Accent: (In my world) an accent is hair made into a charming design that accentuates a hairstyle enough to change its overall look. Most people view an accent as a silk flower or pearl pin added after the style is completed. I see those things as decorations. So, what is the difference and why does it matter? It doesn’t matter, unless you are trying to learn my methodology behind creating hairstyles.
Braid: A braid is the folding or weaving of hair, straw, ribbon into a pattern. A braid with more than three strands is also known as a plait.
Dutch, French, and Taper: These three terms are all about the outside strand and what the outside strand is doing. If you are only braiding one strand then it is the outside strand, and it is going over and under at the exact same time making itself a Taper braid. If you have an even number of strands (like 2, 4, 6, or 8 strands) then the outside strands are going over on one side and under on the opposite side making them Taper braids. – disclaimer ~ Taper braids may look like taper braids or they can look like dutch braids (tricky gathering technique needed to get this look), but so far, they have not been able to look like french braids without turning into what looks like a 3-strand french braid.
Rope and Knot braids are Taper braids. So, when you are making two of them side by side you need to mirror them in towards each other…make the opposite braid motion…so they face each other correctly. This is true for all Taper braids. When creating two of them on a head, make the opposite motions for the second braid so it flips correctly facing its twin. The sweet girl in the green sweater below is sporting a 4-strand taper braid. Notice how it tapers from french to dutch. The two 5-strands on the far right are dutch 5-strand (left) and french 5-strand (right). The dutch cannot be made to look french without turning into something that looks like a 3-strand french braid. However, the french may be gathered to look dutch. To make the french braid look dutch, simply center gather.
Center Gather: There are traditional ways to gather that have been taught from generation to generation. That gather technique is found in books all around the world. Center Gathering is not something known yet. Just as I have introduced the word Stitch into the braiding world…so have I introduced the word Center Gather into the braiding world. Center Gathering is done with french braids of 5 or more strands (odd numbers 5, 7, 9). By Center Gathering a french braid with a lot of strands, the braid lifts up and curls upward, symmetrically on both sides. Here is a video because photos don’t do it justice.
Stitch: I made up the word Stitch, just like I made up Taper, because of the chaos in the previous definition: French, Dutch, and Taper. Until my original website went up…the world refereed to braiding as French Braiding. It was so constricting, leaving an author with the inability to write comprehensively about braiding in detail. Now we all use the word stitch, partly, because it is such a necessary word (with the new braid options introduced via internet) and partly because – I am so cool. To fully understand what Stitch means you must also know what Lace means. Lace is a braid that only gathers into one side of a braid. And, so, that is why Stitch is a braid that gathers into both sides.
Why bother? … Why not still call it a french braid? Because a french braid can be done Laced. So, if a french braid can be done Lace, Blossomed, Wobbly, Overlay, and “French”…then, “French” no longer is a working word to define a braid that gathers into both sides.Why Not??? Still confused?
Well, French Braiding used to mean a whole lot of things.
1. It used to mean anything that gathered into a braid so it lay flat and didn’t pop up.
2. It used to mean what Lace means now. Gathering into only one side.
3. It used to mean intermittent gathering. If it gathered…it was a French Braid and it folded inward.
4. It used to mean intermittent Lace gathering. There are braids now that snake around the head back and forth that alternate sides that Lace.
French Braiding is such an old school definition. It just doesn’t work anymore. So now, if you are going to gather into both sides of a braid…any kind of braid…(french, dutch, taper, rope, knot, rosette, pretzel, herringbone, twist, 3-9 strands, center gather, edge gather) it is a Stitch Braid. You may Stitch a french braid. You may Lace a french braid. You may Center Gather a french stitch braid to make it look dutch. If Stitch means gathering into both sides, it almost makes sense when you finish weaving a new gather into the row of a braid…that be called finishing one stitch of a braid. Though it makes more sense to say you finished stitching the row of a braid when each side has been gathered into. Because, one gather is lace. If you finish one gather, then you have laced. If you finish both gathers to one row of a braid, then you have finished a stitch.
Edge Gathering: Gathering from both sides, but into the same strand. Lace and Edge gathering are very similar. The redhead in the photo sequence above has Lace gathering because the gathers only come from and go into one side. Stitch gathers come from both sides and gather into their respective sides. Edge gathers come from both sides and only go into one side, they both go into the same strand. Let me use a photo because the written word fails epically when describing this technique. Because the gathers are gathered into only one side, the braid flap can stand up. So, is this Lace gathering? No. If it was Lace gathered it would not have equal tension on each side to help its structural integrity. In other words, it would be more floppy, more likely to lean to one side. Edge gathering does not seem to work with dutch braids. I may be doing it wrong, but so far, I can not make it work well. So, to make this work, use a french braid.
Integrity: Google definition: