Cotton-Ribbon-(1)-WIn New York’s Garment District, there are two stores that take the prize for the most comprehensive selection of embroidery ribbons: Mokuba Co., Ltd and Tinsel Trading Company. At Alabama Chanin, we happen to purchase the cotton tape that we use for embroidery from Mokuba, who supplies us with gorgeous ribbons and other notions made in Japan. I have visited Mokuba many times in search of the perfect ribbons and always found a more than exquisite selection.

This week for DIY Thursday, we would like to share instructions on the ribbon embroidery used as an embellishment in our newest book. In Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, we introduce ribbon embroidery with 100% Cotton Tape as a beautiful way to add delicate dimension to your projects and garments. (Color card available here.) We have been using this technique since 2002, when I began using ribbon embroidery for our collections. This ribbon creates a sophisticated, old-world effect and gives the garment a unique sculptural quality. Below, we share the steps to create this detail, using the Climbing Daisy stencil.

In Chapter 8 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, we feature seven Fabrics + Fabric Maps. These detailed “maps” show you exactly how to create the fabrics, including the placement of every stitch, appliqué, and bead.

“Climbing Daisy is our homage to ribbon embroidery, which uses ribbon rather than thread or embroidery floss to stitch a design. You can actually use ribbon embroidery for any stitches in this book.”

To create Climbing Daisy with 100% Cotton Tape embroidery-

Stencil fabric using Climbing Daisy from page 132 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, enlarged by 200 percent, or download the stencil full-size from our Studio Books Resources to print.

Stitch larger petal shapes using 100% Cotton Tape and large-eyed embroidery needle.

Create French Knots (see page 75) with the cotton tape at the center of petal shapes and along stems.

Stem-stitch (see page 85) long, curving stems using embroidery floss.

Repeat process until you have stitched each of your stenciled shapes.

You can visit our Fabric + Sewing store to purchase the 100% Cotton Tape in 10 yard lengths. It is available in nine colors. The white is my current favorite color – but this is most likely as we are working on a new bridal collection at the moment.  I have always said that it is strange how the “current collection” is always my favorite.

Try our Ribbon Embroidered Short Fitted Skirt.

P.S.: And here is a view from the back:


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Click to read 21 comments
  1. Martha

    Also, how do you care for a garment with ribbon embroidery? Does it require special laundering? I don’t imagine it can be pressed…. Any recommendations? Thanks.

    1. Alabama Post author

      Although our labels read “Wash Gently + Hang to Dry,” I wash all of my personal pieces in the washing machine on the gentle cycle and have also been known to throw them in the dryer. The ribbon embroidery pieces are no different.


  2. Amy Hall

    I wondered what you used for the embroidery. I have always loved silk ribbon embroidery, embellished my daughter’s wedding dress with it, but I had not considered (until now) using cotton tape. That kind of embroidery is gratifying because it works up fairly quickly and looks so good.
    I am looking forward to receiving your book for my birthday which, unfortunately, doesn’t come until April!

  3. amisha

    This is such a beautiful technique! I’m really looking forward to trying it.
    Is there a rule of thumb for estimating how much yardage of the cotton tape is required to do this work on a dress / skirt/ etc? Thank you!

  4. Erin

    Thank you for the look at the back! It looks so lovely, I am looking forward to trying this out… and I’m much relieved to hear that it’s possible to put this in the washer on gentle, for some reason I dread handwashing. I really love the contrasting colours.

  5. Laurence

    Thank you for adding the photo of the back, it is not quite as beautiful as the front but is definitly as inspiring!

    Without knowing I would have felt uncomfortable using this on a piece that would have a visible reverse side, but now I’m thining it could add some depth, maybe with a different colour back and the embroidery going through both sides.? mmm.. what am I going to do this weekend? 😀

  6. Kim Bennett

    I was wondering if the white cotton tape can be dyed and approximately how many yards it would take to do the climbing daisy pattern all over a full length skirt.
    By the way your journal entry is the first thing I read every morning. Love it. Can’t wait to meet you in April in Portland.

  7. June

    Thank you for the kind words! It’s the first thing we read every morning too – smile.

    We would recommend 300 yards to complete a full length skirt- what a beautiful idea for a project!

    We’re looking forward to our upcoming travels + workshops, and meeting new friends too.

    For those of you who haven’t signed up already, there’s still time to join us:

  8. Martha

    What type and size needle do you recommend. Also, do you typically work on a single thickness of cotton jersey, or double. I had a devil of a time working on a double thickness with a size 20 embroidery needle. Thanks!

  9. Jean

    What colors fabric, floss, and ribbon did you use on the above image (the one with brown/cream contrast)? Love love love your company! Thank you.