Friday, November 07, 2008

A Bit of Colored Ribbon

The first time I came upon a basement of old ribbon, I was on 38th Street in New York City looking for a yard or two of trim. As I walked into So Good, I was greeted by a rather gruff man named Danny who was almost buried underneath the spools of ribbon that were stacked as high as the ceiling. When my charm didn't work on Danny, a young man named Tony came out from the back and asked me what I needed. I tried to explain that I really liked all of their new ribbon but what I was really looking for was the old ribbon. They didn't think they had much. But after a little more prodding, Tony asked Danny if he could take me to the basement. Although this sounds a bit ominous, I knew it meant gold. A bit of haggling and a few rolled eyes between them, Danny finally said yes, "but only to look".
I spent the next six hours "looking" in the basement. Since no one ever came down to check on me, I took it upon myself to start pulling out every old spool I could uncover - stripes, picot, water marked taffeta, grosgrain and silk - everything from 1/2" woven ribbon with red polka dots to 6" black mourning ribbon. I left that day with more than a dozen large brown boxes filled with some of the treasures from So Good's basement.
Since then...all those 15 years ago....I stop in and see Danny and Tony whenever I am in New York, They greet me with a smile and an anticipated look on their face and they always ask "Are you going to the basement again?" - I don't think they ever forgot how excited and overcome I was when they left me down there on my own to rummage through their old stock. Every now and then, I pop down two flights of stairs and take a look around - but the stock has been picked over and replaced with newer items. We reminisce about the good old days and they fill me in on the latest news of the street.
These days, it's not so easy to uncover a basement full of antique ribbon, so I rely more and more on new ribbon dealers, here and in France. Yesterday, a box arrived with over 60 spools - every color of the rainbow. Napoleon said "A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon" - and I couldn't agree with him more.
For a fun weekend giveaway - we will choose two lucky winners who will each receive a box full of beautiful ribbon - their choice of color! Leave a comment below about your favorite bit of colored ribbon and Sofia will choose two lucky winners on Monday, November 10th! Bonne chance!

58 comments:

rainydaywoman said...

Anything red or black - especially checkers.

The chance to acquire vintage trim is a dream - thank you for the chance!

LittleSister said...

I love old ribbons and remember - so fondly - playing with Mom's old buttons & ribbons on a rainy day. Last week, I went into the Ribbon Room at Nancy's on Queen Anne Hill here in Seattle and was just overcome. I hardly new where to begin! If I could (that is, if the husband wouldn't tear MY hair out), I'd string ribbons from every window and chandelier and ceiling fan and lampshade and . . .
Thank you even for the thought of sharing your treasures.

Crystal Burns said...

My favorite part of gift giving is picking the perfect ribbon to accent the package. I love it when people are hesitant to open their gift because they say it's too beautiful!

I think receiveing a package full of ribbon and trim would have to be the greatest gift a person could ever give me! Thank you so much for the chance! Crystal

fromthepines said...

ooooooh I love ribbon. I just found some great vintage stuff and trims at an auction up here! I love anything with texture - lace, velvet.

Cheryl

Northern Quilts; Wenche said...

Old ribbons are a treasure! I have my grandmothers pearl-of-mother-inlaid wooden box with old buttons, belt-rings, small pieces of trim and silk ribbon, collected for use in coming times. And when I look through the box, I am connected to her, to her time and my heritage. My favorite ribbons are those with woven patterns, in dark colours.
Thank you for your thoughts,- they inspire and makes me dream! :-)

PamKittyMorning said...

WOW! I would love a chance at a lovely box full of ribbon!

Simply This and That said...

I can only imagine what it must have been like to see the basement full of ribbon. My heart was beating faster as I was reading. LOL. Red. I LOVE red ribbon. Straight red. Polka dot red. Checkered red. Of course red is my favorite color. But I also think of pink. I love pink to. What a wonderful gift someone will receive in your box of ribbon.

E in England said...

I can think of nothing better than to be a ribbon trader or to have a ribbon room.

My favourite thing is to keep the little bits of hanger ribbon that you find in clothing. Pretty, slender and so feminine...

The ribbon basement sounds like heaven.

