Traditional Fringe, Non-traditional Presidential Pillow

IMG_2705In Scandinavia pillows and bench cushions were often trimmed in fringe, both to protect the textile and add exuberant decoration. Typically, the fringe was made of left-overs from weaving the pillow cover or embroidering it.  The result was beautiful in its variety of colors and thrifty, in that fringe-making used up small bits of yarn, even combining varying weights of single-ply or double-ply yarn. Here’s my modern pillow, made with a thrift store fake tapestry. My challenge was to only use bits of yarn and partial butterflies from my big bag of ends, and I loved the bright results. In ten years, will we remember what this text refers to?


This old embroidered pillow cover was photographed in Elverum, Norway, in 1938. The fringe looks pretty much the same as mine.


See also this Swedish pillow with embroidered parrots.

There are different ways to make fringe, which can be left as loops or cut.  A Swedish two-person technique gives a beautiful crisp edge to the fringe, easy to sew down.  And it’s fun. Last week I made some fringe with my friend Phyllis Waggoner; multicolored sock yarn makes a fun fringe.


I made my pillow fringe with a technique using a stick and small heddle.


We will experiment with many embellishment techniques at my workshop next month during Fiber Fest at North House, Scandinavian Fringe Embellishments: Folk Art on the Edge(s). Come and be creative with us!