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How to Make a Lovely Pleated-Ribbon Trim

May 11, 2012
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When I recently came across this white ribbon trim, I wanted to figure out how they made it. My last post on ribbon trim was so well received, I thought I would share the results with you.

For the unit of measure, I’m using ribbon width. I got this idea from Candice Kling, who has written quite a bit on ribbon techniques–she uses this as her unit of measure, so everything she demonstrates can scale up or down easily.

I will also alternate between a paper model, and ribbon, in this post. I find it’s a better way to illustrate how this works.

Marking the ribbon:

I use disappearing chalk on the ribbon, and mark lines perpendicular to the selvedges. These lines alternate–1/3 ribbon width, then 2/3 ribbon width, and so forth.

For example, if you used a 3″ wide ribbon, then the 1/3 width would be 1″,…

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  1. user-1117840 May 14th

    I love this ,thank you so much

  2. SusanJensen May 14th

    Thank you so much Kenneth! This is a beautiful trim.

  3. User avater sewbtfl May 14th

    I'm going to make this beautiful ribbon for a wedding gift pillow. Thank you.

  4. jansquires May 14th

    I am loving the series on ribbon trims. The illustrations were awesome!

    Thank you for all you share with the sewing world.

  5. jansquires May 14th

    I am loving the series on ribbon trims. The illustrations were awesome!

    Thank you for all you share with the sewing world.

  6. nanacosta May 15th

    Thank you Mr. King. As usuall, your explanations are just wonderfull!!! You really have a heart of a "grand maestro"

  7. LaLaLaurenAL May 15th

    beautiful! i must make! thank you!


  8. user-1090044 May 15th

    Absolutely beautiful! I can't wait to try this. Thank you.

  9. mjz May 15th

    Paper plus ribbon makes a superb demonstration. Thank you!

  10. Lizz13 May 15th

    Awesome! Another great embellishment for a special garment! Thank you for your ribbon trim ideas.

  11. JENN50 May 15th

    Thank Kenneth, I will use this ribbon trim technique on a jacket, love this!!!!

  12. User avater SewVegan May 15th

    That's beautiful! And the instructions are so clear. Thank you!

  13. User avater Mahogany_Stylist May 15th

    Excellent! Thank you.

  14. User avater Yumjo May 15th

    I've used so many of the trim ideas you've shared with us. This idea will also be used in the near future on a project I've been contemplating. These trim ideas are innovative, creative and beautiful. Thank you so much and I'll be watching for more.
    Ymana Johnson

  15. onyx107 May 15th

    Absolutely stunning and seems easy to achieve. Thank you Mr. King,
    once again you have shown people how to make something beautiful.

  16. user-1110475 May 15th

    Great embellishment! I can imagine using this trim on a variety of garments. It actually is a lot simpler than I thought when I first looked at the picture, thanks to the clear instructions provided. Thanks Kenneth.

  17. moscho May 15th

    Your instructions/illustrations are always so clear. Thanks for a beautiful trim technique.

  18. Mamato8 May 15th

    Isn't reverse engineering so much fun! That looks like fun! Much simpler than the effect.

    Thank you for sharing!

  19. user-320911 May 15th

    reminds me of canadian smocking

  20. kiti63 May 15th

    So, how much ribbon do you need per finished length, 3 to 1?

  21. RStaff49 May 16th

    Thank you for this wonderful explanation! There are so many ways to use this ribbon technique that it will be hard to choose.

  22. purpurkatze May 16th

    a very clear tutorial, i think it is very similar to what we call a "froschmaulborte" in germany-as an embellishment on a dirndl.
    Thanks for showing.

  23. user-1125733 May 16th

    Wow! This will come in very handy for heirloom sewing.

  24. User avater KennethDKing May 16th

    Thanks for the kind words!

    In answer to how much ribbon this requires, I generally assume a 3:1 ratio. Sadly I didn't keep track of how much the technique ate up, but 3:1 is a good rule of thumb....

  25. CarolJane May 17th

    Where is the how-to on the ribbon trim pictured on p 13 of the new Threads magazine?


  26. That's a wider trim than the previous one you did. Would you still attach it at the middle where the stitching is? Thank you so much for your wonderful tutorials. Much appreciated!

  27. User avater KennethDKing May 19th

    In regards to attaching the trim, you would indeed sew it at the center of the trim. If you want to tack down the ribbon at the edges you can, but to my eye, tis looks too restricted and tied-down.

    In regards to the request for the information on the ribbon trim in the current issue, click the link in the text of this blog to get to it.

  28. user-1146426 June 20th

    Do try this technique on satin fabric...first make tucks about 2 inches apart going one way (Verticle)...then do the same going the horizontal. Then hand tack folded edges of each square in the center...makes a lovely bow and gives plenty of manipulated fabric to work with...It's also very fast.

  29. nani July 2nd

    Thank you for another fun thing to try. I just bought some sheer green ribbon to try it out! I picked sheer ribbon because I have been inspired by your sheer jeans to not fear the sheer anymore. Baby steps.

  30. User avater KennethDKing July 5th

    "not fear the sheer"---that's a good phrase! Sounds like a mantra for sewing....

  31. sherijo April 9th

    Yes, Kenneth, please do keep the ribbon embelishments comming. They are a delight and you do a wonderful job explaining them!

  32. User avater WinterSewstice January 5th

    Wow! This is absolutely gorgeous! I'm glad this wonderful technique is available to me, what an awesome tip. Thank you.

  33. catstexas September 13th

    Thank you for sharing yet another technique for turning an ordinary garment into couturier.

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