Sunday, December 02, 2012

Whimsey stick ribbon flowers

I don't watch Martha Pullen's show as much as I used to.  In fact, I hardly watch it at all these days, as I'm not sewing terminally cute little girl clothing nor am I doing much heirloom embroidery. 

However, I was surfing through the TV shows being aired recently and came across "Martha's Sewing Room" again.  I was finishing up a quilt and decided it would be a good background filler.

I was quickly sucked in when one of the segments featured Kari Mecca of "Kari Me Away" designs.  The segment featured how to make ribbon roses ... by sewing machine!

If you've ever tried to make ribbon roses the traditional way (folding, twisting, ad naseum), you'll know that such roses, while beautiful, are time-consuming and can be frustrating.  Kari has developed a technique to produce a similar looking rose in a much easier manner.

The episode featured is #3403,  titled "Whimsical Trims from a Stick" and was originally aired in 2011.  Kari's segment is 20 minutes in.  From 20 - 26 minutes is instruction on how to make a single loop flower; from 29 - 32 minutes is a demo on how to make the double loop trim and flower.  It is very, very easy!  Do a Google search on "whimsical trims from a stick" and you'll find lots of hits.  I couldn't find a site that would allow you to watch the episode for free.  You can, however, buy the episode.

Kari has also developed a tool she calls "Whimsy sticks" to help you make the flowers and trim.  But I don't have those specific sticks.  By watching her demo and seeing how it works, I determined that I could find some make-shift supplies and I did.

Her Whimsy sticks are acrylic bars, 1/2", 3/4", 1", 1-1/4" wide  and 17" long.  Well, I had some Celtic bias bars that would substitute.  I don't have the wider widths, but I do have a bar 1/2" wide.  I also had a clear ruler that was 2" wide.  I could, at the very least, experiment!

What I didn't have was the exact instructions of what width ribbon, how long to cut the ribbon and which width bar works with what width ribbon.  I imagine that information is included in the Whimsy stick packaging.  After all, why should she give away *all* the information?

From my ribbon stash, I picked out some 3/8" ribbon and used my 1/2" bar.  Following the Martha's Sewing Room demo, I made my own ribbon roses!  Dang, but they turned out so cute!

For the single-loop flowers:
You wrap the ribbon around the stick (tip from Kari: just hold the ribbon in one hand, secure one end of the ribbon at the top of the bar then turn THE BAR to wrap the ribbon around the bar.  That is much easier than physically wrapping *the ribbon*).  Then you secure the wraps with a strip of low-tack tape down the center of the wraps, on both sides of the stick.  She uses 1/4" Tiger Tape but I didn't have any of that.  What I did have was 1" low-tack blue painter's tape.  I simply cut 1/4" wide strips. 

Remove the tape at the top of the ribbon and slide the wrapped ribbon off the stick.  The low-tack tape will keep all the loops in place.  Then you edge-stitch very close to the fold of the ribbon.  Look closely at the picture on the left; at the bottom edge, you'll see a line of straight stitching (in white thread).  There is no stitching along the top edge.
Remove the low-tack tape. 

Voila .. a single loop strip!  Now, loosely wrap the strip around itself, while holding the base in your fingers.  Secure the base with some hand-stitches.  I backed my flowers with some leaves made with grosgrain ribbon, but you could just as easily put it on a pin-back or a button form or a circle of felt.

For double-loop flowers:
There is a very useful YouTube video from Kari to watch on this.    The basic technique is the same .. wrap a wider ribbon on a wider stick. (I used 1-1/2" ribbon with my 2" wide ruler.  I don't know what Kari used; she didn't say.) 

Instead of putting just one strip of low-tack tape down the center, you put *two* strips down the edges .. don't forget to tape each side of the stick! 

(oh a note ... this "silver" ribbon was originally a wired-edge ribbon. That won't work with this technique.  To use it, I simply removed the wire from the edge.  It slips out easily.)

Then, you stitch a line of straight stitches down the middle .. but slightly offset.  My ruler was 2" wide, so I stitched at 1-1/4" away from one side.

Remove the low-tack tape from one side of the ribbon and *fold* the ribbon on the line of stitching.  You will see two rows of loops, staggered.  Edge-stitch close to the fold, as with the single-loop flowers.

Now, make the flowers as before.  Since these flowers are bigger, Kari made a simple knot with a short length of ribbon as the center of the flower and wrapped the double-loop strip around it. 

Because I didn't have the specific information on exact ribbon width and stick width, my double-loop flower didn't turn out as loose as Kari's example. 

My result was a more tightly wrapped flower.  I think it still looks nice but it's not the same as Kari's.


You can also use the loop strips as trim.  Here I put a piping trim against the double-loop strip.  The blue fabric stands for the garment or sewn item.  I didn't have anything in mind when I made this trim, but wanted to "finish it off" to remind myself.  

I forget details so easily these days. :-)


These flowers are just terminally cute! 

Right now, I don't have a real purpose for them, but they sure do use up all those short lengths of ribbon that I just couldn't bear to throw away!  :-)


  1. cute! and fascinating!

    Have you seen the silk ribbon embroidery done on a machine? that is fascinating as well...

  2. No, Suze .. I haven't. Will need to do a Google search on that, although I do enjoy silk ribbon embroidery by hand. :-)