RIBBON…how do I love thee, let me count the ways…


I was first introduced to making flowers from ribbon by Elly Sienkiewicz in the early 1990’s. She generously designed a wreath for a class I was to teach at a Maine quilt conference. This wreath had dimensional rosebuds made from beautiful wire-edge ribbon from France. Making these rosebuds from this lovely ribbon was a new technique for me and I was quickly captivated by this new medium and began using it in my appliqué designs. My garden of ribbon flowers has bloomed quite profusely since those first rosebuds. I enjoy working with ribbon as the flowers made seem more realistic than when made with fabric. The slightly dimensional look and texture of ribbon work in my appliqué pieces adds another level of interest to the piece. In this book I’ll share my garden of ribbon flowers with you and hope that you, too, enjoy this wonderful experience of gardening with ribbon.


Flowers make us happy. No matter if they are just in photographs, a small bud vase or a garden full of beautiful blossoms. While we can not all have beautiful gardens of blooms, we all do appreciate the beauty of flowers. There is something peaceful about working in a garden or even just arranging flowers in a vase or a bouquet. 


Working with your hands and watching something grow from a seed or small plant into something of beauty is a very satisfying and heartwarming experience. The same can be said when working with fabric or ribbon and creating something beautiful. Now you can have beautiful flowers year round and created from your own hands. Using beautiful ribbons and fabrics, create lovely blossoms for your quilts, garments or decorative items.


Ribbon has always been tied into our lives, from beautifully wrapped presents at Christmas and Birthdays, to award ribbons on our quilts. As children we were dressed for special occasions with a pretty ribbon in our hair or around our waist. Ribbons are beautiful and intriguing, they are something to be saved after the package is opened. Working with ribbons and creating something other than bows has been a practice and art form for over 100 years. Some of the techniques involve making beautiful flowers from ribbon. I, too, enjoy this wonderful use of ribbon and will share my specialty techniques with you in this book. 


Here’s a bit of the history about these wonderful ribbons. Wire-edged ribbon was first manufactured during the nineteenth century in the Southern Lyon/Midi region of France. It was used to make floral embellishments for ladies garments and fashion accessories. It was also used, as ribbon is traditional used, to tie packages. In French confectionery shops, even today, the ribbon is used to tie purchases of sweets into beautiful presentations sweets.


Originally made of silk, today’s wire-edged ribbon is made from rayon and is colorfast. In addition to manufacturers in France, factories in Germany, Switzerland, and the United States now make a wide range of colors in both solid and variegated shades. These ribbons are as much a feast for the eyes as the delicious French confections are for the palate.


Today’s high quality wire-edged ribbon has a thin copper wire along the selvage edge so it will not rust. Beware, however, of inexpensive wire-edged craft ribbon not made with copper wire. Less expensive metals may rust. Check the makeup of your ribbon by pulling back a tiny portion of the fabric covering the wire in the selvage edge to check the type of wire in the ribbon.


Wire-edged ribbon comes in many colors, textures, weights, and widths. The most popular widths are #3 (3/4"), #5 (1"), and #9 (1-1/2"). Ribbon can also be made into beautiful flowers that look realistic or creatively impressionistic. Each individual flower reflects the personality of maker. It is impossible to fail when making ribbon flowers. The techniques are very simple and more economical than you would expect. Many flowers can be made with less than 12 inches of ribbon. You can also use regular unwired ribbon to fashion certain types of flowers and leaves with the result being a softer effect.


Working with ribbon is versatile. For example, you can make a beautiful Baltimore Blue Bow for an appliquéd floral block by tying the actual ribbon into a bow, flattening and molding it for appliqué purposes. The ribbon can also be used for appliquéd woven baskets. If the ribbon is too wide, simply fold to the desired size. Once the shape is constructed, simply tack the ribbon in place with matching thread.


Wire-edged ribbon flowers almost make themselves. Whenever I teach these techniques, my students as “first-time ribbon flower makers”, cannot wait for the introductory directions to finish before they begin to make their first blossoms. Enjoy creating the blossoms in this book. Instructions for dozens of flowers, as well as many new roses, inspired from Celia’s garden will enable you to create blossoms of lasting beauty with your own hands.

Copyright © 2012 Faye Labanaris. All Rights Reserved.