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Guest Tutorial with Elaine Schmidt: Ribbon Petal Cockade

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I am in awe of Elaine Schmidt. I secretly refer to her as "the ribbon whisperer" because I'm so amazed by what she can get ribbon to do. The best part is, she's always ready, willing and able to pass along her skills so the rest of us can tame our ribbon into beautiful trims, rosettes, sculptures, baubles and beads. We recently reviewed (and gave away a copy of) Elaine's latest book, How to Make 100 Ribbon Embellishments. Today, Elaine is back with us to share a tutorial from the book. We've used some beautiful Amy Butler ribbons from Renaissance Ribbons to make a ribbon petal cockade... the amazing design featured on the cover of her book!

Historically, a circular ribbon embellishment was called a cockade. Cockades identified rank in the military and became symbols of allegiance to various political associations. These ribbon "fancies" evolved to become quite elaborate and continued to be used to decorate hats and other accessories of fashionable Victorian ladies. Today cockades, made with coordinating contemporary ribbons, can be used to embellish a bag or tote or a home décor project, such as a pillow or drapery tieback. 

Although the Giveaway has closed, the review of Elaine's book, How to Make 100 Ribbon Embellishments is still available. We give you a nice sneak-peek into a few of those one hundred great ideas. 

You can find How to Make 100 Ribbon Embellishments at your local independent bookseller, or online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble among others. It's offered for under $20 on both these sites, and the value of the tips, ideas, and step-by-step instructional detail is worth ten times the cover price. You'll turn to it again and again for inspiration.

Our thanks to our friends at Renaissance Ribbons for providing the beautiful Amy Butler ribbon

You can see more of Elaine's work at her website, as well as access her blog posts and order her books.

The cockade finishes at approximately 6¼" in diameter.

Elaine Schmidt's Ribbon Petal Cockade


You need three coordinating ribbons in three different widths.

  • 1½ yards (you need a total of 48") of ⅝" wide ribbon; Elaine used Pink Filigree from the Hapi collection by Amy Butler for Renaissance Ribbons 
  • 2 yards (you need a total of 64") of ⅞" wide ribbon; Elaine used Yellow/Pink/Blue Mosaic by Amy Butler for Renaissance Ribbons
  • ¾ yard (you need a total of 19½") of 2" wide ribbon; Elaine used Pink Blossom Pyramid from the Hapi collection by Amy Butler for Renaissance Ribbons
    NOTE: The 19½" length of 2" ribbon was cut so the pattern in the ribbon would be an exact match when the ends were stitched together to form the center rosette. If you do not need to exactly match the pattern of the ribbon selected for the center rosette, 18" (½ yard) of ribbon can be used.
  • ONE 4½" circle of buckram
    NOTE: Buckram is a crisp, coarse material stiffened with glue. It is traditionally used in millinery and to make books and draperies. It is also often used to stiffen the brim of baseball caps (I don't think baseball caps really qualify as part of millinery!). Buckram is sold by the yard and bolts can usually be found within the home decorator fabrics. A circle of stiff interfacing or a double layer of fused felt could also be used if buckram is not available.
  • ONE 1¼" button for the center accent; Elaine used Glamour Gems 5221 from the Blumenthal Lansing Company
  • ONE 4¾" circle of felt in a color to coordinate with the ribbon to cover the back of the cockade (optional); Elaine used burgundy
  • Ruler
  • Seam gauge
  • Scissors
  • Hand sewing needle
  • All-purpose thread to match the ribbon and the optional felt
  • Straight pins
  • Fray Check  

Make the outer ribbon loops

  1. Cut the buckram (or similar) into a 4¾" diameter circle. 
  2. Cut sixteen 3" lengths of the ⅝" ribbon (Pink Filigree from the Hapi collection by Amy Butler for Renaissance Ribbons in our sample).
  3. Fold each ribbon length in half, wrong sides together, creating a loop. Pin to hold the loop in place. 
  4. Evenly position and pin the loops around the edge of the buckram circle. The loops should extend about ¾" beyond the edge of the circle. 
  5. Use small stitches (a slip stitch works well) to hand stitch each loop to the buckram circle. 

Make the inner ribbon loops

  1. Cut sixteen 4" lengths of the ⅞" ribbon (Yellow/Pink/Blue Mosaic by Amy Butler for Renaissance Ribbons in our sample).
  2. To make a petal loop, place a ribbon length on your work surface wrong side up. Position a pin at the center of each length. 
  3. Fold the left side of the ribbon down to the right. The point of the fold should meet the center pin. 
  4. Fold the right side of the ribbon down to the left, overlapping the ends. The center pin is at the top of the loop. Reposition the pin to hold the loop in place. 
  5. Place the first petal loop in place on the buckram circle, centering it between two outer loops. Pin to hold it in place. Use small stitches to hand sew the petal loop to the buckram circle. 
  6. Continue to make petal loops with the remaining 4" ribbon lengths. Position and stitch each petal loop between the outer loops, as you did with the first loop, until you have created an entire inner circle of evenly-spaced petal loops. They will overlap one another around this inner circle.

Make center rosette

  1. Fold the 2" ribbon in half (Pink Blossom Pyramid from the Hapi collection by Amy Butler for Renaissance Ribbons in our sample), right sides together. 
  2. With doubled thread and small running stitches, sew the cut ends together to form a hand-sewn ¼" seam, creating a ribbon circle. Secure the thread at the edge, but do not cut. To prevent the ribbon ends from raveling, place a line of Fray Check along the edges of the seam allowance. 
  3. With the same thread (remember, you didn't cut it after tying the knot above), sew long running stitches close to one edge of the ribbon. 
  4. Pull up the stitches to gather the rosette tightly in the center. Knot the thread to hold the gathers in place and away trim excess thread. 
  5. Hand sew the rosette to the center of the buckram circle. Also sew a few stitches around the rosette to make sure all the raw edges of the inner ribbon loops are completely covered. 

Finish the cockade

  1. Hand sew a button through the center of the rosette to cover up the remaining center hole in the overlapped ribbons.
  2. The finished cockade can be sewn or glued directly onto your project. Or, if desired, a circle of felt can be slip stitched to the back of the cockade, covering the buckram circle and all the hand stitches. 

Designed by Elaine Schmidt, author of How to Make 100 Ribbon Embellishments



Comments (5)

Barb R. said:
Barb R.'s picture

You never cease to amaze us with your absolutely wonderful ideas and tutorials.  And you always so generously introduce us to so many creative talented people that we may never find on our own.

Thank you so much!!  

(I've said it before, but it bears repeating-- I Love Sew4Home!!!)

Maureen the Budget Queen said:
Maureen the Budget Queen's picture

Wow, I am in awe, methinks this may be just the right decorative touches for a princessy 6 yr old grandaughter who is moving to a new house and wants a more big girl room in pink and aqua.  Am going to preview more ideas and think about buying the book.  thanks for great ideas!

Rosemary Bolton said:
Rosemary Bolton's picture

Oh my goodness. This is the prettiest thing ever!

Wonderful thank you so much for sharing this Elaine

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