Mrs Bowden’s top tip – the origin and application of ricrac

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – the origin and application of ric rac
I do love a bit of ricrac and find it immensely cheerful.  It’s very easy to use and actually far more versatile than you may initially imagine.  I’ve had a bit of a pootle around the ‘tinternet to find out a bit more and discovered that apparently it was first called Waved Crochet Braid. A little bit of  a mouthful and personally, I feel that ricrac rolls off the tongue in a more satisfying manner.
Depending on how old you are, if you say ‘ricrac’ to a sewer they may fleetingly reminisce about brown, orange and green ricrac applied to almost everything between the years of 1972 and 1977!  However, it has got far more in it than that!
Look at this divine 1950s evening dress.  The white ricrac has been used so cleverly to create a vine effect – I think it’s stunning!
There are three types of ricrac; cotton, polyester and nylon.  The cotton version is able to withstand laundering and is a good option if you are applying it to garments or items that require frequent washing – e.g., a child’s toy.  The polyester version is widely available but usually has a higher lustre and can be a little stiffer – very good for crafting but be cautious when ironing.  The third type I have mentioned is the nylon version.  This is excellent for general paper crafting and card making but melts almost as soon as you look at it so it is absolutely to be avoided when using with fabric if the item needs any kind of pressing.
I associate ricrac with a bit of a peasant/Mexican vibe and have often used it to decorate my dresses.  You can see here the addition of ricrac to a pocket and hem on my Birthday gypsy dress last year.  There is also an example of a sewing purse I made where the ricrac has been added to create a ‘crazy patchwork’ effect.  This example of a Gypsy top is from a reproduction clothing company and shows how beautifully a top can be jazzed up a bit very simply.  I’m teaching a Gypsy top workshop on Saturday, 6th May and I am in the process of producing cute samples to show how the ricrac can be used creatively.

I think the ricrac application on these garments is superb but also thought it would be helpful to go through how it can be applied and how you can vary the application too so keep your peepers peeled for the next top tip!

Until next time,

in stitches,

Mrs Bowden x

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