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Old 02-06-2007, 03:17 PM   #1
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Ribbonwork Tutorial

The question gets asked a lot about how to do ribbonwork. So I decided to put together a little tutorial which will show the method I use to make a simple piece of ribbonwork applique. Of course, there is more than one way to do this and every crafter has their own techniques. Still, from this starting point, you can go on to develop your own methods.

Let us begin.....

First, create your applique motif. I usually take a plain piece of paper and fold into fourths. Then I just cut until I come up with something I like.

Once you have a design you like, transfer the design onto stiff paper. Thin cardboard or manilla folder works well for this. Cut out your stiff template. You will use this template multiple times which is why you want it on sturdy paper.

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Old 02-06-2007, 03:30 PM   #2
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Once you have your sturdy template, get yourself some fusible fabric adhesive or double-sided stabilizer. I like to use Heat-n-Bond Lite. It comes in a roll and has a white and purple wrapper. The regular Heat-n-Bond is much too heavy for ribbonwork. I buy my Heat-n-Bond from Walmart but many fabric stores also carry it.

Other adhesives or stabilizers can be used. Some are sold by the yard. When looking at these, look for a kind that is "fusible" or "iron-on". Most of these have glue on only one side whereas the Heat-n-Bond has adhesive on both sides. Alene's and Pellon both make fusible stabilizers. Stitch Witchery is another one although I have never quite figured out how to use it.

My instructions from here on will assume the use of Heat-n-Bond Lite.

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Old 02-06-2007, 03:31 PM   #3
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Unroll your Heat-n-Bond. You will find that it has a shiny glue side and a dull paper side. Place the dull paper side facing up on the table. Place your design template onto this dull paper side. Trace around it with a pen or pencil. Cut around your design leaving a 1/2" margin all around.

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Old 02-06-2007, 03:37 PM   #4
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Keeping the paper side up, position your design onto the BACK side of your applique fabric. Iron on the Heat-n-Bond according to the package directions. Allow to cool.

Taffeta and satin are great fabrics to use for applique and are very popular choices. Other fabrics can be used as long as they are not too sheer, don't fray easily and can hold up to the heat of being ironed and any potential wear-and-tear the item might receive.

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Old 02-06-2007, 03:39 PM   #5
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Test your design and make sure it has been ironed securely and completely.

If so, then cut out your design with sharp scissors. Do this as accurately as you can.

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Old 02-06-2007, 03:40 PM   #6
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Once you have cut out your design, peel off the paper backing.

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Old 02-06-2007, 03:44 PM   #7
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Now position you design with the shiny glue side down onto your base fabric. Measure accurately to get it centered. Then double check that your design is placed exactly where you want it. This is important because once you do the next step, you can not change your mind.....!

Iron your design onto your base fabric according to the directions on the Heat-n-Bond package. Make sure all edges are securely fused to your base fabric.

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Old 02-06-2007, 03:54 PM   #8
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Some crafts people stop at this point and simply seal the edges of their design with fabric paint. But I will continue on to show how to sew the edges down for a neater and more durable result.

If your base fabric is pretty heavy (like gabardine or wool) you may be able to skip this next step.

Otherwise, this next step is useful when your base fabric is thin or is something that will be viewed from the back side, like a shawl, for example. Also use this method if you don't want any extra stiffness to your finished piece. In all these situations, it would be a good idea to temporarily stabilize the base fabric before sewing your design onto it.

Therefore, get some freezer paper. Its sold at grocery stores and places like Target, KMart and Walmart. You can use other temporary stabilizers but I like the freezer paper because you get a lot for very cheap.

Unroll some paper and cut out a piece slightly larger than the size of your design.....

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Old 02-06-2007, 03:58 PM   #9
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freezer paper is a good idea. Thanks for the tip.
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Old 02-06-2007, 03:59 PM   #10
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Take your piece of cut freezer paper and place the shiny side down onto the BACK side of your base fabric (the piece you just ironed the design onto). Make sure the paper covers the area where your design is. Hold it up to light and make sure. Then iron the freezer paper to the back of your design and base fabric.

