuals who are interested in making historically accurate recreations. These individuals may want to do some research and speak with experts of that time period before making any purchasing decisions regarding trimmings.

Types of Fabric Trimmings

When shopping for fabric trimmings, prospective buyers can find a wide range of styles and sizes in just about every colour imaginable. There are two main ways to approach shopping for fabric trimmings: Individuals can begin by choosing the trim colour they would like or by picking the style of trim they want and then decide on the appropriate colour. As long as the individual is happy with the end result, there is really not right or wrong way to shop for or use fabric trimmings.

Flat Trimmings

The term flat trimmings applies to all trimmings that are flat, meaning they do not have a profile. Included in this category are the various types of tapes, including bias tape, ribbon, and denim trimmings. Flat trimmings can be applied in two different ways to provide style and flair to any fabric. First, they can be folded around the edges of a garment to create a decorative edging, or they can be applied on the fabric in any position to create a design, shape, or pattern.


Fringe trimmings are typically applied along the edge of an item or very close to the edge. A fringe trimming consists of hundreds of threads that are left loose and hanging down. Some fringe styles feature looped threads, while others have many loose threads. Individuals considering using fringe trimmings should keep in mind that looped fringe can get caught on stuff, and both styles of fringe have the potential to lose threads over time. This could result in the item looking worn or shoddy unless the fringe is periodically replaced.

Fur or Feathers

There is a wide range of fur and feather trimmings currently available. Many fur and faux fur trimmings are strips of fur that can be attached to the edges of fabric or just about anywhere else. Feather trims can resemble a feather boa, or it can be more like a feather fringe where the features hang down off the trim. When working with feather trimmings, it is important for prospective buyers to keep in mind that the trimmings may shed feathers, especially if the trimming is placed in an area that receives extensive wear and tear.

Gimp Braid

Gimp braid is an incredibly versatile category of fabric trimmings. The category consists of a multitude of braided and knotted gimp trimmings that are comprised of cord. The cord is twisted, braided, or tied into a variety of decorative patterns, so prospective buyers are sure to find the perfect gimp braid trimming to accent any project. Gimp braid is typically made of synthetic materials, such as rayon, or cotton, which means it can be dyed to just about any colour. Individuals looking for a fancier option can even find metallic and pearlescent gimp braid trimmings.

Lace or Ruffles

Lace is also a popular option when selecting trimmings for fabric. Lace can be attached to a fabric around the edges, it can be sewn or glued to the underside of a piece of fabric to extend the length, or it can be attached anywhere else on the garment to create stripes or patterns.

Typically, lace trimmings are available in only a few colours, including white and black, so prospective buyers should keep this in mind if they want to use lace trimmings. It may be possible to dye white or other light-coloured lace trimmings though the colour may not be as exact as some users would like it to be. Individuals interested in dying lace should confirm that the lace they are considering purchasing can be dyed.

Ruffles are a popular option on baby clothes for girls as well as pillows and other decorative accessories. Individuals can use ruffles along the edges of an item, or they can use several rows of them together to create a different loop.

Rick Rack

Rick rack, sometimes also spelled ric rac, is a purely decorative trim that features a zigzag pattern. It is a flat trim that is made of woven fibres, usually cotton or polyester, and is available in a wide range of colours and thicknesses. Rick rack rose to popularity during the 1970s though it is most often used today.


While tassels themselves are not typically used as trimming, they may be used instead of or along with trimmings to create a more ornate look. Tassels are groups of loose threads or thread loops gathered together. There is usually a decorative cap on the top of the tassel to hide the tops of the loose ends. Some individuals like the look of tassels on the corners of a square or rectangular pillow or on other decorative items; however, tassels are typically not used on clothing because they are a bit bulky and heavier than other trimmings.

