Thursday, May 9, 2013


One of the prettiest Ribbonwork flowers I can teach a student or customer, is also one of the easiest to learn.  Just in time to add a little pizazz to a Mother's Day package, or to dress up a sweater or bag - gather up some ribbons and let's give it a go!

One yard of 1" wide, double-edge wired ribbon will make up into an approximate 2-1/2" to 3" wide rose.  If using 1-1/2" wide ribbon, you may want a little longer length for fullness (1-1/2 yds. will do the trick - 1 yd. will still work, leaving you with a looser, not-so-full rose...still beautiful, though).  If you have chosen a two-tone, or ombre ribbon, you will need to decide which edge will be the inner portion of your rose, and which will be the outer petals - you will be gathering along the inner edge.  In the sample shown, I chose the darker color to be my gathered edge, or center of my rose. 
You will be gathering ONE EDGE ONLY (but do not remove the second wire).  To gather a wired edge ribbon, you will want to grasp your ribbon in one hand, and gently ease the wire from the end with your other hand.  You will also be pulling a bit from each end (towards the center) to begin with, and not just one end - this will prevent the wire from being pulled out of the ribbon completely.

1.  Pull STRAIGHT OUT from the ribbon end - not down at an angle - this will keep the wire from tearing through the side of your ribbon.  Pull gently, but firmly - from each end towards the center, til you have it gathered fairly well.  You will have a long, thin copper wire hanging from each side of your ribbon at this point.
2.  On one end of your ribbon, smooth it back out fairly flat for about 3 to 4" - leave the rest of the ribbon gathered.
3.  Take the smoothed out end and fold it over on itself, so that you have about a 3/4" overhang at the bottom, and a slanted side.
4.  Take the outermost edge of this folded piece (your wire will be coming from that edge), and fold it over on itself once more, to where it meets the inner edge of your previous fold.
5.  Roll this double-folded edge towards the gathered section of your ribbon, 3 or 4 times.  This will become the center of your rose.
6.  Pinch the base of this rolled center with one hand, and bring the long copper wire up and wrap it around the bottom of this section (making sure you catch not only the 3/4" overhang of the ribbon, but a tiny bit of your rolled section as well), about 4 or 5 times - enough to secure it.  Break off the wire (it's pretty easily snapped with your fingers) or cut it, just on this one end.
7.  Your ribbon should now look like this.  If you have more of a flat spot from the area you just rolled, you can gently pull the wire and move the gathers back towards that section.  
8.   The 3/4" section directly beneath where you just secured your first wire will be what you want to grasp to hold onto your rose as you form it.  Holding the bottom with one hand, gently (and LOOSELY - not so loose that it falls all over the place, but just a gentle, graduated motion, slightly larger each time, round and round the center) twirl the gathered length of ribbon around the center and beneath each previous round, until you come to about the last 1-1/2" of ribbon (the end with the remaining wire).
9.  If your gathers have loosened up towards the end of the ribbon, you can regather a bit now.  Taking the loose end, pinch it together with the center ends that you have been holding onto to form your rose.  Grasping these ends together with one hand, wrap your remaining wire around both ends 5-6 times (or whatever will hold), with the other hand.
10.  With the ends wired together, the back of your rose should now look something like this (snap or cut the wire, and fold the ends down onto the back at this point)...
11.  And the front should resemble a rose.  Just as in nature, no two will ever look alike - or be perfect!  The more of these you make, the more proficient you will become, and you'll be able to put your own "spin" on them.
12.  You can add little rolled edges to your petals by moistening your thumb and forefinger, and rolling the edges between them, just a bit - either in towards the center, or outwards towards the edge.  The beauty of wired ribbons is that you can manipulate and play with them until you achieve just the right look.  Want a more distressed/aged looking rose?  Wet your ribbon before using, crinkle it up, and let it dry.
These are kind of like eating Lays Potato're not going to be able to stop with just one.  Don't have wired ribbons?  The rose can be achieved by starting the same way, with the center folds and rolls, and then hand gathering with needle and thread (1/4" running stitch), the remainder of your length of ribbon.  This trick also works should you accidentally break your wire while working with it.
What you plan on doing with these will dictate how you finish off the backs.  A few friends and I made thousands of these (literally) in two weeks, a few years back, to be hot glued to some rather large invitations.  If I'm using these for something like a brooch, I like to stitch them down to squares of good old-fashioned crinoline (available at your local fabric/craft store, usually in either the bridal or interfacing sections).  Using a neutral, heavy duty thread, secure your flower to the crinoline, through the back, with as few or as many stitches needed - up and down - through the crinoline, and back through the front of the flower, etc., etc., etc.  It's not going to be pretty - you just want to make sure you get through all the "rounds", hiding the stitches from the front, within the folds.  Don't worry if your petals get a little crunched in the process - you can go back and fluff them out when done.  

Trim your crinoline, making sure not to cut through your stitches.  You can finish this off simply with a round of wool felt (or better yet, a silk leaf), with an attached pin back (or a magnetic corsage holder, if you're lucky enough to have access).  Hot glue the felt or leaf backing in place.  Everyone finds their own finishing touches and uses for these little beauties - I'm sure you will too.  These are the basics, pure and simple - have fun and make these your own.
We will be at the Grass Valley Old West Antiques Show in Grass Valley, CA tomorrow and Saturday (the 10th and 11th)...drop by and say hello.  Hoping your Mother's Day is spent surrounded by loved ones - Carole

Thursday, May 2, 2013


May Day has passed, and Mother's Day is fast approaching.  Here's hoping there's some SPRING in your step and you're enjoying a bit of wonderful warm weather, wherever it is you may call  home.  Vegas has been windy these past few days, but we've also had some beautiful sunny skies, so no complaints here.  Knee-deep in ribbons and velvets most days - these will be heading with me to the GRASS VALLEY OLD WEST ANTIQUES SHOW next weekend...sweet gift ideas for a beloved Mother, or yourself, just because you deserve it!
Beautiful hand dyed silk velvets, topped with more hand-dyes, in the guise of folded and gathered silks.  Each one uniquely different - no two alike - ALL guaranteed fun!  These have been set atop vintage porcelain egg cups.  I carry all the supplies I use, to help you with your very own crafting/sewing needs.
SO soft!  GORGEOUS, vintage-look, NEW high quality viscose/rayon floral embroidered net lace from Germany.
New stock that looks like the antique!  Gorgeous metallic, woven torchon border laces from Japan, in golds and silvers...
Beautiful, varied designs...don't see what you want, just ask!  I pride myself on carrying the best and most unique in the shop...from doll making to wedding planning needs - no project is too large or small!
Hand-dyed silks, to die for...seriously!  These are like butter in your hands, and the colors are absolutely incredible.  Created locally by a duo of fabulous fiber artist friends...
A basket full of Happy May wishes - may your days be filled with a riot of spring colors, now that the snow has passed (all but for Denver, yesterday)!  Let us help you out with your creative textile needs - drop by the booth next weekend at the GRASS VALLEY SHOW, if you're in the area, and see what's new that you just might not be able to live without.  Can't make the show - visit the eBay store, or drop a line.  A few tutorials coming your way here, in the future...thanks for stopping by!  Stay creative...