Creating Decorative Flowers with Ribbons
Flowers, whether beautiful cutting flowers from the garden, flower photographs, paintings with flowers in the scene, or embroidered flowers, make people happy. Those of us who enjoy creating flowers artificially have used clay, porcelain, fabric, raffia, paper, and myriad other materials to make extraordinary flowers. One method that may not be as familiar as others, however, is ribbon flower-making.
Ribbon arts were used to decorate military uniforms and clerical vestments in France in the 17th century. Toward the last half of the 18th century, ribbon embroidery began to appear in French fashion. Although it took months to stitch, ball gowns began to emerge with lavish ribbon festoons. But only royalty could afford the finery.
Near the late 19th century, thanks to the Jacquard loom which mechanized the process, and master embroiderer, Michonet, ribbon work was seen on shoes, parasols, hats, gloves, shawls, and household decorations. During this time in history, women took great pride in learning how to embroider and in their needlework skills, so ribbon work was remarkably widespread.
The beginning of the 20th century ushered in an explosion of ribbon work use and popularity. Finally, the middle class had access to this beautiful handwork. It was during this time that designs were made of less embroidery and more trim made by couching and the use of three-dimensional ribbon work.
Ribbon Work Celebrities
There are several contemporary "stars" in the ribbon work world. Many consider Candace Kling, ribbon artist, teacher, textile sculptor, and author of The Artful Ribbon, one of the experts in this field. Kling once said about ribbon leaves:
Green creates the background that makes your ribbon flowers stand out. Every ribbon flower bouquet deserves to be accentuated by gracefully dancing leaves. Leaves add movement to your work.
Helen Gibb is a certified professional demonstrator and a ribbon work designer. Flowers and everything about flowers is her design focus. She has written several books concerning ribbon projects. Helen says:
These sweet flowers are easy to make and a joy to give. Make bunches of them to share! I am often complimented on the posy [pin] when I wear it, and when people find out that it is made of ribbon they are very surprised.
Making flowers from wired ribbon is straightforward and beautiful. But other types are also lovely. They include:
- Bias-cut silk
- Two-toned silk satin
- Metallic lace ribbon
- Gold braid
Ribbon flowers are even more exquisite when they are paired with:
- Double-headed stamens
- Glass beads
- Frosted gold seed beads
Ribbon Work Terms
If you are familiar with the craft of ribbon work, you will already know these terms. But for those who are new to ribbon fancies, here's a short review:
Ribbon width (the width of the ribbon times the length needed for a particular flower)
- Knot kisses
- Random running stitch
- circular stitching
Ribbon and Material Terms
When you begin to read your first instructions on making a particular flower, you will need to understand these terms:
- Dipped corner petals
- Corner petals
- Pinch petals
- Folded edge
- Frayed Edge
- Rolled edge
- Prairie point leaves
- Curved leaves
- Boat leaves
- Half-boat leaves
- Mitered leaves
- Coiled roses
- Folded roses, and more
Experts in stitching want you to remember, the smaller or narrower the ribbon, the shorter the stitch length. The broader it is, the longer the stitch. And it's always a good idea to vary the size of your stitches to give flowers a more natural look.
- Decorate a hat with three large roses.
- Adorn a drawstring purse.
- Add ribbon roses to a length of silk ivy.
- Make a corsage or cushion embellishment.
- Stitch your ribbon roses to crinoline, then trim excess "crin" and glue to a matte board for framing.
- Trim the edges of a fabric covered box with ribbon and add a ribbon rose and two leaves to each corner of the top of the box and to the front center side of the box.
Renaissance Ribbons is about to launch its own line of limited edition Ribbon Flower Kits. The handy kits will include 12 to 16 yards of an array of original and vintage French ribbons and a bundle of stamens. What we mean a when we say "vintage stock" is that the original material is no longer used nor is it being manufactured. Polyester thread has now replaced the higher quality of the particular French ribbon in the kit.
Once you receive your materials, you can find simple guidance and helpful hints for making ribbon flowers on our site.
Renaissance Ribbons flower tutorials include information on how to create:
- Apple blossoms
- Sweet Peas
- Wild Roses
Renaissance Ribbons offers its customers exceptional service; ribbons by-the-yard; pre-cut selections; sewing kits, and free online tutorials. Contact us for more information on this fast-growing crafting jewel.