A Little R & R

Lynn Schoeffler © 2008

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Judging by the sheer volume of web sites where you can see Ric Rac projects and instructions, buy and sell Ric Rac, or read about the long history of Ric Rac – it’s a nostalgic favorite with many of us. Ric Rac has been around a long time: an article from About.com* dates an early example from the late 1800’s, when it was called "waved braid."

Recently I was happy to find a few packages of vintage Ric Rac that inspired the little floral motifs above. I love the folk art look of these flowers, and think that they would work well for things like jackets and totes that call for a more sturdy form of embroidery.

Supply List:

  • Tiny, medium and/or jumbo Ric Rac
  • Matching sewing thread
  • Fray check product
  • Embroidery floss for stems

Instructions for the Tulips:

Cut a piece of medium sized Ric Rac with three "peaks" and two "valleys," as shown. Use a fray check product on the cut edges. Sew cut edge of Ric Rac to fabric with a couple of Straight Stitches using matching sewing thread.

Bring opposite cut edge of Ric Rac into position on top of first edge, stitching down with Straight Stitches.

Tack each "valley point" to stem line, slightly over-lapping edges. Use the point of your needle to adjust tulip shape if necessary.

Embroidered stems: I used size three perle cotton, couched along pattern lines.

Instructions for Goldenrod stems:

Thread a needle with green floss (I used Iris weight Edmar rayon thread), and Stem Stitch along pattern line until you get to the first flower position. Cut a piece of tiny yellow Ric Rac with four peaks and four valleys. I varied the color of the original bright yellow with fabric markers.

Starting with the first valley on the right, turn the cut edge of the Ric Rac under and bring the needle up through this fold. Sew a Running Stitch through the next three valley points, turn the left cut edge to the back and stitch through the fold.

Pull the working thread tightly, making three tiny gathers. Push the gathers down the thread, until they are very close to the fabric. With the needle, manipulate the cut edges so that they over-lap on the fabric; tack down with one or two stitches.

Fold gathers up over the top of the cut edges and position in place with tip of needle. The frayed cut edges of the Rac Rac form the fuzzy pistils of the little flowers. Make two or three tack stitches into the gathers to hold the flower in place.

Continue to Stem Stitch along the pattern line, placing tiny flowers as desired.

Instructions for Lupines:

Cut a 3" piece of medium or jumbo Ric Rac—I used a medium size, and colored the original white with blue and purple fabric markers. Vary the size of your flowers by cutting different lengths of Ric Rac. Treat both edges with fray check product.

Fold one cut end of the Ric Rac under and bring matching sewing thread up through the fold. Sew a Running Stitch as shown along the entire length.

Pull the working thread, gathering the Ric Rac to desired length. Even out gathers with the point of the needle. Bring the thread down through the fabric at top of flower, manipulating the top of the flower to cover the cut edge of the Ric Rac. Tack gathered edge of Ric Rac to the fabric at short intervals, pulling the thread tightly to make the Ric Rac stand on edge. At the bottom of the flower, turn the cut edge under and tack so that the edge doesn’t show. Use the point of the needle to distribute gathers if necessary.

For the stem, I used Lola weight Edmar, in Overhand Stem Stitch, and then wrapped the length with another thread for additional depth.



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