Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Therese Assignment 1: the search for galoon

The search for galoon (and what one might do with it) has taken me far and wide. As a librarian and wordlover, I looked first for a definition. After all, if you don't know what it is, how can you buy it? I ranged through all kinds of search engines. If you type define galoon into Google, you do get some hits, although it asks you whether you really mean gallon...

My confession is that I spent an inordinate amount of time typing terms into search engines like Google, Bing, Bing Images, my favourite Kartoo, and Clusty. I used search terms like galoon, galloon, galoon braid, galoon lace, and more. Given that Therese wants to use it as a binding, I'm assuming it is like a braid. Many of the websites I found took me to lingerie and erotic wear sites, where galoon lace seems a common enough term. But I didn't think Therese was talking about this kind of galoon lace, despite all her talk of fancy underlinen. During my ferretting around the web, I also noted that the web version of Therese's Encyclopedia no longers talks about braid or galoon. The image is there, but it is now referred to as 'sewing on flaps.' What happened? Was it too esoteric for more recent editions? Had racy lingerie given the term a bad name?

I found my way to Wordnik, where I found the word, and a chunk of text quoting the word but not really defining it. Of course, I signed up for Wordnik and added some comments of my own. Today's word-of-the-day is bombinate, in case you were wondering. Leading on from there, I found a definition from Webster's Dictionary. That made me feel a little shamefaced, so I got off the computer and went to consult our own copy of Webster, and then the OED. We have about three different versions of the OED on our reference shelves plus a range of other dictionaries. Why hadn't I thought to start there? Am I so internetted that I forgot about print? How embarrassing. Anyway, the Shorter OED lists the word under GALLOON, with an alternative for GALON. It is a French word, defined as a pice of narrow ornamental fabric, esp. close-woven silk braid or a strip of lace, used to trim or finish costume or upholstery.

I wandered down King Street to Bollywood Braids and Trims, a treasure trove of all things braidy. Alas, it being Tuesday, it was closed. I must go back. Surely they would know about galoon. Avanti, the lovely braid and tassel shop on King Street is no longer.

In my web wanderings I found myself at the Italian Ebay site, and found some divine berry coloured galoon trim. This is the current listing, and here is a picture.

Naturally I ordered some. In my exchange with the operator of the Italian ebay store, I also found their US version here, and a glossary of terms here. There is a wonderland of terms out there, arcane terms like dimity and dobby, suzani and tabinet. Who knew?

While I await delivery of the Berry Galoon, I wonder what to do with it. Trim underwear? Cushion covers? Trendy trim on a skirt or top? At the moment the best idea I have is to use it to bind the hems on some fine black pants. (Regular readers will know I have more than one pair of black pants, and they have names. Those in question right now are the Nitya ones.) When I wear velcro-closing sandals, the hems get caught in the velcro, and the hems of these pants are now shredded. A Berry Galoon binding might be just the thing to renovate them, and to practice on.

Our next Therese chapter is Machine Sewing, so stay tuned.


  1. It's lovely! And of course, other than Google and Youtube - ebay delivers once again!

  2. I once worked in the 'fancy goods' department of Kirkaldies, Wellington's poshest department store in the days when posh meant something - imported goods, mostly, expensive because NZ had very high customs duty on 'luxury' imports. Fancy goods was hankies (lace-trimmed, fine lawn, boxed or singular), fur trims (real fur!), silk scarves, umbrellas, and the higher level of haberdashery, like silk velvet ribbons and French lace (including galloon) rather than hooks and eyes and petersham bindings. I had a lovely time. We didn't sell shetland shawls, although we had fine woven paisley ones, but there were hand knitted shetland lace christening shawls in the babies' wear department, along with little viyella gowns and smocked tops.

    Sorry, the memory went into overdrive there for a moment.

  3. I remember Kirkaldies from my visits to Wellington in the eighties. It was a beautiful store, and I remember its lovely paned windows. It must have been a treat to work there among those silks and ribbons and lace. Aaah. Viyella baby gowns and smocks. Mmm. Remember Adrienne and the Misses Bonney in Sydney?

  4. I don't remember anything about Sydney - I only arrived here in 1998. I worked at 'Kirks' in the late 1960s as a school/university holiday job which included two 3-month stints, one of which I spent in fabrics. The store was pulled down in the late 80s (unsafe in earthquakes) and has been rebuilt inside the same facade. It isn't the same, though. Lower ceilings and much less generous proportions.