Old-Fashioned Ribbon Trimmings and Flowers

Old-Fashioned Ribbon Trimmings and Flowers

by Mary Brooks Picken
Old-Fashioned Ribbon Trimmings and Flowers

Old-Fashioned Ribbon Trimmings and Flowers

by Mary Brooks Picken


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The art of fashioning decorative accents with ribbons is enjoying a revival among today's crafters, who find it the perfect way to add lovely touches to clothing, personal items, household accessories, and more.
Reproduced from a rare vintage edition, this profusely illustrated how-to book describes how to fold and sew lengths of ribbon to create dramatic ruffles, bows, and bands. You'll also learn how to use ribbon to fashion appealing florals; daisies, chrysanthemums, rosebuds, violets, petunias, dahlias, sunflowers, and even complete bouquets. Then use these charming ribbon creations to trim a hat, decorate baby clothes and lingerie, add a luxurious touch to lampshades and cushions, or embellish shoes, baby carriages, blankets, coat hangers, and much more.
Step-by-step instructions show you exactly how to proceed. No special talent, other than minimal sewing skill, is required to learn ribbon art techniques and experience the satisfaction of creating an attractive item for yourself, your home, or a special someone.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486162584
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 06/15/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 48
File size: 5 MB

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Old-Fashioned Ribbon Trimmings and Flowers


Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1993 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-16258-4




A ribbon is a band of silk, satin, or velvet, with selvages woven on both edges. Ribbons vary in width from 1/8 in. to 9 in., although during recent years ribbons wider than 9 in. have been made. Among manufacturers, the widths of ribbons are stated in lignes (pronounced lines). Gauges marked in lignes are made, so that the purchaser of ribbons can measure them and determine just how many lignes there are in each width of ribbon. Fig. 1 (page 2) shows a gauge, or rule, graduated in lignes along one edge and in inches along the other. The relative sizes of the ligne and the inch can readily be seen in the illustration, which shows the actual sizes. The ligne is a French measure that is used almost exclusively by manufacturers in selling ribbons to wholesale and retail dealers; but retailers sell ribbons by the yard. The manufacturer sells ribbons by the bolt and bases the price on the width in lignes. A bolt of ribbon is a roll of ribbon approximately 10 yd. long.

The common way of designating the various widths of ribbons is to use numbers. These numbers range from 1 to 250, the smaller numbers indicating the narrower ribbons and the larger numbers the wider ribbons. Fig. 2 (page 2) shows a ribbon gauge that indicates the widths of satin ribbon corresponding to the different numbers as adopted by the most reliable manufacturers. Unfortunately, however, some ribbon manufacturers ignore this gauge and use one of their own, in which the various widths are narrower than those corresponding to the several numbers in Fig. 2. Thus, a No. 100 ribbon made by one manufacturer may be considerably narrower than a No. 60 made by another manufacturer, whereas it ought to be wider. Because of the difference in standards, then, the purchasing of ribbons by merely stating the number may result in disappointment, as the purchaser may get a ribbon much narrower than she requires. To avoid error and trouble of this kind, it is a good plan to cut a paper gauge to the width of ribbon desired and then to buy the ribbon that corresponds most nearly to this gauge; or, if desired, the width of ribbon required can be stated in inches and fractions of an inch, and the nearest corresponding width of ribbon can then be obtained. For velvet, grosgrain, and other ribbons, the numbers of lignes corresponding to the various widths differ slightly from those given in Fig. 2.


The use of ribbons for dress ornamentation are so varied that to enumerate them would be a severe task. However, when a gown is finished, difficulty is seldom encountered in deciding how to strengthen or enhance it by means of ribbon ornaments or trimmings of certain colors or combinations of colors. Thus, a rose, a rosette, or a bow at the waist line, a tiny bud at the shoulder, or a little narrow strip of attractively finished ribbon tastefully arranged around the neck will oftentimes add a smartness to a frock that is difficult to obtain in any other way. Many times a garment that looks very ordinary may be improved wonderfully by an artistic arrangement of ribbon in the form of a bow, a rosette, or a flower. Indeed, such trimming will serve to give tone and strength just where it is needed and add greatly to the general effect or appearance.

