Five Easy Steps for a Fabulous Ribbon Embellishment Project

Ribbon embellishment has been a strong fashion and home decor trend for a while now, from embellished T-shirts to textured pillows. It’s a great way to dress up a simple project, and it is so easy to do! Try this fun ribbon ruffle technique, which can be used on a pillow as shown, or you can make it smaller and use it as an accent on a T-shirt or purse.

The Chrysanthemum Pillow from the Spring 2009 issue of Stitch.

Start with a wide ribbon (at least 1" [2.5 cm] wide) that has some drape so it can be easily gathered. You can get different effects just by the type of ribbon fabric you choose.  For example, a shiny satin ribbon will give you a totally different look than a sheer organza ribbon. 


If you want a unique textured effect, try a ribbon yarn (like the one used on the pillow) or make your own ribbon out of fabric strips sewn together end to end. You could mix different fabrics from your stash, use the printed selvedge edges from fabric pieces, repurpose fabrics from vintage finds, or use a knit or felt fabric and leave the edges raw.


Once you have the ribbon, all you need is a handsewing needle, matching thread, and a fabric marking tool to outline your flower circle, then follow these simple instructions:


Flower Ribbon Ruffle

– Cut the ribbon into manageable strips (this will vary based on the size of your flower). With your handsewing needle and thread, baste one of the ribbon strips along the length, ½" (1.3 cm) from one edge. When you get to the end of the strip, pull the thread to gather the ribbon in a loose ruffle, and secure the thread. Repeat basting and gathering for all the remaining ribbon strips; set aside.

– Using a fabric marking tool, draw a circle (use anything from a glass to a plate as a guide) on the right side of the base fabric. This will be the outer edge of your flower.

Use this technique on a pillow, or try a smaller version on a shirt or purse.

– Take a gathered ribbon strip and pin it all along the edge of the circle, once around, placing the gathered edge of the ribbon along the circle line. Leave any remaining ribbon strip unpinned until you have sewn around the circle once. Topstitch along the ribbon ¼" (6 mm) from the gathered edge. As soon as you have made your way around the circle once, continue to pin the remaining length of the ribbon strip, spiraling in and layering the ribbon as you go, then sew it in place. Be sure to place each new layer of ribbon so that it overlaps the layer before it and none of the fabric shows through between the layers. Continue adding ribbon strips in a layered spiral until you have a 3" (7.5 cm) diameter center fabric circle remaining.

– To create the center of the flower, take a gathered ribbon strip and coil the strip in a continuous circle around itself to form a rosette that is wide enough to fill the center circle of the flower. Baste the base of the rosette to keep it coiled. Whipstitch the rosette in place in the center of your flower.

– Check to make sure all your flower ruffles are secure by running your hands through the ruffles. Handstitch any areas that are not fully stitched down.

So simple! For more techniques like this plus a wealth of contemporary sewing projects for clothing, home décor, and gifts, check out Stitch magazine. I guarantee you will find enough creative sewing inspiration to keep you happy at your sewing machine for a long time.

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3 thoughts on “Five Easy Steps for a Fabulous Ribbon Embellishment Project

  1. I don’t understand the part that sya’s to top stitch 1/4 in from the gathered edge. If the ribbon is 1 in wide, you gather at 1/2 in and sew it on the pillow. Then you say to top stich 1/4 in from the gathered part. Why? and that sounds extremely difficult after already being sewn onto the pillow. What purpose does the top stitch serve?