Tuesday, March 20, 2012

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V80: Petersham vs. Grosgrain Ribbon

What is the difference between Petersham and Grosgrain ribbon?

Both ribbons are ribbed and have a matte finish, but there is one really big difference, the edge finish.

Grosgrain ribbon has a sealed edge, and Petersham has a scalloped edge that is woven in one with the rest of the ribbon.
Grosgrain ribbon - see the "sealed" edge?

Petersham - see the difference on the edge from grosgrain?

That scalloped edge on Petersham allows this type of ribbon to curve in a similar way as bias tape, especially when shaped with steam, making it ideal for hatbands, but also the binding on stays and shoes.  Grosgrain will not curve like this, making it more suited to ribbon trims with mitered corners, decorative bows and ties, or flat applied trimming.

Here are some examples of Petersham used historically:



Stays, 1660-70, held in the V&A, bound with petersham
V&A shoes, 1730s, hand-sewn petersham binding
This hat from The Met uses petersham to bind the edge of the brim, while the band and bow are grosgrain with a pretty picot edge.
Here's a closeup - a bit hard to tell because the band is stitched right on the edge.
While grosgrain is available in every craft store in the universe, Petersham is harder to find, especially in narrower widths, as it is primarily used today for millinery.  Here are some resources:

  • The Sewing Place- petersham in many widths, lots of colors.  I just ordered from here and was happy with the quality and speed of delivery, even if the price was a little high.  I needed so little, it was worth it.
  • JKM Ribbon & Trim - lots of widths and colors, but only sold in spools, it appears.
  • Vogue Fabrics - limited colors and widths

Antique/vintage fairs are also a good place to go hunting for vintage millinery stuff, petersham ribbon included.  Remember! Petersham = curves; Grosgrain = straight.
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25 comments:

  1. I had no idea! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Never even knew there was such a thing! Thanks for the lesson!

    xoxo
    Solanah

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  3. Most excellent. I knew there was a difference, I just couldn't figure out what it was. I have bound a corset in petersham before and it was lovely to work with!

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    1. I'm surprised at just how awesome it is. Grosgrain, on the other hand = nightmare

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  4. Oooh thanks, always looking for a good petersham source. Although I will let anyone in the Wester Maryland area know about a good ribbon source for grosgrain. The Offray ribbon factory in Hagerstown, MD has an outlet store and it's AMAZING. Sadly they don't make petersham :(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/13/AR2006121300415.html

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  5. I've also found lots of varieties of colors and widths of petersham from Judith M Millinery Supply. I have a booklet of millinery things from the 20's with the most beautiful petersham bow and trimming designs. I'll have to dig it out and scan it for everyone!

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    1. You've answered my question: "Where oh where to find the stuff". I read about it in Alison Willoughby's book.

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  6. Thanks for the excellent post. Good to know!

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    1. I've also seen it called "millinery grosgrain." Makes me nervous to order something online unless I can absolutely see the edge of it, or it's labeled as petersham.

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  8. Thank you so much for the clarification! I saw some website equate the two recently and I felt that was incorrect. Now I understand why the one length I have works so beautifully.

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  9. For any San Francisco Bay Areans, particularly those in the East Bay: Piedmont Fabric has a surprising selection of nice petershams: many colors and widths.

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  10. I was at Judith M's a couple of weeks ago and it is a wonderful place. Petersham included!

    I appreciate all the resources. I' usually looking for something illusive.

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  11. Thanks for the info! I have always wondered about grosgrain ribbon, thanks for clearing it all up!

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  12. Another difference between MODERN petersham and grosgrain is that petersham is usually rayon and grosgrain is usually polyester, which contributes to the pliability/stiffness of each.

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    1. you can also get petersham in cotton :-)

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  13. Thank you! Have been wondering at this recently, it's like you read my mind!

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  14. Reblogged here: http://lauraaftermidnight.wordpress.com/ hope you don't mind!! You just say it more succinctly than I would!! xxx

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  15. Wonderful illustration of the difference between ribbons. You couldn't be more clear than that.

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  16. There's another discussion on petersham that brings to light the fact that petersham and MILLINERY grosgrain are also different and function differently:
    http://www.hatsupply.com/grosgrain_sweats.htm

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