Saturday, December 24, 2011

Yet Another Cockade Tutorial (Part 1)

There are quite a few tutorials on the web that explain how to make a cockade. So why am I adding another? For a simple and selfish reason: I figured out a method that works for me, and when I wanted to show some friends I couldn't remember the details anymore, and had to figure it out all over again! Hence, this post is as much for my own reference as perhaps to teach anyone who happens upon it.

Anyway! My method is based on a tutorial I found at, with tweaks and additional steps to make the process easier. Here's what you need:

1. Ribbon. I'm using a one inch wide grosgrain in this tutorial, and suggest you use a ribbon at least one inch wide for your first cockade. I haven't tried any other type of ribbon for this type of cockade, and imagine satin and wired ribbons would work just fine, but for the first time grosgrain is the easiest material to use.

2. A small piece of felt. I'm using a polyester eco-felt, made from recycled materials.

3. A ruler and air soluble pen, or chalk, or anything that will come out without water.

4. Thread to match the ribbon, thread wax, and a sharp needle. If you haven't gotten into the habit of waxing hand sewing thread, I highly recommend it. It helps keep the thread from tangling around itself.

5.  Lots of sharp pins. I like using steel silk pins because they are VERY sharp, and don't leave any mark after they come out.
One inch wide striped grosgrain ribbon.
I like using striped ribbons, because the stripes
make interesting shapes in the finished cockade.

Step 1: mark fold points on the ribbon.

Mark folds on the ribbon.  I'm making 2" long folds here.
Leave a generous tail, at 3-4 times the length of the folds.
I'm experimenting with measurements in multiples of ribbon width, the way Candace Kling does for flower making. Here I'm using 2 times the ribbon width, so my folds are two inches long. The air soluble marker was a bit hard to see in the photo, so I've gone over them digitally. Since the marks will fade, I only make about a dozen marks or so, and mark more as I go along.

Step 2: fold the loops of the cockade and pin them together.

First fold and pin.
Second and third fold, makes your second loop. Pin.
Many folds later, I have 4 loops (counting on the left side).
In this step you make the loops of the cockade. I'm right handed, so I keep the roll of ribbon to my right. I make two folds at once, one to the left, one to the right, so that I have one loop, when you look at the left side. Pin each loop to the previous loops. After the first loop, there isn't really any way to pin through all the layers, so I pin through just enough to keep the top loop in place.
Finished stack of loops. Leave a generous tail
at the beginning and end.
I find 10 to 12 loops makes a nice cockade. Sixteen is great for a denser cockade. More than 18 is probably overkill.

Step 3: stitch the loops to each other.

For this step I use a matching thread, doubled up and knotted at the ends (for demonstration purposes, and laziness, the thread here is white). Pass the needle through the tail and through both layers of the first loop, close to the corner. Secure the thread.

Start by going through the bottom tail and the first loop.
Secure the thread by passing the needle between
the threads and under the knot.
Finish by pulling taught.
For the remainder of this step, you are essentially back stitching each loop to the previous loop.

Pass the needle through the first and second loops,
close to the corner. Be sure to go through all layers.

Pass the needle through the second and third loops.
Repeat, two loops at a time, until you've gone through
the whole stack and the end tail.
Take an extra stitch through the last loop and the bottom tail, to secure the thread. Do not cut the thread off!

Step 4: remove the pins and connect the start and end. 

Remove all the pins.
Pinch the tails together and stitch through both twice.
At this point you can tie off the thread.
Yes, the thread has mysteriously changed color here. I needed a better photo of this step, so took one of a cockade I made after the one in this tutorial.

What to do with the tails: you can leave them hanging out, and trim them at an angle in or a dove tail. Here I made another loop from one of the tails, folded the other
tail inside, and stitched the end of the outer tail to the inner.

One tail is folded into an additional loop and the other
tail is tucked inside. I then stitched the outer tail to the
inner near the cut end.
Step 5: arrange the loops.

Turn the cockade over so that the stitches are on the underside.
Arrange the loops so that they're all going in the same direction.
At this point I like to pin the loops to each other so that
they are spaced evenly.
This is the bottom side of the cockade, but note that this
can also be your top side, which results in a slightly
different style.
Step 6: attach the felt and finish the center.

A piece of felt on the back of the cockade supports the loops and helps them maintain their spacing. It also gives you a foundation to, say, attach a pin back or a clip, something to stitch to if you want to attach it permanently to something.
Cut a circle of felt smaller than the cockade.
Pin the felt in place and whip stitch it in place.
Finish by putting something in the center to cover up
the hole. Fancy buttons, beads, or flowers work well.
Here I've used a pearl bead.
And now we're done! I hope this tutorial is clear. I welcome any and all feedback, and am happy to edit this tutorial so that it works for everyone.

This is now an abominably long post, so I will end. In Part 2 I'll talk about a few variations, and show you some of the cockades I've made in the process of learning this technique.

Happy stitching!


  1. Dear Claudine,
    What a superb tutorial. So clear.

    Thanks kindly,
    Natalie, of a Frolic Through Time

  2. Thank you, Natalie! Though I'm a pretty good stitcher, I'm just a novice teacher. But I'm trying!

  3. Oh, I have to try this technique! I love the effect in the middle, particularly, and that you did this with 1" wide ribbon. The other method I tried is reaaallly hard to do with 1" wide ribbos. THANK YOU!

  4. This is an awesome tutorial! I've wanted to make these but didn't know what they were called. Thank you!!!

  5. Lauren and Sakina, thank you! I'm just glad to be useful. :)

  6. Brilliant tutorial!! I am so going to try this method... I may or may not have an unhealthy obsession with making cockades ;)

  7. Miss Tarleton: it's not unhealthy at all! These cockades are pretty and provide quite satisfaction. Sounds like positive energy to me!

  8. Fantastic tutorial! So much clearer than the many others on the net. Thank you.

    1. Rosalind, you're totally welcome! I'm just glad it was useful to you!!

  9. Thank you for the tutorial! I used it to make my first grosgrain cockade for my hat here:

  10. This is fantastic. I am making an altered book about the civil war and just discovered the cockade while researching mourning rituals. I can't wait to make one. Thank you for this exceptionally well made tutorials. If you make others, I'm sure I will find them helpful.

  11. Brilliant this is just what I was looking for.
    Thank you so very much

  12. What great insgtructions!!!!!!! Thank you!

  13. Great Post! Thanks for your share! I like reading your post. The Yama Ribbon makes it wonderful!

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