No announcement yet.

Ribbonwork - Tips??

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Ribbonwork - Tips??

    I've been working on learning Osage-style ribbon work and can make a passable piece but not as good as I'd like. I was wondering if anyone would be willing to discuss tips & tricks.

    Problems I'm having:

    Ribbon frays easily (currently trying out the new taffeta ribbons from Crazy Crow).

    Feel like I'm wasting a lot of the width of the ribbon (only taking 1/4-1/2" deep cuts).

    Looks okay from a few feet away, but close inspection shows variations in width and matching of points, etc.

    I know I could draw it all out perfectly and use iron on to lay it down, but I LOATHE shortcuts. I want to learn to do this the RIGHT way - not the "let's make an outfit as quickly as possible" way.

    I already own Scarlet Ribbons AND the video tape ... Lots of help on the other style of ribbon work but not so much on the Osage style.

    Ideas? Suggestions? Tutors??
    Be the change you want to happen.

  • #2


    I have tried CCTP ribbon and am not terribly impressed with it. It doesn't hold a crease very well.

    I use taffata yardage exclusively. I cut it to l 1/2 inch widths and then the length I need. I have been collecting colors over the years and have a great selection of colors. By the way, color is everything!!!!!!!!! Your technique might be wonderful, but if your colors are wrong, it still looks like a white man made it.

    Yardage taffata does not always hold a crease either, so I make my perpendicular cuts and then fold and press in place. Then as I sew I match the points if there is a slight discrepency. I don't baste as the old folks did. It's just one more process to mess with. I don't use templates either. I have my trusty 6 inch narrow metal ruler and measure the perpendicular cuts across the ribbon. It has worked for me for 27 years.

    Flyingfringes at BeadedPony's Place


    • #3
      That's helpful info! Thanks. I'll keep my eye on local fabric stores for taffeta.

      Something else that up last night after I posted that I hadn't thought of. I may be trying to work too small. I've only seen a couple of samples of ribbonwork in real life and that was some time ago. The photos I've seen are nice, but are photos of the whole piece versus details.

      The perpendicular cuts I'm making are 1/4" and 1/2" on 1" wide ribbon (I have the 1.5" ribbon but haven't tried it yet). Should these cuts be deeper?

      Except for one set of trailers for a bustle a friend of ours is building IF I can learn to do this, I'm not planning on making dance outfits covered in ribbon work. I would like to get good enough at this to use it as decoration on bags and things I'm making for a give away, though.

      Also, one of the things I noticed with the CCTP ribbon was that it "stretched" when I machined sewed it, giving a curvy bump to the side of some points. Does the regular taffeta do that? If so, is there a trick to avoiding it? I'm using a 1.5 stitch length - is that too short?

      I did try spraying and pressing the ribbons with Magic Spray Sizing before working a practice piece. That helped get better creases.

      Thanks again!
      Be the change you want to happen.


      • #4
        There are different kinds of taffeta: acetate, polyester and nylon. Nylon is used for outdoor gear and not for ribbonwork. The polyester is sometimes used but not as a first choice. The acetate is preferred because it creases nicely. Yet structuraly it is a very weak fabric and will disintegrate after a few dry cleanings. Acetate comes plain or with the watermarked moire finish that the Osage liked to use. Its hard to find the moire as yard goods so stock up when you come across it. Another option would be to buy undyed silk ribbon from ebay and then dye it yourself. The seller is from Florida. Tipis suggested this a while back for those who want to use the original ribbonwork material and do their own dyeing to try to replicate the old colors.

        I like BeadedPony's method of folding as you go so that you can get all your points to match exactly. You can't do that with a template.

        It sounds like you have a good grasp of the technique but just need the right materials and more practice to get the feel for the finer points of the art. Jeepers! I'm impressed that you can make little folds with only 1/4" cuts! Impressive but too small. Cuts 1/2 to 3/4" sound about right. Well, let us know how it goes.


        • #5
          More great help! Thanks, Czechy. I'll try the deeper cuts (relieved look).

          Also, I'd thought about buying and dying silk, but wasn't sure so here's a present back to those of you who've been helping.

          Dharma Trading Company has silk ribbon AND yardage in plain white and then sells all the better quality dyes you could ever want. I felt the prices were more than fair.

          Be the change you want to happen.


          • #6
            I have a question. Do you have to use silk, taffeta, or rayon for the ribbon work? Can you use solid colored cotton cut into strips?
            One thing at a time...


            • #7
              I suppose it depends on how traditional you want to be. I've never seen cotton used and my question would be ... why would you want to? Taffeta yard goods are the norm if you can't find the old taffeta ribbon that was used years ago. As FlyingFringes stated above, color is of utmost importance as well. I have seen ribbonwork done with both plain and moire taffeta, exquisitely done in 16-0 cut beads, and most recently an absolutely gorgeous strip done in silk embroidery thread. But, as I said, I've seen cotton least on any quality, contemporary suits.