Bows for little girls' dresses, for sashes, and for the hair are practically a necessity. For example, there is nothing prettier to behold than a dainty frock neatly made and trimmed with attractive bows of delicate pink, orchid, or blue. Many times a soft yellow or cream is used for such purposes, but seldom are any of the other tints employed.

Lingerie garments, likewise, offer great possibilities for the use of ribbon trimmings. Seldom is an elaborate night dress, corset cover, or petticoat made without ribbon placed somewhere upon it.

The ribbon trimmings, bows, and flowers given in this book are presented with the thought of giving the correct rules for the development of the different kinds. The making of such bows and trimmings is usually very simple when the correct handling of ribbons is understood. Therefore, for the best results, it is advisable to make up all the trimmings taken up in this book, no matter in what form they may be. This plan not only will be the means of making every detail clear, but will be the means of obtaining a supply of trimmings that will be valuable for many purposes.

In connection with the study of this book, it is advisable to note such things in the shops, for when the making of the various trimmings is thoroughly understood it will be possible to duplicate satisfactorily any ribbon bow, flower, or other trimming that may be seen. In this way, many of the attractive things that are brought out from time to time with style changes can be produced with very little effort.

The colors of the ribbons in nearly every case may be either harmonizing or contrasting with the garment with which they are to be worn. In making any kind of trimming, it is advisable to use as good material as possible. If the ornament is to be made of ribbon, therefore, it should be of good quality and of as rich a shade or as delicate a tint as possible, and the same thought applies for silk or velvet pieces that are to be used in the making of such articles.




Among the simplest forms of ribbon trimmings are those made by ruffling, or gathering, and plaiting. Numerous examples of ruffled and plaited ribbons are given in the succeeding illustrations. It will be observed that the thread used in ruffling and in making the plaits differs in color from the ribbon itself. This is done in order that the gathering thread will show clearly in the illustrations. In the actual making of fancy garnitures, however, the thread used should match the color and luster of the ribbon. The various shirred and plaited ribbons shown in the illustrations are used as trimming on skirts, sleeves, collars, and revers, especially on mature women's coats. They are used also on the edges of scarfs and for numerous other purposes.

Ribbon Gathered in the Middle. A ribbon gathered by hand in the middle and used for many of the purposes mentioned is shown in Fig. 3 (a). In order to have the gathering thread exactly in the middle, it is necessary to mark the line to be followed. Therefore, fold the ribbon directly in the middle and press it on the wrong side with a moderately hot iron, or press it between the thumb and the forefinger. Then gather the ribbon along the line of the crease thus made, using very short stitches, as shown at the left in the illustration. The length of ribbon to be used for making a ruffle of this kind must be one and one-half times the length of the space to be covered. For example, if a ruffled ribbon is to be placed on the outer edge of a collar that measures 36 in. around, the length of ribbon required to make a ruffle of the proper fulness will be 1½ × 36 = 54 in., or 1½ yd. In making such ruffles, it is advisable not to break the thread from the spool until the gathering has been finished.

The sewing-machine ruffler may be used for gathering ribbons. A ribbon in which the ruffling is done by machine is shown in Fig. 3 (b). The ribbon should first be creased in the middle, as in making a ruffle by hand, so that the crease may be used as a guide in gathering. A very small, fine stitch should be used for gathering, or ruffling.

Ruffled ribbons like the one shown in Fig. 3, whether made by hand or by machine, should be attached to the garment by machine-stitching or by a very short backstitch on the upper side and a long stitch underneath.

Ribbon Gathered Along One Edge. Ribbon may be gathered along one edge, instead of in the middle. Fig. 4 shows a piece of ribbon that has been ruffled along a line close to one of the selvage edges with a machine ruffler. Ruffles of this sort are used where a cluster of ruffles is desired, for borders on scarfs, or for the outer edges of other ruffles where great fulness is desired.

