Along the Edge

Let’s talk a little about the edges of ribbons.

In the 19th century, the edge of a ribbon could be straight like a selvage or it could be decorative. Decorative edges were created in the weaving process. Often, this was done with the use of wires that were later removed.

In this comparative image, we can see several different edges to 19th century ribbons. The three left most ribbons have a straight edge. The red and cream in the center have a picot edge, in this case set in groupings. The two to right most are scallop edges.

Ribbon Edges

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)

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.”

Here are some examples of a picot edge from the MFA (click on the thumbnail to see the ribbon at the museum.):








Examples of a scallop edge:




Other edges: