Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ribbon birds tutorial!

Hey folks! How's the holiday season treating everyone? I'm feeling very holiday-happy after finishing half my handmade gifts for this year and listening to some rockin' holiday tunes on Pandora. 

Ok, after last week's crafty failure I felt the need to do a tutorial this week. So today, I'm going to share with you how to make ribbon birds. When my husband saw that I was going to share this on the blog he was fairly scandalized. 
"What?!? You're sharing the birds?!? But that's, you know ... a family secret!!"
Given that reaction, you know these are good. I won't pretend they're the easiest things in the world the first time, though. So if you decide to give this a try, just stick with it, ok?

Now, my mom taught me how to make these 20 years or so ago (gulp!). She learned from my uncle, who I've heard learned while working at a department store gift wrapping booth. All you need is scissors, a tiny bit of tape, and some plastic ribbon like this. (You'll want the non-metallic type or they look a little funky.) I usually go with 3/4" or 1" ribbon.

Right. This is going to be pretty picture-heavy and hopefully I'll even add a video later. Here we go...

Cut 3 feet of ribbon.
Fold in half and cut into 2 equal pieces.
Fold both pieces over, about 3" from the end and crease both.

Cut each ribbon into 4 equal pieces, but only up to the crease mark. I recommend cutting in half, then each of those in half.
Hold the uncut part of the ribbon facing you, curling down. Take the far left piece, fold it away from you until it's perpendicular to the other strips and pinch it flat. Now weave it so that it goes over the strip next to it, under the second, over the third. Now take the new left strip, fold it away from you the way, pinch it perpendicular, then weave it over the strip next to it, under the last.
I'm now going to use one white ribbon, one blue, to show the difference. Take the second ribbon, hold the uncut part of the ribbon facing you, this time curling up. Repeat the above instructions.

Lay the two ribbons over each other, so the wings are perpendicular and both curve up.

Weave the strips into a square, following the pattern started near the uncut sections.

Put a small piece of tape over this square.

Ok, this part is a bit tricky. Take the opposite pairs of strips, curve them back towards each over in an oval. Weave the strips into a small square and secure with a tiny piece of tape.Make sure you're following the same weave pattern, so if a strip just went under in the large square on top, it now needs to go over in the little square.

Another view of the square formed.

Hopefully you can see how the strips curl around and meet each other. Repeat for the two opposing pairs of strips.

Now overlap the squares and weave the strips into an over-under square.

You can put on another piece of tape here if you feel the need.

Ok, now this was hard to get pictures of, so read the description then look at all the pictures. Take each strip at a time, and weave it toward the neck or tail (depending on what it's near). Each piece will curve a bit, then go through 2 strips.
In this one, the two blue ones on the right curved down and were woven through the two white ones.

Here's what the bottom looks like after you've woven in all eight strips.

So, now you have two sets of four strips; one set coming out of each end.Now carefully remove all the tape.

Gently pull the strips tighter, together and one at a time, until the bottom tightens up and the strips are close together with no real gaps.

Here's the view from the top after tightening.

Stack up the four strips at the front, then wrap around your fingers as shown.

Tuck the ends through. This is basically a simple knot.

Pull until mostly tight, then pinch tightly.

Trim excess strips off into a beak.

Hold the wings up together and trim. (Either direction.)


Here's one all in white. It also has the wings trimmed in the other direction.

Another view.

Another on the tree shot.
Whew! That's it! I make tons of these during the holidays. I put them on my tree, top gifts with them, and even give them as presents. It's one of my favorite Christmas crafts (though I make them all year) and I don't think a tree is complete without them.

I hope some of you give it a try! I'll try and come back with better pictures, and maybe a video later. Bonus points to the reader who can name what other post they've seen one in!

I hope you've been enjoying our crazy holiday sales, and that you've got some holiday magic running around your house.



  1. We have the red one you made us sitting on our tree right now. :D

  2. Nice job, Cady!! It's really hard to explain in two dimensions, and hard to photograph, too.....and using two colors was a great idea. <3

    1. Thanks! I still think I'll maybe add a video one day, but this came out a little better than I expected, honestly!

  3. Cady, I should set the record step 3 I use a piece of tape across the ribbon to mark the point where the four strands stop, I don't make a crease. But viva la difference and it's cool we each develop our own styles! Love, Mom

    1. Yep, I remember using tape, but it's not visual enough for me. I tended to just cut through the tape also!