Stitch Flowers with RibbonAdorn garments and accessories with beautifully stitched blooms made from ribbon.
Making flowers from ribbon is the perfect project for beginning ribbonwork. Few materials are required, and the process is simple. Once you’ve learned the steps, you can almost immediately devote your full attention to the fun part: choosing and combining colors and arranging the gathered or folded ribbons into attractive blossoms.
As long as the ribbon is made from woven fabric, rather than paper or plastic, it can be used to make flowers. Ribbons with simple solid or blended colors, as well as those with patterns, jacquard weaves, and embroidered edges make lovely flowers.
The ribbons shown include: 3/8-inch-wide rayon grosgrain, wire-edged ribbon, iridescent organdy, and ombré taffeta. Ombré taffeta makes wonderful leaves, as you can easily reverse the placement of the shading. Wire-edged ribbons can be shaped, and iridescent organdies offer a reflective, sheer quality.
Use mercerized cotton or smooth polyester thread to stitch the flowers and leaves described and a long, thin needle that won’t leave visible holes in the ribbons. Millinery needles in size 8 or 9 are perfect, but first try needles you already have on hand. These flowers are sewn to a support fabric called buckram. Buckram looks like stiffened cheesecloth and comes in two forms: a lightweight, one-ply version, and a heavier, two-ply version that’s too stiff to make flowers. Crinoline, which is lighter than one-ply buckram, also is an option. A little of either goes a long way.
Simple flowers and pods
Use a single-layer ribbon and zigzagged running stitches to create easy petals for a simple flower. Add a tiny pod, bead, or sequin at the center to top it off. To sew a daisy or dahlia design, layer four or five petal rounds together.
Make the flower
1. Begin with ribbon. Cut 3/8-inch-wide ribbon about 7 inches long. With doubled, matching thread, stitch along the edge of one end for about 1 inch. Zig across the ribbon’s width, and zag back to the starting edge. Repeat three or four times until you reach the ribbon’s other end.
2. Create the shape. Pull the thread slightly to gather the petal.
3. Form the flower. Stitch the petal into a circle on a small buckram square.
Stitch a pod
1. Prepare the ribbon. Cut 3/8-inch-wide ribbon about 2 inches long. Fold it in half, lengthwise, and join the ends with a running stitch.
2. Stitch an edge. Turn the ribbon right side out, and stitch around one edge.
3. Gather one pod side. Pull the thread slightly to gather the stitched edge, and secure it with a knot.
4. Repeat on the other edge. Stitch and gather the other edge in the same way.
5. Secure the pod to the flower. Stitch the pod to the flower’s center, and trim the buckram out of sight.
Adapted from “Ribbonwork Flowers” by Camela Nitschke, Threads #64, April/May 1996.
Step-by-step photos by David Page Coffin.
Learn additional methods for making ribbon flowers: