Q: What is Soutache?
A: Soutache (pronounced SOO-tash), also referred to as "Russia braid," is a common element in the French art of passementerie. Developed in the 16th century, passementerie encompasses a wide range of trims, braids and tassels used as decoration on haute couture, draperies and furnishings. To make the “galoons” most often seen on military uniforms, swirls of soutache are stitched flat. In Soutache & Bead Embroidery, however, lengths of soutache are "stacked" to create a more solid visual element and a stable base for the addition of beads.
Soutache can be curved and shaped into many patterns and because it is essentially a textile, soutache jewelry has two wonderful properties; it is extremely light-weight and, like a well-made piece of clothing, it will conform to the wearer’s body.
Q: What are the differences between the different types of Soutache?
BeadSmith brand Soutache is:
Imported Soutache is:
Luxury Italian Soutache is:
Metallic Soutache is:
Imported Soutache is slightly larger and thicker than BeadSmith brand or Luxury Italian Soutache. See the figure on the right. The Imported Soutache is a scant wider than 1/8". The BeadSmith brand and Luxury Italian Soutache is a scant more narrow than 1/8"
This may seem like a miniscule difference but it can dramatically affect the look of an overall piece.
See the second figure on the right. the piece on the left is three layers of Imported Soutache worked around a 4mm bead. On the right, three pieces of BeadSmith brand wrapped around the same size bead. In the middle, three pieces of Luxury Italian. See the difference?
The different types of soutache can be used together - it is harder and more complicated but can be rewarding. ARwS recommends keeping smaller braids near the top and/or bottom of
the "stack" so that it does not get "swallowed" by the Imported Soutache. We also recommend the most tried- and-true method; trial and error.