Types of 19th Century Ribbons

Chine  – A fancy ribbon where figures are painted or printed on the warp while it is on the ribbon.

Clouding –  A coloring technique used to vary the color in a ribbon. This coloring technique takes place at the thread dying stage. “The silk, already warped, is tied up and wound closely round with packthread at regular intervals of more or less than an inch, so that the intermediate spaces only are penetrated by the dye.”

Damask –  Ribbons with woven designs. These can be geometrical or floral frequently using combinations of leaves, sprigs and flowers. “In superior French ribbons groups and wreathes of flowers are executed with the richness and variety of hand-embroidery. The French are continually introducing novelties in colouring and in texture. In one of recent appearance the ribbon is laid over with a slight covering like crape, by means of a warp of hard-silk woven in loosely over the other; in another ribbon is made by stamping to assume the appearance of lace.”

Double Lisse – Double warp ribbons. These were once considered the best ribbon. Made in Tours, France in the 1700s. (The Penny Encylcopedia )

Ferrets – Ribbons which are coarse and narrow, shot with cotton. They are used for shoe-strings and bindings.

Floret Gauzes and Taffeties – Light ribbons made with organzine warp and marabout weft. In other words, the warp of a sarsenet ribbon and the weft of a gauze ribbon.

Garnitures – “French fancy ribbons are generally made and sold in garnitures, that is a broad and narrow piece taken together of the same pattern.” (The Penny Encyclopedia)

Galloons and Doubles  – Ribbons which are strong and thick. These were used for bindings and shoe strings. Galloons are the narrower ribbons. Doubles are the broader ribbons.

Gauze – Transparent ribbons made with a fine hard-twisted silk thread called marabout woven in a plain weave. Finer gauzes have over 80 threads per inch. “The plain gauze ribbons made at Coventry called China gauzes are chiefly those used for mourning – white, black and lavender, with satin or ground stripes.” (see http://www.met.org # C.I.38.23.167)

Grogram – “By grogram (French gros-grains) is meant a variation of the texture, caused by the warp-threads passing over two of the shoots at once, taking up one only: this often finishes the edges of a ribbon.” 1844, The Penny Cyclopaedia.

Loves – A gauze like ribbon made organzine and hard dyed weft. These are considered an inferior gauze.

Lutestring –  Plain weave ribbons with regular alteration of warp and weft. Generally wider than 12d (1 7/12 inches ) and “in general of stouter make.” These are the most common ribbons found

Moiré   – A coloring technique more often seen on gros grain ribbons. This is the French term for clouded or watered silks. “The goods are woven in what the Lyons weaves call en jumelle, that is, in double widths, two pieces being woven together. This is necessary in order to obtain the bold waterings or moirage, which process depends not only on the quality of the silk, but greatly in the way in which they are folded when subjected to the enormous pressure in watering. When the pieces are being folded, care is taken that the grains of one piece shall fall into the cavities of the other, and vice versa, for if they ride one across the other the watering will be spoiled… After being properly folded the silk to be moiré d is wetted slightly, and then submitted to an enormous pressure, generally in hydraulic machine, The pressure (generally from 80 to 100 tons per piece) applied on the material being uneven, the grain is flattened in the parts desired and the result resembles waves, or moisture drawn into curious lines..” (Cole, George S.. A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods and History of Silk, Cotton, Linen, Wool and other Fibrous Substances. Chicago: W. B. Conney,1892)

Moiré  Antique or Long Moiré  ­– A coloring technique using an engraved brass roller paired with a plain surface. The ribbon is passed under the engraved roller under great pressure. The coloring is “more scattered, longer and in finer, but not less effective, lines” than other moiré techniques. (Cole, George S.. A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods and History of Silk, Cotton, Linen, Wool and other Fibrous Substances. Chicago: W. B. Conney,1892)Purl or Pearl Edge –  A type of ribbon edge of small, fine loops. This effect is created by weaving the edge over horse-hairs which are later removed.

Petershams or Pads – Stout thick ribbons used for the waist. Possibly derived from the French padou “a course ribbon used by tailors, made of linen and silk, often stiffened by gum”

Picot  – A type of edge of a ribbon comprised of small loops forming the ornament. The picot edge is larger and thicker than a purl edge. The edge may also have small stitches of knots. (Cole, George S.. A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods and History of Silk, Cotton, Linen, Wool and other Fibrous Substances. Chicago: W. B. Conney,1892)

Ruban Anglois – Type of ribbon with fine quality organzine warp and China shoot. They were light in texture. (The Penny Encyclopedia)

Sarsenet –  Plain weave ribbons with regular alteration of warp and weft. Generally wider than 12d (1 7/12 inches ) and “in general of stouter make.” These are the most common ribbons found.

Satin – Ribbons with a glossy appearance. The warp is primarily seen from the surface as it passes over the weft. The type of satin is determined by the number of times the shoot/weft crosses the warp, such as in 5-lisse satin the warp is crossed once every 5 times. “The French satins are lighter in make than the English, but they have a peculiar richness and lustre, owing to their superior silk. French ribbons in general have less weight of silk than the English.”

Scallops – A type of ribbon edge with a scalloped edge. “. The shoot in this case stops short of the edge of the ribbon, catching in an additional thread of silk, sometimes of a different colour, which it draws in in its place, and which is delivered from a bobbin at the back of the loom, and is in a manner darned into the ground of the ribbon.”

Shot  – A ribbon with variation in colouring where the warp and weft are different colors.

Taffetas – A plain weave ribbon with about 51 threads per inch.

Velveteen – A later 19th century ribbon which technically is not a ribbon as it does not have two salvage edges. Velveteen ribbons are cut in strips from velveteen yardage. These “ribbons” are sized to prevent raveling. (Cole, George S.. A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods and History of Silk, Cotton, Linen, Wool and other Fibrous Substances. Chicago: W. B. Conney,1892)

Watered  or Watering  – A coloring technique where a pair of woven ribbons is passed between two rollers. One of the rollers is heated creating irregular pressure as the ribbons are pressed against each other. This produces a wavy appearance in the coloring. The ribbon can also be wet when passed through the rollers. “The air in trying to effect its escape, drives before it the moisture, and hence causes the appearance of the curiously tortuous lines, resembling waves. (Cole, George S.. A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods and History of Silk, Cotton, Linen, Wool and other Fibrous Substances. Chicago: W. B. Conney,1892)
Additional Resources 

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