E

Susan said...

My love affair with ribbon began when I was hand-sewing doll clothes as a child. I was inspired to try my hand at making them when I saw all the creations some of the mothers made for a sale at a school carnival in the 1950's. My mother bought one of them for me - forest green and white gingham with matching embroidered green and white heart ribbon sewn on as trim. I still have it.

One day after I had my own daughter, my sister, mother and I were shopping at Woolworth's fabric department and I came across a roll of ribbon with pink and orange embroidered ice cream cones and bought the whole thing! It was perfect for a sundress pattern I had for my daughter.

Ribbon is one of my favorite things about French General. I'm a ribbon fanatic - especially in shades of pink. Sheer, grograin, velvet, satin, embroidered - oh my!

I would love to be one of the winners of your gorgeous ribbons!

xo
Susan

Beth said...

I love trims, plain, decorated, embroidered, ribbed, what ever. My favorite colors are sage green and navy blue. I would love a chance at some of this wonderful vintage stuff, what a dream this would be.

Plays with Needles said...

I use vintage ribbon in my needlework. I'm particularly fond of silk, ombre and ruffled or pleated ribbon. In my book, there's no better present than a clear acrylic box full of beautiful vintage ribbon...I've given this as a present more than once! I also love Carolyn Roehm's book Presentations...she uses ribbon beautifully to wrap a package...

Melissa Thornton said...

I loved the ribbon I received in the Halloween package I bought. Can't help but jump at the chance to get more! Thank you.

becky up the hill said...

I've been collecting rick rack and vtg ribbon for a few years. I've never the likes of what you have tho. I loved your basement story. I could read a book of such stories. I wrapped my niece's bridal shower gift in old ribbon years ago. Her sister was helping her sort etc. She touched the old pink ribbon and said, 'oh this is the real thing,' and quickly put it aside. My family knows the good stuff! I love anything green, pink or cream or anything ;o)!

Jill said...

I played many a day in my great aunt's sewing room. She was a seamstress for a little dress shop where they made everything. Another great aunt made the hats for the shop. I've been entranced by ribbon and notions my whole life.My kindergarten graduation dress had a bodice made from wide ribbon- TOO many years ago! LOL. thanks for the chance to win!

The Joy of Nesting said...

Oh how I adore the wonderful muted colors velvet becomes as it ages so gracefully :c} There are very few things I honestly can't "make do" or find a substitute for here. Sadly velevt ribbon is one :c{ It just can't be found in Mexico.

Thank you so much for wanting to share your treasures with your fellow Bloglandians!!

Pattie :c}
Mazatlan Mexico

kargas said...

Enjoyed your story and imagined that I was there too...seeing and fondling all the gorgeous treasures! Keeping my fingers crossed:)....Blue is my favorite!
Kargas

Sallyanne said...

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my special thoughts on ribbon and perhaps win a delightful prize.

I put the first ribbon in my daughter's hair about 30 years ago when she was nine months old...it was Christmas Eve and I used tape to stick a tiny satin red bow to her nearly bald head!

Several years later...when she had cute little corkscrew pigtails...I began what would become a daily ritual for a number of years...tying colorful ribbons in her hair. Whether it was those early pigtails, neat french braids or a bouncy poneytail...there were always lots of ribbons to choose from.

Several dresser drawers were filled with various lengths of colorful streamers! There were satins, velvets, grossgrains and taffetas...in every hue imaginable. And not to be forgotten were the checks, tartan plaids and some embellished with hearts. Together we would carefully choose ribbon to match her outfit and brighten the day.

Eventually the daily bows were outgrown and the ribbons were passed on to a neighbor with two little girls. But my wonderful memories of ribbons does not end there.

Two years ago my daughter...now a beautiful young woman was married. And to my delight her wedding dress was a simple ivory satin ball gown with a beautiful sash. The wide ivory satin ribbon accenting her tiny waist was adorned with hundreds of sparkling Swarovsky crystals on the front. Yet the back was left plain...to be fashioned into a simple bow with long ties.

As her bridesmaids gathered round and helped her into her gown she smiled at me and said..."Let my Mother tie the ribbon".

pam q said...

