Following the Greats!


“Bless her heart!”  She used a hand-gathering thread to ease the straight, inflexible ribbon to make it fit on the curved shape of the skirt of her dress, when all she had to do was this easy sewing trick! (WHO has the patience for that??)

Children’s Corner ‘Lillian’ has been a staple dress that we just can’t get enough of!  It’s simply classic and easy to embellish or just as well left plain.  But how do you attach lovely straight edged taffeta, jacquard, grosgrain or satin ribbons to a curved skirt?  Lillian is so well suited for 3 graduated rows of ribbon – but ribbons that aren’t suited for a curved line in a skirt! I refused to hand baste a gathering thread to each row of ribbon, so I didn’t make the dress for 15 years!

15 years ago, on a fabric buying NY trip, I was inspired by a sweet, simple and classic little dress. It has been in the back of my mind for all of this time, believe it or not! Classic clothes never seem to go out of style, do they?  The dress that so inspired me was white, sleeveless, simple – with 3 rows of graduated width red and white striped grosgrain ribbon sewn above the hemline. Each row had a little flat bow sewn to the left of the center front. Over the years, I stocked the ribbons in various colors – but never made the dress. 

Now that there are young ladies around here to actually wear the garments that float around in my mind, I am inspired to put the dreams into action. So – the ribbons don’t HAVE to be grosgrain stripes! Pink and white taffeta gingham ribbons would be perfectly pretty!


….I love to watch technique teachers. They have a way of making the hardest exercises look effortless or using a notion that ‘cuts corners’ to simplify a difficult process. Time lapsed and one day I watched as Cindy Foose casually used this simple “scrunch” method to slightly ease a pattern piece.  Not much ease was needed to follow the slight curve of the skirt of “Lillian”, but a curve was definitely important.  Holding my index finger behind the presser foot, I sewed along the edge of the ribbon, letting the ribbon scrunch-bunch between the presser foot and my finger.  That created just enough ease to make the necessary curve to fit the skirt shape!  You can see in the picture below on the right the difference between the straight ribbon and the slightly curved ribbon.

  Measuring up from the hem, I marked the first line for the bottom ribbon placement, pinned it in place (or – you could use a Sewline Glue Pen, recommended by Connie Palmer, to glue it in place), and sewed my first row. I measured between each row, one at a time, sewed in place, giving equal distances of space between each row.

121716-3-rows-4Bows look best when professionally tied, and on this outfit the finish was in having a ‘perfectly poised’ bow. Connie Palmer taught me how to always have a perfectly straight bow… This is such an amazing trick (Connie knows hundreds of amazing tricks!) –
1. Find the center of the “bow” ribbon & place the center perpendicular to the sewn row of ribbon, and sew across the ribbon horizontally – left to right – (this will look like a cross).  The ribbon will be going up and down… and it will seem weird!
2. Tie the bow normally, and the bow will be in perfect position!
3. Trim ends to desired length.
4. We played with the bow placement, and decided we preferred the off-set placement the best.

Dress kit available here!



Two of the GREATS!!  Cindy Foose and Connie Palmer
Thanks ladies for these tips and so many others!

4 thoughts on “Following the Greats!

  1. Kim H says:

    I love this tutorial! I have been fortunate to have taken lots of sewing instruction from Connie Palmer, and not only is she a gold mine of tips and tricks, but she is also a beautiful person!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jennbenn says:

    This is beautiful and classic, I love it! I am trying to see how you attached the ribbon to the dress? The stitch looks very dainty and clean?! Thank you for this post,I love it!


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