Ribbon Gathered Zigzag. A narrow ribbon gathered by a zigzag running-stitch is illustrated in Fig. 5. Ribbon so gathered is commonly known as shell trimming; also, it is called purled ribbon by milliners. In order that the gathers may be even and similar, guide lines must first be marked, as shown. Lay the ribbon on the ironing board with the right side up. Pick up the right-hand end of the ribbon and draw it down so that the ribbon is folded, and so that the top selvage edge lies squarely across the ribbon, in line with the grain of the silk. Press the fold with an iron, and open it out and the ribbon will then show one bias crease. Pick up the same end of the ribbon again and draw it upwards, so as to make a second bias fold running in the opposite direction to the first crease and meeting the first crease at the edge of the ribbon. Press this fold with the iron, making the second crease. Then open up the ribbon, fold it over toward the bottom, so that the third crease pressed in will be a bias crease parallel to the first crease made and meeting the second crease at the top. Open up the ribbon, turn the strip upwards, make the fourth crease, and continue in this manner until the entire piece of ribbon has been properly creased. Start the gathering near one end and follow the line of creases. Draw the thread tight enough to draw the ribbon together, as shown, but take care not to have greater fulness at one place than at another.

Single Knife-Plaited Ribbon. A piece of ribbon on which single knife plaiting has been done by hand is shown in Fig. 6. The length of ribbon required for this kind of plaiting is three times the length of the part that is to be covered. Thus, if a band of knife-plaited ribbon 24 in. long is needed, the amount of ribbon required to make the band will be 3 x 24 = 72 in., or 2 yd. In order to get the plaits of the same width and evenly spaced, gauges should be used. From a strip of thin cardboard or an old postal card cut four gauges, each as wide as the desired plaits and about 2 in. longer than the width of ribbon to be plaited. Take special pains in cutting these strips to have them of equal width throughout. Lay the piece of ribbon wrong side up on the work table, and secure the end to the table by tacking or pinning. About 1 in. from the end farthest from you lay one of the gauges squarely across the ribbon, so that its upper end is ¼ in. below the top edge of the ribbon, and hold it in position with the finger. Bring the ribbon back over the gauge and crease it exactly in line with the edge of the gauge that is closest to you. Lay a second gauge exactly on top of the first. Bring the ribbon over the gauge and crease it at the edge of the gauge that is farthest from you. Then lay another gauge below the first two and on top of the ribbon, the edge of the gauge coming exactly in line with the edge of the first two gauges and not overlapping or separating in any place. Next, bring the ribbon over in the same manner as before and crease it at the edge of the gauge. Then place another gauge and proceed in the same manner. If the plaits do not hold well by creasing with the finger, a moderately hot iron should be at hand so that the plaits may be securely pressed in position. As the plaiting is proceeded with, gently remove the gauges from the plaits that are made and use them for succeeding plaits. In order to keep the plaits absolutely straight, it is advisable to watch the edge of the gauge and keep the end of the ribbon exactly parallel with it. Likewise, as the plaiting is continued, baste the plaits in position on the right end edge, so that there will be no danger of their coming out, especially if there are several yards of plaiting to be made, as it is impossible to keep it flat on the table until all the plaiting is finished.

Double Knife-Plaited Ribbon. A double knife-plaited ribbon is illustrated in Fig. 7. Such plaiting is done in much the same manner as the single knife plaiting. Gauges are used to insure perfectly even plaits, but eight are required instead of four. The first plait is made as in single knife plaiting, but instead of making the second plait alongside of the first, it is made directly on top of the first and in the same way as the first. When the second plait is completed, there are four gauges in the plaits, one directly over another. The third plait is then made below the first two, and close to them, after which the fourth is made directly on top of the third. The four plaits are basted or pinned in position, the gauges are removed from the first and second plaits, and the fifth and sixth plaits are then made. The work is continued until the required length of plaiting is done. The length of ribbon needed for making double knife plaiting is five times the length of plaiting desired.

Single Box Plaiting. Box plaiting may be used as a substitute for ruffling, if desired. Single box plaiting, like single knife plaiting, requires three times the amount of material to make a given quantity of plaiting. Half-inch plaits, both in knife plaiting and box plaiting, may be taken as a standard size, because they work up to good advantage for almost all purposes.