My mind certainly went into over-drive as I read your post...I could imagine you descending down the stairs & coming out in "Ribbon Wonderland"...like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. With the proverbial "kid in a candy store" look on your face. Such a wonderful picture!

I have an old box of ribbon that was my Grandmother's. She worked behind a millinery/ribbon counter many, many years ago & also lived near New York for awhile. I like to open the box from time to time & finger the ribbons & wonder where they came from... There are a few hanks of glorious steel-cut beads in the box & I also have her buttons. So beautiful! So much pleasure in such tiny treasures!

I enjoy most ribbons & trims---I am especially drawn to the more muted colors. But pink, not so much. HA!

Thanks for your great blog, the chance to ramble on & maybe even win a prize! Cool.

nyvintagechic said...

Oh I love ribbon! Lace too, but that's another subject. If I had to pick just one it would be a beautiful gray silk bit that I found digging through a box at the Vanves flea market in Paris.
It gets moved from place to place and has been tied on everything from a vintage French painting (unearthed in a barn) to vintage dark gray feather plumes from the market at St Ouen in Paris.
Where ever it appears it always makes me smile!

diedre said...

my great grandmother was a milliner. i think it's genetic-this textile ribbon "thing". thanks for entering me into your drawing. one of my daughter's is named sage...hope there's some green in that box of ribbon!

Cathy Wegner said...

I am a ribbon junkie. I keep telling myself "no more ribbon". I just love it and look to use it (my favorites I hoard) whenever possible. I love my leaf ribbon (saw some in your pictures today). I use a little now and then but mostly I just look at it. BTW, I got your new book from Amazon and it's beautiful.

Stella Jack said...

I love textiles and embellishments for fabric. It must have been enchanting to pour through all of the boxes of vintage ribbon - makes me swoon to think of being able to do something like that. Grosgrain, patterned, anything vintage and rick rack are favorites. Thank you Kaari...

Anonymous said...

I was one of those kids who could spend all day in a store ooohhing and aawwing over all the beautiful colors ribbon's come in!!Please take me back to when ribbons were pure heaven!! I would LOVE to have a beautiful assortment of color's if I win, cause who in their right mind could only pick ONE color!!!

Lisa

Jacqueline said...

Wow- gorgeous! You can never have enough ribbon!

Anonymous said...

I just happened upon this blog and I struck gold! I love, love, love ribbon! Any kind, but I must say that cream is my favorite color because you just can't go wrong with cream! Thanks for the chance to win some fabulous goodies!
bianca

L Melohn said...

Wow, wish i could find a basement full of ribbon...

My favorite color is blue!

doris said...

pink and green are super nummy...especially polka dots...it seems like no matter how i feel, if i see a few polka dots it makes me feel a tad better!

leslie janson said...

ohhhhhh...I wouldn't be able to fall asleep without turning it over and over in my head...what to do first with the ribbons....most likely sachets... maybe...as trims on my vintage pillows...maybe...and it would go on like this until I fell asleep not knowing. Then in the morning after letting my unconscious play with ideas overnight, I still wouldn't know. Later that day or the next, I would stumble upon an idea...and suddently, that's IT! (That is my process!)

My fingers are crossed. Thanks.

lesliejanson

Cat Allman, Open Source Team said...

I try to control my passion for old notions, including ribbon, limiting my purchases to vintage double-fold bias tape, rick-rack, and *good* grosgrain, though I do sometimes slip up. (There is a foot or two of ribbon made of pressed and cut leaves in the most alluringly deep fall colors laughing at me from a drawer near by...)

My very favorite piece though is not a purchase, but a gift from my grandmother. When she gave me the sewing machine she'd taught me to sew on, she filled the drawers of the 1906 Singer treadle machine with bits of lace, old buttons, sealing wax, her cut glass inkwell from childhood - all sorts of marvels - including the most meltingly soft silk satin ribbon in a faded, face powder pink. She had been given the ribbon as a little girl by her grandma, so of course she wanted me to have it.

My grandma is gone now, but I can pull out "our" ribbon, and remember her. Thank you for the chance to share her memory.

debi said...

