Ribbon Shopping

Yesterday, Danielle and I made an appointment to meet at M+J trimming to buy ribbon to make a bag to hold her chuppah.   For those of you who are not familiar with Jewish ritual, this is not a usual thing.


Danielle, ( who I think of as the Wonder Bride, because she is the mellowest bride I have ever met) is planning to have her chuppah  be used by lots of her relatives over the years.  Such a chuppah, I suppose, could live inside a pillow case. Danielle thought it would be really nice to have a bag to hold the chuppah and an album  to hold photos of all of the brides and grooms that use the chuppah over the next many, many years.

I don’t remember why we decided to construct the bag out of ribbon, but it’s what we decided to do.  We did decide to meet at M+J because it’s easy to find and has a large stock of ribbons.


I got there early mostly because I have inherited a bit (!) of the nervous Nellie family trait of usually overestimating how long it takes to get places. I decided to use my time well and check out the other trim stores on 38th street.


I am not going to tell you how if we had done this trip ten or twenty or thirty years ago there would have been so many more and better  trimming and ribbon stores.   There still are a few trimming stores left on 38th Street.

I noticed that Manny’s Millinery had changed it’s name to Manny’s Trading Company. They were, sadly, selling off their stock. I used to be a regular shopper at Manny’s. They were always nice to me, even when I was young and knew nothing about sewing.

I asked the staff how much they were charging for a full roll of wide grosgrain ribbon. The  $25 seem like a good deal. I bought the roll.


I met the Wonder Bride a few minutes later with my roll of blue grosgrain. M+J was charging $8.50 a yard for the ribbon. I had a 50 yard roll in my backpack ad was feeling pretty pleased with myself.


Danielle, the wonder bride liked the grosgrain as well.  we did play out several other possible color combinations. Suppose the bag was constructed out of soft ivories and taupes?  It looked beautiful but we bowed to the reality of schmutz. We then looked at pale blue textured ribbons.  the hard thing about ribbon with color and texture is that sometimes the color combinations are not really what you want.


Both of us  fell completely in love with the wide embroidered ribbon in blues and maroons. That stuff is amazing. But at $40/yard we both managed to keep our heads.


Both Danielle and I come from New England and have great fondness for plaid ribbon.  We also both realized that what looks great in New England often looks just plain silly in New York. We admired but passon on the idea.

Being at M+J is like being in a candy store when you are five. Part of the joy of being there is the joy of seeing so much to choose from. Finally, Danielle found a ribbon she loved, a blue and gold composite ribbon. I bought four yards.

We decided that the bag needed to be made out of multiple widths of ribbon.  I suggested that I see if Manny’s had any rolls of narrower dark blue ribbon for sale.


I went back this morning. the didn’t have grosgrain, but they did have dark blue satin. as Danielle left me yesterday she said to me, “ You are the artist, I trust you. “  I decided to go with that rust and buy the sain ribbon.


After I got home I began to embroider the ribbon.

Here are the two ribbons, the grosgrain and the satin.The colors are pretty close to identical.


I embroidered the ribbon in various ways to see how it looked. you can see the composite ribbon in the background. 100_2975

Yes, the embroidered ribbon will look better once it is pressed, but it looks pretty good even un-pressed.100_2973100_2976100_2977

This is a crazy amount of fun to work out.


  1. What a wonderful idea! Are you making the chuppa as well?

  2. I am making the chuppah as well. You can see some of the progress here http://sewnewyork.blogspot.com/2012/08/working-while-sick.html or you can look for the posts tagged " Danielle's chuppah"

  3. My sharp eyed friend Martha-Anne noticed a bit of tunneling under the embroidery, that is a gathering of the ribbon under the embroidery. Martha Anne suggested that I slip some paper under the ribbon, adding machine tape is perfect for this, to support the ribbon. Of course Martha Anne is right. The tunneling here is slight and will be fixed easily with some good pressing with steam. I hate picking out the paper bits more than I do ironing.


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