One of the prettiest embellishments I can add to a handmade bag, is also one of the simplest to do. I thought I'd throw together a quick tutorial on how it's done, as I've been asked so many times...these can be done with just about any ribbon (or fabric) of your choosing: good ol' standard ribbon with a finished edge; bias cut silks (the brown one is a soft, silk ribbon, while the beautiful silk plaid that was bought as ribbon, is heavier in weight and I am convinced the same could be achieved with silk fabric, cut on the bias at home) that can be frayed along the edge; or fabric strips - torn or cut to desired width.
Materials needed for this project include: RIBBON, or fabric strips (approx. 32 to 36"), of choice; HEAVY THREAD (I like the Dual Duty XP Heavy, by Coats and Clark...a little lighter than upholstery thread, but heavier than hand quilting threads) in a neutral color; SEWING NEEDLE (I love the size 13 quilt basting needles, as they are long enough to gather lots of ribbon in one shot on, and have a larger eye, making them easier to thread in my declining eyesight years); CRINOLINE (or base material of your choosing...crinoline can be found in most fabric stores that sell bridal notions); BUTTONS OR BEADS for center embellishment; and SCISSORS. For finishing off the backs, you will need PIN BACKS (available at most craft stores, in a variety of sizes); FELT (I like to use wool felt, usually felted/washed for that thick, crinkly effect, but regular felt will work just fine); and HOT GLUE.
Ahhhhhhh, bias cut silks...not always easy to find, but I have a wonderful source, and now you can, too! Carole at The Ribbon Store, is a long time friend and carries some of the most beautiful ribbons you've ever seen - new and vintage! Don't see what you want - just drop her a line. The beauty of the bias cut silks is that they can be frayed along the edges, for a feathery look. The same can be achieved with cotton fabrics that can be torn into strips. However, the rosettes look just as fabulous with straight edge ribbons. To fray the edge of a silk, bias cut, simply drag a pair of scissors gently down the edge, as if you were curling ribbon for a package.
Knot a single length of thread (about 36" should do all of your gathering, forming and embellishing) and take a stitch at the upper edge of one end (the gathered edge will be your center...something to take into consideration if working with a two-toned ribbon). Take a few "anchoring" stitches over the edge to make sure your knot doesn't pull through the ribbon as you are working. You will be working in a "running", or "gathering" stitch...simply put, in and out. Working from your top edge down, towards the bottom of the ribbon, you will gently curve your stitches into a rounded edge, and continue along the length of the ribbon. On a finished edge ribbon, you can stitch within about 1/8" - on anything with a frayed edge, you will want to stay about 1/4" from the edge (the photo above has both edge types going on).
As you approach the opposite end of your ribbon, you will want to do another rounded corner, and continue up to the top edge of your ribbon. Make sure your ribbon is gathered evenly, and anchor off your stitching, without cutting your thread.
Now's the point where you will want to add a center, and/or any other embellishment you may want. Buttons, beads, buckles, lace, more ribbon...let your imagination take over, or keep it as simple as you wish. When you've finished, you can finally knot that thread.
Gather your pin base and felt. Cut a circle from your felt (these were cut at 2-1/2" in diameter). I like to hand stitch my pin backs to the felt, but you are welcome to simply hot glue them in place.
Heat up your glue gun and, being careful not to burn yourself (famous last words, each and EVERY time I use that thing), apply glue around the back of the felt, and center this on the back of your rosette.
Yes, my old work horse glue gun is seriously 29 years old - I believe it was one of the first that Black and Decker manufactured for crafting. It is the original model where you have to press the glue sticks in with your thumb, which forces the melted glue out of the end. It has seen better days but is still the best one I own...and most dangerous, too.