Hi Kaari!
Hope you had a great time while here in Houston! I got my invite from Tinsel, but won't be able to make it since I am getting the store ready for my annual "Christmas on the Bayou" party. Wish I could be there!

I LOVE old ribbon...and yes, it is getting extremely harder and harder to find. Please add me to your "list" and if I win...my colors can either be teals or browns!

xo...debi

Anonymous said...

I love using ribbon for bookmarks--I hem them up at one end with a simple hankerchief stitch and sew on a pretty button left from my mother and grandmother's button boxes--there's a wooden boxful next to the bed for marking special spots. The important thing is finding the right bit of ribbon for the right book...I love fingering them over and remembering where each but came from as I choose. My favorite bit is left from a sash I had at about 4..some 55 years ago. Karen Greenfield

la la said...

i have always loved playing with ribbons - my favorite are thick velvet and burgundy

Stacey said...

So many to choose from... It would have to be a small snippet of brown crushed velvet- A piece that I can never part with!

Clever Karen said...

Just discovered your blog through the Where Women Create magazine article. I think some red ribbon would be wonderful for my Christmas projects.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the chance! I like corals or browns or greens or any color!

Kim Caldwell said...

Such wonderful musings about the good ole' days. Seems the good stuff is always down low. . .

Hugs, Kim

Susan Wilken said...

Oh my! This post brings back memories of me going thru my grandmother's box of old trims and buttons. What a treasure! Thanks for sharing!

The Bishop's Wife said...

Thank you Kaari for your wondrous shop and your blog. I keep up with your adventures and rather much live vicariously through them when it comes to travel abroad and uncovering treasures. You must have the nose of a bloodhound as it seems that your discoveries in unlikely places are almost instinctual. I have dreams about fabric, ribbons, specific room decor of bygone ages, and old jewelry that are so real that it seems strange to awaken with out all the items I view while asleep. I collect vintage fabrics, ribbons, and jewelry and wear and use these items regularly. My best memory of ephemra hunting was a visit with an elderly lady who had heard of my interest and invited me to her home to view her collections. I felt very honored when she presented me with some of her treasured pieces of laces and silk ribbons. I have used some in projects, and others are waitng to be framed and hung in my studio/workroom. Thank you also for the opportunity to write, share life passions, and to take a chance on some of your incredible collections! My color preferences tend toward pinks of all shades, spring greens, and ivory.
gloria

Laura A. said...

So glad you're willing to fight the good fight for us! Those green leaves are gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

I love light green and cream colored ribbon!

Kathy G

suzan said...

My favorite color ribbon is silver blue and brown. When I was a young girl my aunt had a dress shop in NYC. I visited with my mother and grandmother often, as my Aunt made all their fancy clothes My Uncle however was the one who sewed all the sequins, ribbons and pearls onto the clothes. There were boxes and boxes of the most beautiful trim, which I would play with and try to imagine myself as a famous fashion designer. It was such an important part of my girlhood. I still love all of those fancy things!
Thanks Kaari for sharing your stories. I love your blog.

Anonymous said...

What a generous gift and a wonderful
gesture from you! It is good to see
others have the same interests for
the things of the past. I'd be happy
to receive any color ribbon except
red. Sallyanne's post was very
touching, I'd be glad to see her be
a lucky winner. Daughters grow and
spread their wings way to quickly.
Thanks for the chance and enjoy your
daughter every day!

Dollbecky said...

I love ribbon; and am lucky to have friends who give me ribbons the same way some folks send a card :)
Some of my favourite ribbon is a 1.5 inch thick with a slanted stripe in black and white..it was given to me as a birthday gift by a friend who truly understands me ..no card no wrapping just a 5 yard coil of ribbon
My other favourite is a length of tartan ribbon brought back from Scotland in my mother's clan tartan by another dear friend who shares my love of trim & ribbons
We have spent many hours thrifting and then trading bits and pieces of our finds.
I still remember the thrill of finding a bridal store closing down sale while on holiday and when I got home it was the best bit about the trip :P

Saar said...

