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


  1. Oh my goodness is this gorgeous!!! Thank you so much for this awesome tutorial!!! I will be trying my hand at it...we will see how I do!! You are so very talented!!