Braiding, appliqué and lace

Braiding – găitan

Braid (găitan, șinior, sărad) made from plaited cotton, wool or silk thread in various colours is used for decorating coats, waistcoats and men’s jackets and trousers, in many areas of Romania. The exact style of the decoration and type of braid used varied from zone to zone. Home made braid called sarad made of black wool or hair and dyed with alder (arin) and calaican and spun double to make păpuși, then plaited is used in Moldavia.

Two types of braid are used in Banat, Oltenia and Muntenia – thick woollen braid woven made at home, and finer cotton or silk braid bought, sometimes from south of the Danube. In Bihor braid was made by sumănari with between 200 and 300 metres of braid being used for one suman. Braid made of two threads, one black and one white was used to used to decorate overcoats (mantale) in Dobrogea.

Braiding was applied to coats, men’s jackets and trousers using a special type of sewing machine from the late 19th century in Oltenia (and also in Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, southern Poland, Czech, and parts of Hungary). The braid used was usually black but under Turkish influence gold and red braid was also used, and in some areas of Romania red or dark blue embroidery was added to this braid.

Appliqué in felt and coloured leather

Sheepskin coats, jackets and over garments made of woollen fabric were decorated from 18th Century with appliquéd strips of coloured leather or floral motifs made of pieces of leather. Later wool and silk embroidery was worked on the leather fragments which were then sewn onto the garment.

Lace – dantelă

The use of lace is thought to have developed from the use of cheițe stitching to join two pieces of fabric. Thread or needle lace was originally made by hand at home using cotton, hemp or woollen threads. Later crocheted lace became more popular at it was quicker and easier to make. In 20th century the use of factory made lace became more widespread.

The motifs used in hand made lace varied from region to region and depended on the type of lace required. Needle lace was used on the edge of white headscarves, crocheted lace was used to decorate sleeves and hems of female chemises and men’s’ shirts in parts of Transylvania, Oltenia and Banat, and for towels and other household textiles.

Knotted needle lace called bibiluri is used on the edge of hems. It is made by passing the needle through the edge of the hem and making a loop, which is held in the left hand, the needle is passed through the hem again leaving a short space between, and the thread is pulled out under the loop which gives 2 threads can be tied into a knot. This is repeated several times to make a ‘festoon’, the last row of this is edged with a type of chain stitch and is joined to the hem. A bead or sequin can be fixed at the lower end of the ‘festoon’ or at the hem edge. These patterns are repeated along the length of the hem.

The Szekelers of Harghita make lace of thin cotton thread worked by knitting threads fixed to small wooden hammers fastened with needles on a special support, these are called klöpii. This technique is found in central and west Europe and was brought to Romania by the Szekelers in 13th century.

Beads (mărgele), coins, sequins (paietă or fluturaș, or fluture, pl. fluturi), tinsel (beteală), tassels etc.

White or coloured glass beads (mărgea, mărgele), coins, tinsel (beteală) and sequins (flutur, paietă) were used as decoration on traditional garments from late 19th century. These could be sewn along the edges (for example woven belts edged with white beads are found in Moldavia and southern Muntenia), or added to embroidered decoration or attached to lace. Beads made into necklaces were also used to decorate felt and straw hats, and belts made entirely of beads or leather belts decorated with patterns of coloured beads over the whole surface (replacing older style decoration with small pieces of leather) have become popular recently in northern Transylvania and parts of Moldavia.

The beads are sewn onto the cloth using one of two procedures,

  1. By stringing 3-5 beads on string of thread and sewing this onto the motive using a needle by catching 2-3 threads,
  2. Every bead is sewn on individually separated by distance of 2-3 threads.

In Banat coins were sewn onto headdresses and knotted fringes or tassels (ciucure, ciucuri) made of wool, cotton or gold and silver threads were attached to aprons (opreg).

Beteală a type of wide or narrower silver or gold metal tinsel or ‘ribbon’ is used to decorate fote, vâlnice, cămăși, or catrințe worn for weddings or festivals in many zones of country, especially in Oltenia and Muntenia. It is sewn using a needle with a wide eye. This form of decoration can be used on cămăși to make flat little star shaped motifs (steluțe) or straight stitches to edge collars or outline motifs on the râuri part of a sleeve or for vâlnice or zăvelci to make round raised motifs, or more complex motifs covering the whole lower surface of the apron in some cases depicting a row of dancers.

Fluturi or paiete silver or gold sequins (or spangles) of different sizes were used to decorate cămăși, catrințe, vâlnice, oprege, veste or fote from the 19th century in Oltenia, Muntenia, Dobrogea, and Moldovia. These were either attached to the edge of motifs or were used to fill in motifs. The sequins were attached to the cloth in one of three different ways:

  1. stringing every fluteri, by passing a thread through it 3 or 4 times.
  2. fixing each spangle in middle with a coloured bead:
  3. stringing more spangles in form of scale and fixing invisible with thread under the cloth.

Small mirror fragments, beads, and metal buttons were also used for decoration on sheepskin coats, jackets and woollen fabric coats.

Published on 18th February 2018, last modified on 25th February 2018