The single box plait is made by the use of gauges, the same as in making the single knife plait. The first plait is made by using two gauges, the next plait being made directly on top of the first plait, using two more paper gauges, as when making the double knife plaiting; but instead of being sewed down, the second plait is first turned back toward the left and then sewed in position as in Fig. 8. While the illustration shows the row of stitching in the middle, the box plait can be made and sewed down at one edge. The third plait is made to fit up close to the second plait; the fourth plait is made the same as the second and turned back to the left. The work is continued in this manner until all the plaits have been made.

Double Box Plaiting. Double box plaiting is illustrated in Fig. 9. Such plaiting is done in exactly the same way as single box plaiting, except that two plaits are first made and folded to the right, and then two more are made on top of these and turned back to the left. The work is continued in this manner until the required number of plaits have been made. The stitches, if drawn tight at the middle of the ribbon, will force the edges of the upper box plait to come almost together at the top, as shown at a and b. The length of ribbon required is five times the length of the strip of plaiting to be made.

Triple Box Plaiting. Triple box plaiting is shown in Fig. 10. It is made in the same manner as the single or double box plaiting, with the exception that there are three plaits one on top of another with the folds to the right, and three similar plaits with the folds to the left. In either double or triple box plaiting, the centers of the top plaits may be drawn together with stitches as at a and b, in order that the plaits will fold over and cover the row of stitching in the middle of the plaiting. If, however, this stitching is carefully done by hand, using very short stitches on the right side, the line of stitching will be practically invisible. Triple box plaiting in light-weight narrow ribbon is frequently used for the edges of fichus, scarfs, and baby bonnets. The ribbon used must be seven times as long as the strip of triple box plaiting desired.


Ribbon Petals. A band of ribbon may be covered with petals made of ribbon, after which it may be made up into various forms and designs. Petals of the same general form, but with slight variations, may be used in making rosettes, as well as fancy trimmings for the edges of collars, cuffs, and vests, skirt bandings, etc. The ribbon petals referred to may be made of any width of ribbon; however, widths Nos. 9, 16, 22, and 40 are the ones most frequently used. The ribbon must be cut into separate pieces, one for each petal, and the length of each piece must be exactly twice the width of the ribbon, as shown in Fig. 11 (a). Lay the piece face downwards on the table and turn in the upper right-hand corner a so that the cut edge a b of the end of the ribbon will lie even with the selvage edge at the bottom and the corner a will be at the middle point of the bottom edge, as in (b). Likewise, turn in the upper left-hand corner c of the ribbon so that the cut end c d of the ribbon will lie even with the bottom selvage of the strip and the corner c will meet the corner a. Stick a pin through the corners to hold them in position, and turn the piece over so that the selvage opening e is at the back. Fold over the left-hand point of the ribbon until the point is even with the bottom selvage and slightly passes the center of the petal, as in (c), and tack it in position with a stitch or two, as shown, so that it will not slip. Then fold over the right-hand point in exactly the same manner so that it passes the center of the petal, and tack this point to hold it in place, completing the petal, as shown in (d).


Excerpted from Old-Fashioned Ribbon Trimmings and Flowers by MARY BROOKS PICKEN. Copyright © 1993 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Table of ContentsRibbons Designations of Widths Uses of RibbonsFlat Ribbon Trimming Ruffled and Plaited Ribbons Ribbon Gathered in the Middle Ribbon Gathered along one edge Ribbon Gahered Zigzag Single Knife-Plaited Ribbon Double Knife-Plaited Ribbon Single Box Plaiting Double Box Plaiting Triple Box PlaitingRibbon Petals and Beading Ribbon Petals Sewing Petals on a Band BeadingRibbon Bows Bows Made without Needle and Thread Girdle Bow Tied Bows Bows Made with Needle and Thread Pump Bow Rose Bow Full-Blown Ribbon Bow Zigzag Bow Bat-Wing Bow Show-All Bow Moth, or Butterfly, BowRibbon Rosettes and Flowers Rosettes Camera Rosette Pinwheel Rosette Turbine Rosette Petal-and-Ruffle RosetteRibbon Flowers and Fruits Cabochon Foundations Ribbon Grapes Ribbon Daisies Ribbon Chrysanthemum Full-Blown Rose Rosebuds Wild Rose Rapid Rose Tiny Roses Ribbon Violets Corsage Bouquet Petunias Dahlias and Sunflowers

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