Photo Credit:  Wendy Grande Photo Credit: Wendy Grande

Ribbon Applique

Ribbon Applique is an applique technique that uses ribbon in place of fabric. Ribbon applique is often used in conjunction with Ribbon Embroidery and hand embroidery stitches. Ombre ribbons can be used in most Baltimore Album style applique quilts instead of fabric. The lush colors and shading of the ombre ribbons work well when creating birds and flowers and easily mix with other fabrics. Ribbons of all types can be woven, stitched, folded and ruched into beautiful flowers, birds and baskets. They can also be sewn as frames around blocks. Ribbon embroidery is commonly used in Baltimore Album style and Traditional style quilts but also makes it's appearance in modern or contemporary quilts. The border of quilt shown here was done with blue and gold 7mm ribbon silk using hand embroidery back stitches.

Benefits of Ribbon Applique

  • Ribbon Applique adds a dimensional element to applique designs when combined with embroidery stitches.
  • Ruching with ribbon is far easier than with cotton. The edges are finished and the ribbon gathers easily.
  • Ribbon applique uses hand embroidery stitches and 4mm or 7mm silk ribbon which is stitched directly on the background fabric. This technique reduces the time it takes to hand applique motifs to a quilt. Consider one 1/2" straight stitch with silk ribbon versus needle turn applique of a 1/2" leaf in cotton or 30 seconds compared to 5 minutes.
  • The ribbon ends can be quickly anchored with a back stitch into the backs of other ribbons or behind appliqued elements.
  • Ribbon applique uses the beautiful colors and textures of silk ribbon, moire ribbon, ombre ribbons and hand dyed ribbons.

Tools and Supplies for Ribbon Applique

  • Ribbons - silk ribbon in 4 mm, 7 mm and 11mm can be used with vintage ombre ribbons and seam binding.
  • Rayon Seam Binding can also be used for Ribbon Applique
  • Matching threads when the ribbon is used as an option to fabric.
  • Chenille needles in sizes 18 to 22 or more depending on the ribbon.
What I Wish I Knew When I Started - Ribbon Applique

Antique shops and fairs are a great place to source vintage ribbons and Stationary Stores often carry a great variety of ribbon that works well for RIBBON APPLIQUE.

Look through old sewing boxes and at Craft Fairs for Rayon Seam Binding. The sizes and colors are perfect for Ribbon Applique.

Be sure to test the needle with ribbon for embroidery. Thread the needle, rub the eye of the needle and ribbon between your finger and thumb. You should "feel" more needle than ribbon. If you "feel" more ribbon than needle - get a bigger needle or it will be difficult to pull through the fabric and the ribbon will get shreadded. The larger needle will be easier for you to use and the ribbon will fill the hole.

Ribbon Applique Resources