              • #8
                Actually, cotton cloth was used in cut ribbonwork design. Especially on blankets around the lakes and the upper prairie. There is a famous photo of Keokuk Jr. wearing what appears to be a Hudson's Bay blanket with a huge cut 'ribbon' border. Several yeas ago there was a giveaway at Tipton Powwow where at least two of this type of blanket was given away. BUt if you're talking about 'straight dance style' ribbon work, I'd have to agree silky types are the norm


                • #9
                  Accatate Taffeta

                  Someone posted something about the accatate taffeta not holding up well when cleaned. Does this mean the first time drycleaned it falls apart or after the 100 time?

                  I have read some verying opinions on this topic of ribbon material.

                  Can't use the 100% poly taffeta it doesn't hold a crease, accatate taffeta dosent dry clean well, silk is too hard to find, cotton is out of the question. What's left?
                  One thing at a time...


                  • #10
                    How could I have forgotten to mention rayon taffeta? Its actually the preferred material for ribbonwork along with Moire tafetta. Both hold a crease well. The biggest problem is the limited number of colors available.


                    • #11
                      Has anyone else used costume satin? I have used it quite a bit. It does fray alot so you have to be realllllly careful and fray check will stain it if you are not careful, but it is most of the time washable and comes in many bright colors. All the stuff I do is applique...can't do the other stuff..just don't have the time for the demand the man puts on me for new suites (currently 4 in two years Aiyaiyai!!). Wonder Under seems to hold it in place well with minimal fraying for applique and then I have been using a fray stopper that is more like a clear rubbery just use a very little bit on the edge like you would fray check but it seems to hold better and if your zigzags are good and close together you don't see it either. To tell the truth, if it is satiny and shiny, I use it...does'nt matter to me since we hand wash it all.
                      Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic


                      • #12
                        We've been using Baroque satin for applique work. We were forced to try some of the costume satin on a recent fancy shawl outfit. It didn't fray anymore than the Baroque, but I found it stretched horribly whenever I had a curve or an angle to sew.

                        I'm starting to get the hang of the CCTP ribbon, I decided to use up what I'd order as samples on some Christmas gifts that are not likely to need dry cleaning and that would give me a chance to practice doing ribbonwork. The latest piece is coming along pretty well.

                        I've been thinking about ordering some white silk and dying it myself to see how it would work for the Osage style.

                        When you folks say "cutwork," are you referring to the large, 4-color bands with the mirrored designs? Is that also sometimes called Potawatamie (sp) style?

                        Be the change you want to happen.


                        • #13
                          All along I was talking about the snip-n-fold ribbonwork used on Straight Dance clothes. But if you are doing machine applique on cut-out pieces, then sure, you can use satin, lame', metallics, felt or whatever non-stretchy fabric that turns you on. The method of sewing and the look you want will define the options available to you. For machine applique, your work will be much easier to handle if you iron on a fusible interfacing to the backs of your applique pieces to prevent fraying, stretching or puckering.

                          As far as I know, all ribbonwork was originally snip-n-fold, including the large floral patterns seen on skirts and blankets. The machine sewn appliques so common today is a fairly modern shortcut which saves hours of making tiny snips, turning these under and hand sewing the resulting shapes.


                          • #14
                            You got it Czechy!! I totally admire anyone with the time and patience to do the cut and fold!! And the results are really that much better to look at up close!
                            Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic


                            • #15
                              What other way is there to make it besides cut & fold? :dontknow:
                              One thing at a time...


                              Join the online community forum celebrating Native American Culture, Pow Wows, tribes, music, art, and history.

                              Related Topics


                              • notchamama2000
                                by notchamama2000
                                Would someone start a thread on Ribbonwork? That is something if we see it would help because I would like to learn how to do ribbonwork.
                                07-23-2004, 09:32 AM
                              • ped xing
                                Attaching ribbon and yarn questions.
                                by ped xing
                                Saw the thread about yarn vs. ribbon and got to wondering.

                                How do you attach the ribbon when you do use it (and what size ribbon). And the same goes for yarn? Which is the best and the best way to put it on so it looks nice.. I like the clean, even rows no matter what is used. Any tips...
                                09-02-2003, 02:51 AM
                              • serapin
                                outfits for ffd's
                                by serapin
                                what do you guys look for in a great fancy feather outfit and why?????
                                08-30-2001, 04:06 PM
                              • NativeBoy'sMom
                                Which fabrics are acceptable for Ribbon Work?
                                by NativeBoy'sMom
                                I'm trying to make Straight Dance suit for my son. Can I use satin for the ribbon work?

                                I went to the fabric store expecting to purchase the recommended taffeta and found only patterned taffeta or pink taffeta. They had the colors I wanted in satin though so I bought some samples of...
                                07-24-2011, 01:22 PM
                              • randyinkc
                                Otter Turban Tips
                                by randyinkc
                                Howdy all-

                                I have been asked to make a Straight Dance turban for a friend and was wondering if anyone had some suggestions before I start off.

                                01-04-2001, 11:04 AM



                              There are no results that meet this criteria.

                              Sidebar Ad