What is Grosgrain Ribbon?

Grosgrain? What is that, can I eat it?

grosgrain ribbon stitch closeup diagram
A thicker weft creates distinct ribs in the fabric which resemble a fine cord.

No you cannot eat it, well I suppose you can eat anything, but let’s just say you don’t wan’t to eat it because, well, it’s a type of fabric. A type of fabric known specifically for it’s unique ribbed appearance. You see, when it comes to grosgrain ribbon, the weft – the thread which is drawn horizontally, is heavier than the warp –  the vertical threads which said weft is drawn through. This creates a distinct ribs which resemble fine cords in the fabric. Grosgrain is a very strong, firm and close-woven fabric; and while grosgrain fabric is typically black, grosgrain ribbon comes in a large variety of colors and patterns.

green chalkboard banner with stacked rolls of colorful grosgrain ribbon

Grosgrain in history.

Grosgrain dates back to the 17th century where it was used as the fabric for many garments such as, jackets, waistcoats, petticoats, breeches, sleeves, jerkins and much more. Typically, it was used as a cheaper alternative than fine-woven silk or wool. In the late 19th century factories in American began to produce grosgrain silk. Eventually, around the 1920’s, grosgrain clothing was all but phased out and the fabric would find it’s legacy within ribbon.

red breeches with gold buttons on beige background
Grosgrain Breeches, try these on for size.
brown vest with row of brown buttons on mannequin with white long sleeve shirt
That must take forever to button.

 Respect the ribbon.

Grosgrain ribbon is colorful in ways that ordinary grosgrain fabric could never accomplish, such as complimenting or decorating clothing. Contrary to shiny silk or satin, grosgrain is seen as less gaudy or flashy, giving it appeal to those who prefer style in modesty. It can be used to alter shirts, skirts, dresses or even shoes. Use it as a bow in your hair, or jazz up a simple throw pillow, the possibilities are endless.

green grosgrain ribbon twisted in shamrock design hanging on brown twine
Grosgrain (sham)rocks!
crewcuts cream flats with blue and green grosgrain ribbon stripes
That’s a wrap!
rainbow striped colored pillow cushion
Grosgrain, throw it on a pillow!

Author: Nick Hodgins

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