Controlling Silk Satin Ribbon


Baby’s Breath Dress

Editor’s Note: From Dec. 8-19, we’ll be celebrating the holiday season in a number of fun ways — from project tutorials to gift ideas and more. We’ll also keep you in the loop about our 12 Days of Deals sale happening in our online store, so be sure to check back each day for all the updates!

‘Tis the season for sewing special holiday garments, and this gorgeous ballet-inspired dress designed by Sue Pennington Stewart is sure to make any little girl feel like a princess. The white-on-white creation of silk organza, silk dupioni and silk satin ribbon is the sleeveless variation of Sue’s “Baby’s Breath” pattern (sizes 2-12), available to purchase as a kit in our online store. If you’ve ever worked with two silky or slippery fabrics, you know how difficult it can be to maintain precision and control. Such is the challenge when aligning stripes of ribbon evenly and accurately. Try Sue’s tried-and-true tips below, featured in the November/December 2012 edition of Sew Beautiful, for successfully controlling and stitching silk satin ribbon on any project:

Supplies You Will Need:

  • Silk satin ribbon
  • Fine cotton thread
  • Fusible thread
  • Non-stick pressing sheet
  • Water-soluble basting tape
  • Water-soluble glue stick
  • Temporary spray adhesive
  • Water-soluble stabilizer
  • 100 size universal needle

Keep in mind:

There are several options for the accurate placement and basting of ribbon stripes. Ribbon is basically a tightly woven lengthwise strip of fabric, and lengthwise grain tends to want to pucker. In addition, and in this case, it will be stitched to a cross grain piece of fabric, the skirt, and this difference in “stretchiness” can cause difficulties. Add to that the slippery nature of silk satin ribbon, and it is obvious that before stitching ribbon, it must be temporarily attached to the skirt fabric by a method more secure than simple pinning. In all cases, do not stretch the ribbon or try to pull it taut as you position it; keep it as relaxed as possible. For best results, the strips of ribbon will be stitched along the upper edge only.

Options for Washable Garments:

Glue Stick – Use a water-soluble glue stick to temporarily secure the ribbon (be sure to place a press cloth, or better, a non-stick pressing sheet or a piece of parchment paper, beneath the organza so the piece doesn’t end up glued to your ironing board!) Press to dry the glue. Straight stitch with fine thread close to the upper edge of the ribbon (you may pin stitch later for a decorative edge).

Basting Tape – Use water-soluble basting tape to temporarily secure the ribbon. Straight stitch with fine thread close to the upper edge of the ribbon.

Options for Washable or Non-Washable Garments:

Temporary Adhesive Spray (Sulky™ KK2000®) – Spray the wrong side of the ribbon and position the ribbon in place on the organza. This is better than spraying the organza and then applying the ribbon, as the presser foot will stick to the organza when stitching. Straight stitch with fine thread close to the upper edge of the ribbon. Remember that this disappears by air in a few days, so do not try to wash out.

Fusible Thread – Wind fusible thread onto a bobbin; use fine cotton thread in the needle. Stitch very close to the edge of the ribbon. With the fusible thread side down, position the ribbon on the organza and press to fuse the bobbin thread to the organza. Place a non-stick pressing sheet or a piece of parchment paper beneath the organza so the fusible doesn’t go through the organza and fuse the piece to your ironing board! This is a water-soluble product, but will not show once stitched, so it is an ideal method for a fine garment that will not be washed.


Pin Stitching Pointers From A Pro:

Silk organza and ribbon may be pin stitched after the straight stitching is complete. NOTE: If synthetic organza or ribbons are used, simply straight stitch the ribbon in place along the upper edge with matching thread; pin stitching is not likely to yield good results on synthetics.

• Use a 100 or 110 universal needle. Do not use a wing needle in this instance.

• Use very fine cotton or silk thread, and a pin stitch (L = 2.5 – 3.0; W = 1.5).

• Stitch so that the forward-and-backward motion of the stitch is in the organza only, and the side-to-side motion of the stitch just barely bites into the ribbon.

• Do not use a tear-away stabilizer, as it is nearly impossible to remove all the stabilizer, and it will show through the sheer organza. If the garment will be machine or hand washed, you may use a water-soluble stabilizer if you feel it aids in the stitching process. With or without stabilizer, slow down your stitch speed when pin stitching.

And Don’t Forget:

After stitching, steam press from the wrong side, gently stretching out any puckers as you press.


Have you shopped our 12 Days of Deals sale? Today (Dec. 9) we are featuring deep discounts on overstock kits (including the “Baby’s Breath Dress Kit” featured above). Click here to shop all kits!

Happy Sewing,



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