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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