Wednesday, March 16, 2011


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.
A 2" wide ribbon, will give you a 4" diameter finished rosette.  This brown silk is actually a 2-1/2" ribbon that was turned up onto itself to give me a 2" wide ribbon, and providing a ruffled center effect at the same time.  NOTE: YOU WILL WANT TO MAKE YOUR STITCHES 1/4" APART (and they don't have to be perfect). This is an old habit that is hard to break for those of us used to small, neat stitches used in quilting and embroidery work. The reason for this is that looser stitches will gather more material far more compactly than tiny stitches do - take my word for it...don't believe me? Try it.

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).
Gather along the long edge, pulling gathers as you go.
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.
At this point, you will have gathered your ribbon to where it can be arranged something like this.  Overlap so that your short ends lay one on top of the other, about 1" (or whatever is pleasing to can also use a longer ribbon to do this, and curl it onto itself a few times, for a much fuller rosette).  Cut yourself a piece of crinoline for backing (a square about 3" X 3" should do you - excess will be trimmed), and lay your rosette atop it.  You will start taking anchoring stitches up and down, from ribbon through crinoline and back, to hold it in place.  Stitches should fall in between the folds, as you work around center.
Overlapped ends...
Use as many (or as few) stitches as you feel you need to secure the rosette into place - it's not going to be pretty, but it's not going to show, either.  Do not cut your thread yet...
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.
Trim your crinoline, making sure not to cut stitches or ribbon.
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.
Easy peasy - that's it, in a nutshell.  Pretty on bags and sweaters, alike...or anything else you can think up (I say as I am looking at my large male dog laying here, under my feet).  The three pictured in the first photo are available in the Etsy shop now.  Happy St. Patrick's Day - hope the rest of your week is magically delicious!


Colleen Mcgraw said...

Sure make it LOOK easy, they are beautiful!!

Vicky said...

Those are gorgeous!

Hopewell Creek Designs said...

Great idea! I bought an army green handbag,it has a rough and tumble military look so I was looking for something to add to it.I will take photos and show you if I add some of these to it =)

Amanda said...

Wow! Thank you for the lovely tutorial, Tanya! These are beautiful! What a great way to update your spring wardrobe! I had to laugh about your glue gun comments...My mom gave me hers years and years ago and it was so well loved and used. Last fall I had it plugged in and heard a loud pop and there was suddenly a small flame and cloud of smoke! It was startling and the end of an era! I almost felt the need to have a burial service! I hope yours lasts forever and ever!
Best Wishes and Blessings,

Barb said...

Thank you for sharing, Tanya.
Came here by way of Pat at alhcoopedup.
Use to live in Vegas way of Colorado.
I too have been around. Now live in Utah.
New follower!
Enjoy your day,

Jackie said...

You do make this look easy..but if I tried it would not go that easy! I know me! And Yes, I think Joe needs a rosette on his collar!
He would look even more adorable! Don't forget a mini one for Voltron!

Ronna said...

I am so glad you put on a tutorial for these rosettes. I learn easiest by visual methods and this makes it so easy for me to do. Thank you tons!

The Primitive Bucket said...

So pretty as usual... Thanks for sharing your talent!! Love you sis and a dog collar rosette would be a big hit I'm sure!!

Lynn at Cottage and Creek said...

What a great tutorial. I can't wait to try it. The silk fabric ribbon is lovely. Thanks for sharing. The frayed edges are a nice touch.

By the Bluegrass said...

Oooh, I love these! Think of the possibilities! Thanks for sharing, I think I'll try my hand at it.

Katie@LeBeauPaonVictorien said...

Hi Tanya,
What a great tutorial, thanks! I've often wondered how to make these; they seem simple enough, even for a sewing dunderhead like myself! ;-)

Julie (Legacy Crafter) said...

Those are really lovely!

Only Prettier said...

These are so pretty...great job!

Julie - My Primitive Heart said...

What a WONDERFUL tutorial Tanya! Thanks so much for sharing your "easy peasy" directions with us!! I have some vintage silk binding that I think might work and am excited to try it!! You always inspire me!!


Julia said...

These are great. Thanks for sharing the tutorial!

Colleen said...

Oh, yeah - I would rather pay and have you make them even though I used to sew! Yes, you did make them to look so easy but it's not that easy and I don't have the patience to do this!!!

Yes, my friend, you are so very talented!

Mandy said...

These are "sew" cute! Love to pull out my ribbon! Thanks for sharing!