Discovering Curtain and Upholstery Trimmings

Shopping for that ideal curtain or upholstery fabric can dominate your thinking, and considering trimmings may fall by the wayside. Yet, trimmings can really help you tie the whole design scheme together. Adding quality tape, rope, or fringe can really make or break a design. 

Knowing a bit more about the different trimmings can help your search for the best trimmings for your design project. From ropes, cords, and tassels to piping, pom-poms, and embroidered designs, the world of trimmings is vast!

Types of Trimmings for Different Design Projects

Each type of trimming has its own use and visual feel. Dangly baubles will create a different look to a subdued tape for edging. No matter the type of trimming you choose, it will fall into one of these categories:

Cords and Ropes

There are many different cords and rope designs available today. Choose from straight tape and rope options that are easy to sew onto curtains, pillows, and upholstery designs to twisted ropes that require clever tailoring to securely attach them to your ideal design. 

Cords can add weight to curtains, improving their draping capacity, while the addition of cords to upholstery can aid in delineating design lines on wingbacks and ottomans. 

Available in all the colors of the rainbow from plain to multicolored, cords and taped ropes are ideal for an industrious home project as they are easy to sew onto your design. You will only require a sewing machine, some clothes pins, and a little patience.

Cords can be quite eye-catching, such as with this gorgeous tri-colored aqua inspired design. As a bonus, if you are unsure of the color scheme of your new design, you can start with the trimmings and base the rest of the color pallet on what excellent designers have already created for you. 

Using the above trim, consider a study with chocolate drapery, teal green sheers, bronze upholstery, or leather upholstery in a burnished finish. Add in a few matching striped pillows and you have a beautiful room happening right before your eyes. 


  • Cords are strong and durable
  • With tape attachments, these sew on easily


  • If not correctly sealed, cords can fray at their ends
  • With sun exposure, cords can fade


If you are more exotic-minded, then fringes are the way to go. Available in a range of colors, exciting decorations, and intricate cut-away patterns, fringes add vibrant texture to any project. 

Apply fringes to curtaining, tie-backs, pillows, and even to furniture as Art Deco has made a comeback in design circles. If you have access to an industrial sewing machine, you can even update an existing rug with a fringed edge to match your new design scheme. 

Fringes are available in a range of designs from simple single-strand fringes to twirled, looped, twisted, and combination fringes. Single-strand fringes are more pet and child-friendly as they are less likely to get stuck on claws or little fingers. 

Sewing on a fringe can be challenging if you don’t have the right sewing machine at home, and an industrial sewing machine goes a long way to achieving the look painlessly. The alternative is to sew more bulky fringes by hand. 

Ouch! But so worth it. 


  • Fringes are relatively easy to sew onto fabric
  • They add both softness and shape


  • Fringes can become frayed and ruffled in high traffic areas
  • Fringes can collect dust and hair and require special care when washing


For a robust finish, you can opt for a tape, which is easy to sew on, doesn’t create a surface that can catch on things, and remains comfortable when used on upholstery. Tapes are available in many different widths, designs, and textures. Be sure to choose a tape that is pre-shrunk to avoid mishaps when you need to launder your curtains or pillow covers. 

A tape with a strong geometric design such as this can add some pizzazz to any design. Add it as trim to curtains, tie-backs, pillow edges, or even as detail on upholstery. The options are endless. 


  • Taping is easy to sew on
  • Broader tapes can be stuffed and padded for extra embellishment 


  • Tape can shrink if the material backing is poor quality
  • Can be heat sensitive so beware using in areas with high sun


If you want that special edging to the light coming in your window, then tassels are the ideal addition to your curtains, window sash, or valance. Tassels come in a range of lengths and designs. Typically, there are individual tassels on the taped border, or you can opt for single giant tassels for addition to a tie-back. 

Fringes and tassels may seem the same, but tassels will have unique tied “bundles” that easily set them apart. 


  • With a taped border, tassels are easy to sew on
  • There are a whole range of colors and tassel sizes available 


  • Poor quality yarns can fray
  • Tassels can become disheveled with excessive touching

Combination Trimmings

Combination trimming is a combination that may feature both cords and tassels or even the addition of beads to a taped border. These are exciting trimmings to use, but keep in mind, they may be more fragile than more traditional trimmings. 

Combination trimmings can really offer the best of all worlds, adding beading, taping, embroidery, and even tassels to your design. 


  • Colorful and unique designs
  • Easily sewn on


  • Can be fragile
  • Combination materials may make care complicated

Lace Trim

While not as popular in the world of interior design as the other types of trimmings, lace trim is exotic, timeless, and ideal for windows that receive glorious light. Adding some lace trim to a sheer curtain or valance can really make a window treatment pop. Today, you can invest in hand-embroidered lace, or you can opt for laser-cut lace trimmings. 


  • Lace is fashionable
  • Adding lace introduces and frames the light 


  • Lace can easily become damaged when washing the curtains
  • In furniture, it is impractical as repeated use of the furniture can lead to lace fraying

These lace trimmed curtains are a real feast for the eye. Adding lace trim to sheer curtains works really well to demarcate space and frame light.

The Final Trim

Shopping for trimmings is a whole lot of fun, but you can easily become like Alice in Wonderland and not know how to find your way back. The best advice is to shop by color, then finalize according to the type of trimming you like or that will work well in your room and with your lifestyle. 

Happy trimming!

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