Love ribbons, braids and old sewing notions. Use them for all sorts of things from clothes and patchwork to cards and tags.Often visit 2nd hand shops and find treasures. Love your books too!
Regards
Sarah
Christchurch
New Zealand

gail said...

Hi,,, I just wanted to stop by and say hello. I saw the article about you in Where Women Create, and its just beautiful. I loved the story of this post. And to happen upon your contest, I am excited. :) I have a favorite place to go here in Tempe, AZ. Its called S.A.S. I have no idea what that stands for but its been here, that I know of, since the 70's. Its like an archaeological expidition every time you go. So much fun.. I also the the "French Inspired Jewelry" book and find so much inspiration. Happy creating,,,gail

joey's mom said...

On Sept. 5th, at the end of the summer in California...my sister and her partner were married on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Our grandmother would have been happy with her granddaughter's choice of life partner. To honor her memory, I washed a piece of blue velvet ribbon (from an old blouse of hers)in the lake and sewed two of grandma Pearl's garters(from an old girdle!) onto her ribbon. I gave it to the happy couple as part of the ceremony...the old and blue were grandma's...the thread was new, and the pearls I wrapped around the "garter" were borrowed.
I am crazy for both of your beautiful books, and plan to come to the store for the first time next weekend...in between our son's water polo games nearby. Thank-you for so much visual joy!

Anonymous said...

I am passionate for all kinds of beautiful ribbon. I have been collecting ribbon since I was a little girl. My fondest memories are times I went with my mother to lovely yardage stores and purchased satin and grosgrain ribbons to wear in my hair.

Elissa said...

I love all kinds of ribbon, especially vintage, satin, velvet
and grosgrain. I collect hat boxes and fill them with my treasures.

huberbk said...

Well, I cannot at this moment think of any one particularly lovely story I have about my ribbon passion to share; I'm still quite in awe of the story about a basement full of antique ribbon and the delicious photos that accompanied it!!! I will say this, though, I do have jars and jars and baskets and baskets full of the wondrous stuff that it is and still cannot seem to get enough nor find enough delightful uses for it! I would feel oh-so-very-lucky to win a box of ribbon in shades of robin's egg blue or a pretty coral!

Thank you so much for sharing.
Kristi

aclusters said...

Ilove old ribbon and trims,to me they are like frosting on a cake,i love putting them in an old jar,so they are always in sight!

peggy said...

Kaari, what lovely ribbons. I must say that each time I ordered one of your decorating boxes I so looked forward to the lovely ribbons that might be included - I've not been disappointed - what treasures they are. How I would love to be lost in a basement of old ribbons!!!

Christy said...

All of your ribbons are gorgeous! I love getting packages from you because you always wrap things in the prettiest ribbons! What fun it must have been to rummage through all of that vintage ribbon!!

somepinkflowers said...

ribbon ties up my heart
to my soul
with a bow.


it does.

:-)


have you ever been HERE--->
http://www.vvrouleaux.com/


so very ~~dreamy~~
but hold on to you $$$
or you will be ribbon~rich
and
cash~poor.

i would ADORE a bit of ribbon
from you...

ADORE!!
as you have the best eye for color,
i am certain....

Anonymous said...

I have been collecting ribbon for 40 years. I love it all and it makes me happy just to look at all the different kinds. It's the first thing I look at when I go to a craft or sewing store. What a great giveaway!

sharypat@gmail.com

Teri said...

Unfortunately, I don't have any vintage ribbon but I love to buy new ribbon in shades of pink. My favorite so far is a variegated sheer in 3 different shades of pink. It makes me think of a pink rainbow. Thank you for your generosity--please count me in.

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

I have posted pictures of your delightful store on my blog and although it is hard to select just one I think you will quickly see the section of ribbon I fell in love with.

Thank you for a lovely day!

Bronwyn said...

Hope I'm not too late - my favourite colour at the moment is raspberry red! Ribbons are such a tiny strip of loveliness - thanks for being so generous!

megan ann said...

I've never met a ribbon I didn't like!! Ribbon by the yard, ribbon on a spool...I love it all!!! Grey and yellow have been a favorite color combo for me for years now, although I am leaning more towards the reds and oranges with the change of season.