Intro: Weaving a Ribbon Bird
I was trying to show my girls some of the fun little things we used to make around Christmas time and remembered these little ribbon birds. I looked on instructables and couldn't find any that covered this topic so I decided to snap some shots while we made ours and share them with you.
Step 1: Needed Materials
To make these birds you need some ribbon and a scissors. You could also use an x-acto or utility knife. Basically just something to cut the ribbon into strips. The ribbon size depends on how good you are at weaving. You will be splitting or cutting the ribbon into fourths, so your working size may be very small if you choose thin ribbon or it can be much bigger if you use thick ribbon.
For these I used some ribbon about 1/2" wide, which gave me working strips of about 1/8." If you think you are really good with your fingers and can work with smaller strips then you can choose thinner.
Step 2: Cutting the Ribbon
Cut two pieces of ribbon about 9" long. Nine inches for ribbon 1/2" thick seems to be a good working length with limited waste.
Now you are going to cut the ribbon length wise into four strips, but not all the way through. You want to keep about 2" at the end to keep the four strips connected. You can crease the ribbon at 2" from the end, across the ribbon as the stopping point for cutting it length wise. Then crease the ribbon length wise in half then each half into half. You can then use the creased lines as a guide for your cuts. Cut the ribbon length wise, stopping 2" from the end.
Cut two ribbons in this manner for each bird you will be making. You don't have to keep both ribbons the same color, you can also mix colors for different patterns.
Step 3: Weaving the Two Ribbons Together.
You are going to fold and weave two strips on each ribbon through the others so there are two strips on each pointing forward and two strips pointing back.
Starting with one ribbon take one edge strip and fold it at 45 degrees across the top of the other strips with the edge lined up with the creased stop line. You can fold it either over itself or under itself. This first one doesn't matter, but on the second ribbon you will need to fold it the opposite way.
Once it is folded across you start weaving it through the other strips. The first one in the photos was folded under itself so I went over the next, then under then over the last strip.
Now fold the next strip the same way. If you folded the first strip under do the same with the next. If the first was over then the second one will be over also. Then weave this one through the last two, going the opposite as the first. If the first strip went over the next strip take this one under, then opposite on the next strip.
This opposing structure is what holds everything together in weaving.
Take the second ribbon and holding it the opposite of the first do the same thing, but with the opposite beginning fold. If on the first ribbon you folded the first strip under, then fold this over. If the first strip on the first ribbon was folded over then fold this one under, then weave it through the next strips doing the opposite. Fold the next strip the same as the first on this ribbon.
Once each ribbon has two strips wove through the others, so that two strips are pointed forward and two pointed back you with weave the two ribbons together.
You can see the strips make a large 90 degree angle with the piece of uncut ribbon hanging off the side.
Take the two ribbons and bring the strips together and the uncut ribbon sections away from each other, but angled back towards you.
If you did the initial weaving of each ribbon correctly, but opposite of each other you should be able to see they can be wove together by continuing the over, under pattern you had started on each one. If the over-under weave pattern can not be continued without the pattern coming out with strips going over two others then one ribbon needs to be rewoven opposite from what it is.
Once you have practiced you can get the uncut ribbons to also curve the same direction. The curve will be from being wrapped on the spool. You can use the curve as part of your bird design.
The weave between the two uncut sections will be the back of the bird and the uncut sections become the wings.
Step 4: Create the Body
If you were lucky enough to have the uncut ends or wings both curve the same direction. You can decide if you want the wings to curve up or down.
Face the curve of the wings away from you and edges angle back towards you.
Take two strips from the front and fold them over the center, then take the two from the other side of the front and fold them over center and weave them with the others. Just make sure to continue the alternating over-under patterns from how they were on the back.
Don't pull them tight yet, there is more weaving to come. The sides will be closed in in the next step.
Hold the front strips woven together and turn it around so the wings angle away from you. This is the rear of the bird. Fold one side of strips over the center diagonally to the opposite corner just behind the front strips from the opposite side, and weave them into the other front strips they cross, which should only be two from the front.
Now fold the last set of strips diagonally across the center corner just behind the front strips from the opposite side, and weave them into the other front strips they cross which should be four (two from the front and two from the opposite side rear.
At this point the weave should be tight enough to hold but not really tight, we still need to close in the sides.
You just made the belly of the bird.
Step 5: Close the Body
We will close in the sides of the body and tighten the weave.
You can see in the photos where the sides are still open and two strips extend out four directions and there are four sets of open side, two in the front and two at the rear. The loose strips are woven into these open sides nearest them.
After weaving one set of strips through the sides you can see if your weaving of the belly is correct. If you continue the weave pattern of over-under you get sections of weave that go over two, or under two the belly needs to be redone.
Weave all the loose strips into the sides nearest them. Once this is done all the strips should be coming together and touching in two bundles, one in front and one in back.
Here is were you can tighten the body up by gently pulling each strip a little at a time to close up any gaps in the weave pattern. When you are done all the strips should be the same length if your end cut was near straight or square.
Step 6: Finishing the Bird
Identify the front of the bird. The front is the end that the uncut ribbon sections or wings angle away from it.
Make the Head:
Bundle the front strips together keeping them nice and neat. We will be tying a simple knot. Wrap the strips under then over themselves so the ends come out to the bottom. The knot becomes the head and the loose ends becomes the beak. If you do it by going over the loose ends stick up and the beak will be on top of the birds head. Which makes for a funny looking bird.
Determine how long you want the neck by wear you tie the head. If you want your bird to have a longer neck like a swan or goose then tie the head further from the body. If you want a shorter neck tie it closer.
Cut the loose ends of the beak at an angle. You can cut it at an angle that you like to make a bold thick beak or a longer thinner beak depending on your preference.
Make the Tail:
I have made the tail different ways and and seen many more. It is really up to you how you want it to look.
You can just leave the tail strips loose, or pull them together and wrap a small piece of tape around them near they come out of the body for a bit cleaner look.
You can loop the ends back between itself and the one next to it to make a fancy looped look that spreads out. You will need to tape or glue the bundle together to keep them this way.
- For gluing: put some between two strips near the body and loop the ends back between the strips and into the glue hold it until it sets.
- For taping: loop all the ends back between the strips near the body then wrap the tape around all of them at once so you don't need to use as much tape.
You can also curl the tails with a pair of scissors. Use a single blade edge of the scissors, press one strip against the edge with you thumb with just enough pressure to hold it against it but not so hard it will rip the strip off and gently pull down the length of the strip. If the curl is not curly enough then do it again. *Warning - Be careful don't do it too may times, as most ribbon will curl only so tight then it will start to break down and go straight or fall apart.
Make the Wings:
Trim the wings down to a length and style you like. A simple angle cut, or use your fancy scraping scissors and cut scalloped edges, angles, or cut little slits or curves in from the end to approximate feathers.
Step 7: Enjoy Your Bird
Once you finished the bird's head and tail you can use your new ribbon bird on your Christmas tree as an ornament, or as a decoration on gift wrapping. These can be made anytime of year for decorating gifts or using as just fun activities for kids. Use bright pastels for early spring, bolder colors for summer, and more natural colors for fall.