Sunday, 25 October 2015

How to make a pleated ribbon cockade

Following on from last week's post, here are my notes on making a pleated ribbon cockade.

Any sort of reasonably firm ribbon can be used, although I wouldn't recommend starting with a slippery satin, as it would be difficult to control. For my suffragette cockade I used petersham ribbon for the outer part, and grosgrain ribbon for the inner. The difference? Both are woven with a distinctive ridge across them, but grosgrain has smooth edges, whereas petersham has distinct loops. It is the extra 'give' which these loops provide which allow petersham to be pressed into curves.

Grosgrain (top) and petersham ribbons

For my purple cockade I used 1.8m / 2yds of 2.5cm / 1" wide ribbon. The finished cockade was approximately 9cm / 3½" wide.

Step 1 - Start off by folding under the raw end of the ribbon, about 0.6cm / ¼". Then fold the edge over diagonally and sew along the bottom edge, through all three layers of ribbon, with small running stitches. The thread must end at the point, otherwise the next step won't work.

Step 1 completed - raw edge tucked in, end folded over and sewn down

Step 2 - Fold the long end of the ribbon down diagonally, leaving a small gap in the centre as indicated by the arrows.

Step 2 completed - second fold made, leaving a gap in the centre

Step 3 - Fold the long section on top of the short section. This is why the gap is needed, to allow the fold to lie smoothly. Sew the two corners together with a small overcast stitch.

Step 3 completed - the corners brought together and stitched

Step 4 - Fold the long end diagonally again, this time to the left, again leaving a small gap.

Step 4 completed - the next diagonal fold

Fold the long end upwards, and make another small overcast stitch at the point to hold the fold in place. The ribbon will now look as it did once step 1 was completed

Step 5 completed - folded together again, and stitched

Keep repeating steps 2 to 5 until the cockade is as full as you want it. This would usually be about 30 points, but will be far fewer if you are using velvet ribbon as it is thicker. There is no need to sew through all the folds every time; just through the previous two or three will be enough to secure the most recent fold.

To finish off the cockade, slip the end of the ribbon through the first point. Pull it tight, sew it in place, and trim off the excess ribbon.

Finishing off

You can leave the cockade as it is, or press it flatter, either by hand or using a iron and press cloth.

Finally, fill the centre of the cockade with a button or bead.

You don't have to sew the pleated ribbon into a circle. This piece was so long that it would make several circles over. It has a wonderful sculptural effect, and could be stitched together to make an amazing hairpiece.


  1. These look great, so striking. Perfect for a hairpiece

  2. I am new at this, I am needing to make some for my sister and I, we are in a Scottish clan. And I really need step by step instructions for dummies. I am not good at this. I bought a cockade at our highland games but would like some larger. By looking at the cockade I bought it looks complicated. Can I please get some instructions with more detail. I would be glad to purchase this from you. I am desperate. Thank you, Kim

  3. Hi Kim, Sorry but without knowing what sort of cockade you want to make I can't really help. There are lots of videos on cockade-making on YouTube, which hopefully will give you some pointers.

  4. I love your tutorial. Thanks for sharing. I have made many already, instructions from the Sew Beautiful magazine Issue No 145 Nov/Dec 2012.

  5. I saw the hexagon cockade and would love to learn how to make it. Do you know where I might find instructions? Have tried google with no luck.

    1. I have put a tutorial on the blog -