Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Test Flight in Fly Fringe

Yummy :)

Oooo I love the fluffy, tufty, fabulously delicate silk "fly" fringe that is so often found trimming the sleeves, stomachers, and ruffles of 18th century gowns.

Lately I've been oohing and ahhing over 18th century dresses. I'm planning a Mozart birthday party for the end of January, and I'm really getting in the mood. I want to do up a sacque for it, if I have time.  After the holidays, I will know more. In the mean time, I thought I'd give the fringe a try.

While you might find acceptable trim to attach this fly fringe to, before adorning your gown, it is almost impossible to find fly fringe for purchase. So, we must create. 

...And apparently, from what I have heard and seen, fly fringe is usually always attached to some other type of trim, and not solely applied to fabric. This means attaching your fringe to gimp or some such base trim. Now, this is just what I have heard/seen so far, so I'm not saying it's never, ever, ever directly attached. Just saying...  

I ordered some Au Ver a Soie "soie ovale" (silk floss that is not twisted), but I couldn't wait for it to come, so I got out some leftover cotton DMC floss and started testing out designs. 

I started with this tutorial from Quaintrelle Life, then expanded upon it.

Samples of fly fringe.

The multicolor on the green is my favorite so far. I think with the silk I
 will make the trim even smaller. The green shows about 1/2" from
knot to knot.

I thought I would like the most complex, involved one best,
but it was a little overwhelming. I came to the conclusion that
simple is better,  since it will be added to a base trim.

I'm not going to bother with instruction, since the Quantrelle Life tutorial is pretty good, but I will share an interesting thing I learned from making this fringe:

Initially I used a knotting shuttle, as is recommended. Part way through, I put it aside and it was actually easier without the shuttle. I will say, for the initial length of knotted floss, the shuttle was handy, but weaving in the additional floss worked best without it. 

Also, it may not look quite as great as the silk floss, but it is totally possible to make this trim with the cotton floss. The cotton floss is so easy to find and much less expensive than silk, and if you don't care so much about historical accuracy, it has a very similar look, just not as fluffy and shiny.

And P.S., this goes really, really fast once you work up a rhythm. Very satisfying :)

Has anybody else tried making this. Any tips?


  1. Looks pretty amazing to me! I've never tried this, so I'm super impressed with what you've accomplished. Can't wait to see how you use it. :)


    1. Wow thanks! I was really excited to try it. And I find, whenever I'm really excited, it's like the good vibes get sent out and things turn out well :)

  2. you might check out the facebook page of the margaret hunter shop of milliners and mantuamakers at colonial wiliamsburg. they have been making fly fringe. their method involved weaving the flies into a tape on a tape loom. hopefully you can see this:

    1. Oooo thank you so much!

      This explains so much. It's so hard to decipher what the trims really look like in pictures of gowns, since they are such a jumble of tufts. I have an inkle loom I was planning to use to weave the gimp and add the fringe in. I wonder if it works much differently than this upright one. I'm not much of a weaver...

      Thanks, again!

  3. Once again, I am amazed. I like to go to your blog as often as possible for a "breath of fresh air". I always see something new and lovely, and it keeps me from flying off.
    Sitting here looking at the fly fringe, it reminds me of sugary French petit fours, glace fruit, meringue, sugarplums! And,.....I am happy!

    1. Yes! Thats why I carve out time every day to do something pretty or learn something pretty. Otherwise the nasties can come in and get you down. Boo.

  4. I took a class at the CW Costume Design Center a few years ago and I confess I had a most difficult time of it. =) I meant to keep practicing but haven't had time. I've been too busy with too many other things, like teaching! =)

    1. There's always so many more things to do that get in the way. I set time aside to do this stuff, on purpose, because it makes me happy :)

      So, since you took a class, how is mine looking? Am I getting the idea of it?

  5. If I recall correctly, a couple of years ago there was a limited class offered at Costume College on fly fringe. I did not make it into the class but I think a couple of the supplies we were to bring was a rock or hammer?? I think I'm remembering this correctly. Some of your readership may be familiar with technique. My goal was to find someone who took the class and pick their brain but alas with so much going on at Costume College I forgot.