Determining Fabric Trimming Quality

When shopping for fabric trimmings, prospective buyers should be sure to assess the quality of the trimming and make sure it is durable enough to withstand the rigours it is be exposed to. For example, when choosing trimming for an article of clothing that may be worn frequently, individuals should opt for a sturdy trimming that can withstand washing and wearing. Those looking for trimmings for pillows and other decorative items can opt for a more ornate, delicate trimming because these items are typically spot-cleaned or hand-washed and do not experience excessive wear and tear.

While it would be preferable to see and feel a fabric trimming to determine its quality before purchasing, this is not always possible. Individuals who want to shop online for fabric trimmings should purchase from reputable sellers and should stick to brands that they have used before so they know the type of quality they can expect from that brand. If an individual is considering purchasing a large quantity of a trimming from a manufacturer he or she has never used, he or she may want to request a sample or purchase a small amount first to confirm the quality before making such a large purchase.

Fabric Trimming Content

The fabric trimming fibre content is another important factor for individuals to consider before making a purchasing decision as it can affect a trimming's performance and how well it wears. For example, silk is beautiful and can be used to make exquisite trimmings; however, these trimmings tend to fall apart or at the very least start looking very worn with frequent washing and wearing.

Individuals should choose more delicate trims for items that are not washed or used frequently to avoid this problem. Cottons and synthetic fibres, on the other hand, are quite durable and can also be used to make beautiful trimmings, making them ideal for a wide range of applications. The chart below details various fibres and their applications.

Type of Fibre

Suitable Applications

Synthetics (rayon, polyester, etc.)

Everyday use and more delicate applications


Everyday use and more delicate applications


Delicate applications


When considering adding trimmings to clothing, individuals should also consider the care instructions of both the fabric and the trimming. Adding a dry clean only trimming to a fabric that is machine washable turns the garment from a machine washable item to a dry clean only item. While users could attempt to machine wash these items, there is a good possibility that the trimming may not be able to stand up to the machine washing.

Shopping for Fabric Trimmings

Prospective buyers should be able to find at least a moderate selection of fabric trimmings for sale at local fabric and craft stores though if they are looking for a specific colour and style, they may need to do a little shopping to find the perfect trimming.

Another option for people who love to incorporate trimmings into their clothing is to shop at second-hand stores for vintage trimmings that can be repurposed, although when shopping this way, buyers are limited to the amount of trimming already on the garment or item. To get the best possible selection, prospective buyers should look to the Internet for fabric trimmings, especially eBay. With thousands of sellers offering just about everything under the sun, prospective buyers are sure to find a wide selection of fabric trimmings on the site.

Buying Fabric Trimmings on eBay

If you want to browse the listings currently available on eBay for fabric trimmings, go to the site's homepage and type your search phrase into the box. Once the search results load, you can browse through the available trimmings, or you can narrow down the search results using the filters on the page. If you are looking for a specific type of trimming, you may want to conduct a keyword search for the type of trimming. This allows you to easily narrow down your results so you are only seeing the type of trimming you are interested in. For example, if you want fringe trimming, search for fringe so you do not see trimmings that are not classified as fringe.

Before making a purchasing decision, prospective buyers should read through the listings carefully to determine the trimming's manufacturer and how much of the trimming the seller has available. Prospective buyers should also review the seller's return policy to determine whether the trimming can be returned if it not as it was described or the buyer is otherwise unsatisfied with it.


Adding a fabric trimming to a garment or decorative object can take the item from looking unfinished to complete and can even transform an older item into a more trendy piece without spending a fortune. Prospective buyers can find trims in just about every shape, style, and colour, so they should have no problem finding the perfect fabric trimming for every occasion.

Deciding between a fun, flirty fabric trimming, and a more practical style may be difficult for some individuals; however, prospective buyers should keep how the item is to be used in mind when making this decision. Feather boas and fringe can be extremely fun, but it does not wash well and should really be used sparingly on clothing that needs to be washed regularly.

Another option for working with these delicate trimmings is designing the garment so that the trimming can be removed. This way, individuals can remove the trimming, wash the garment, and then put the trimming back in place. Knowing the ins and outs of purchasing fabric trimmings ensures that prospective buyers find the perfect trimmings on eBay.

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