Working with Petersham Ribbon

Petersham Ribbon
Petersham ribbon on Amazon.

Petersham ribbon, also known as Petersham grosgrain, Petersham face or simply Petersham, is a versatile and flexible type of ribbon known for its ability to shape around curves and maintain a smooth appearance.

Petersham is often used in millinery to create hat bands or hat trims, particularly for wide-brimmed hats, as it gives structure and allows the ribbon to curve seamlessly along the shape of the hat . It is also used in clothing manufacturing, particularly in belts, belt loops, and as a stabilizing tape in corsets and bodices. Its flexibility and ability to take shape make it an excellent choice for these purposes. Petersham ribbon is also popular in various craft projects, including embellishing accessories, wrapping gifts and creating decorative elements in home decor.

Known for its unique characteristics and versatility, Petersham tape is thick, stiff and flexible and is typically made from cotton, viscose, a cotton/rayon or acetate blend, or even acetate or 100% rayon. Some variations may even use silk. It has a slightly ribbed texture and a flexible, malleable nature, making it popular for creating decorative accents and embellishments. The ribbed texture is achieved through a weaving technique that creates horizontal ribs on the surface of the ribbon.

Where does the name come from? It depends who you ask! One version has it that Petersham got its name from the 18th century English viscount Viscount Petersham, who invented an overcoat and breeches made of a special thick woolen fabric with a round surface. The second version is that the original Petersham was made by a company called Panda in the town of Petersham.

Petersham is often compared to grosgrain ribbon because of their similar appearance, but they have distinct differences:

  • Petersham has a scalloped edge. Grosgrain has a straight edge.
  • Petersham is generally softer and more flexible, making it easier to work with when shaping it around curves.
  • Petersham has a crunchy feel and may become stiffer when exposed to moisture or heat.

One of the added features of Petersham is its ability to shape and mold curves and corners without creasing or wrinkling. It is woven in such a way that when steamed it will conform and support the curve of the piece it is applied to. This property makes it ideal for headbands, belts and other applications where the ribbon must maintain a smooth, even appearance when wrapped around irregular shapes. When used for hat bands, Petersham ribbon helps create a structured, tailored look.

Another notable feature of Petersham ribbon is its soft, drapey quality. It has a smoother, more supple feel than standard grosgrain ribbon, which tends to be stiffer. This flexibility allows for a greater range of uses, including clothing trims, bows, scarves and belts. It can also be used for crafts such as gift wrapping, hair accessories and DIY projects.

Petersham ribbon is available in a variety of widths, colors and patterns, providing endless possibilities for creative expression. It is found in solid colors, as well as prints, stripes and other patterns. The edges of Petersham ribbon are usually cut with a hot knife or treated to prevent fraying.

Tips for working with Petersham

  1. Cut: Petersham ribbon has a scalloped edge and identical front and back, so you don't have to worry about which side is facing up when cutting. Use sharp fabric scissors to cut the ribbon to the desired length. Consider cutting diagonally to avoid fraying.
  2. Formatting: The main characteristic of Petersham tape is its flexibility and ability to take shape. To shape the tape around curves or elbows, use steam from an iron or steamer. Hold the ribbon over the steam for a few seconds and, while it is still warm and pliable, gently shape it into the desired curve. You can use pins to hold the shape in place until it cools and holds its shape.
  3. As an attachment : Petersham ribbon is usually sewn onto fabric or hats. When sewing, it is best to use a needle and thread of the same color as the ribbon. Since Petersham ribbon is slightly thicker than regular ribbon, you may need a larger needle or one designed for thick fabrics. Sew along the edge of the ribbon, using small, discreet stitches.
  4. Hat bands: To use Petersham ribbon as a hat band, measure the circumference of the crown of the hat and cut the ribbon accordingly, leaving extra length for overlap. Shape the ribbon to match the curve of the crown of the hat using steam. Sew the ends together to form a loop, then sew the loop to the inside of the crown of the hat.
  5. Belts and clothing trims: Petersham ribbon can be used as a belt in skirts or pants. Measure your waist and cut the ribbon to the desired length. Shape the ribbon to fit your waist using steam, then sew it in place. You can also use Petersham ribbon as a decorative trim on clothing, especially around the neckline or sleeve edges.
  6. Crafts and Embellishments: For craft projects, you can use Petersham ribbon to embellish accessories like headbands, bags or shoes. It can also be used in home decor projects to add a decorative touch to pillows, lampshades, etc.

Remember, practice makes perfect, so don't get discouraged if it takes a few tries to get the shaping and sewing perfect. Once you become comfortable with Petersham ribbon, you will find that it is a versatile and elegant addition to your designs.

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