The freezer paper is coated with plastic and the heat of the iron creates a temporary bond. The bond is not a strong one so handle your fabric gently.

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Old 02-06-2007, 04:09 PM   #11
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Now flip your base fabric over. You are now ready to permanently sew the edges of your design. This serves two purposes. The first is that the sewing protects the cut raw edges of the design and keeps them from fraying. The second pupose is that the sewing thread can become part of the overal design, making certain aspects pop out or recede depending upon the colors used. One may use thread the same color as the design or a contrasting one. There is a wide variety of threads available. Plain old multi-purpose cotton-poly thread is the most common. But one could also experiment with shiny nylon, metallic or varigated threads for special effects.

I use a tight machine zigzag stitch. Each machine has different settings so experiment on scraps until you find a stitch width and length that works for you.

Start at a point or corner and carefully sew around the edges. Take your time to do this neatly and smoothly because any little squiggles will show. You will have to go slower around tight curves and may have to frequently reposition your work as you go.

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Old 02-06-2007, 04:11 PM   #12
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Once you have finished sewing, clip you threads.

Turn your work over and tear off all the freezer paper.
Do this gently so you do not stress your sewing or your fabric.


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Old 02-06-2007, 04:18 PM   #13
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There! The basic design is done!




From this simple beginning, you can go on to create very elaborate ribbonwork. This just requires some additional planning in that you may need to layer your design elements in a particular order to get the effect you want. Really, the possibilities are endless!

Hope you found this quick-n-dirty tutorial helpful.
Feel free to ask questions about anything I might have missed.
Have fun!
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Last edited by Czechy; 02-06-2007 at 05:14 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 02-06-2007, 04:37 PM   #14
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Thanks for the tips, I'm not a great ribbon worker at all. I'll can hardly wait to try these techniques.
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Old 02-07-2007, 07:38 PM   #15
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Great tutorial Czechy!! You wouldn't be willing to add clip and fold to this tutorial would you????
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Old 02-07-2007, 07:59 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by spottedeagle View Post
Great tutorial Czechy!! You wouldn't be willing to add clip and fold to this tutorial would you????
This might help.

http://www.powwows.com/gathering/sho...ght=ribbonwork
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Old 02-07-2007, 09:43 PM   #17
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That thread explains clip-n-fold pretty well.
And the Scarlet Ribbons book does also.

Last edited by Czechy; 02-07-2007 at 09:45 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 02-07-2007, 11:04 PM   #18
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Hey Czechy.. I'd like to add a tip on using sheer materials like organzas.. heat and bond a section of white muslin or white cotton larger than your design and peel off the paper. Take the glue side of the muslin and place it over your sheer material making sure there are no wrinkles or lines in your sheer material... at the same time, heat and bond the backside of that muslin. On a low heat with the iron go over it till it's all, ''stuck together". The layer of cotton the other glue side act as a background for the sheer color and a stabelizer that protects the delicate material from the heat. All you have to do now is draw your design or designs on the heat and bond paper, and cut it out as you would anything else. On Mariposa's white shawl I used a batik organza with a nice luster finish to it for those appliqued butterflies. But I would first practice with some small pieces before doing a large piece. OHHH and when you peel off the paper after cutting the design out.. you will want to cover the front of your design when you iron it to your base fabric, with a piece of material like a heavy cotton broadcloth, broadcloth or best yet, a cloth diaper. That way you don't directly iron that delicate fabric or apply steam directly to it and melt it.
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Old 02-08-2007, 01:45 PM   #19
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The clip-n-fold style of ribbonwork...

How do you do it w/o the template? I don't have all of those tools to cut metal or anything. I don't even have metal. Should I go buy some? Is that the better way to make the clip-n-fold ribbonwork?
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Old 02-08-2007, 01:47 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superndngyrl View Post
The clip-n-fold style of ribbonwork...

How do you do it w/o the template? I don't have all of those tools to cut metal or anything. I don't even have metal. Should I go buy some? Is that the better way to make the clip-n-fold ribbonwork?
I buy mine at Home Depot or Lowes. It is the flashing used on roofs.
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