Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas 2011: Ribbon Pinecone Ornament Tutorial

I bought two ribbon pinecone ornaments some years ago at a craft fair held by the hospital I was working for. They've been two of my most beautiful, most loved ornaments. I often wondered how they were made, thinking it must have been very difficult. With this holiday season, I've been on a big crafting kick. I've been looking for ways to make creative and inexpensive gifts. Thanks to YouTube, I've been learning how to do all kinds of interesting things, from making duct tape flowers to boutique-style hair bows. Unfortunately, there is no YouTube demo video for how to make a ribbon pinecone ornament! Maybe that will be my next project...

I found a decent written tutorial at I had to use what I learned there, plus looking closely at the ornaments I already had, plus a bit of my own flair to make my ornaments. Here is my version of how it is done:

Step 1: Get Supplies

*Styrofoam eggs - any size. I used 3" that I bought in a pack of four at A.C. Moore for around $5.
*Ribbon - any color and texture and any size that you like. Keep in mind that the larger the ribbon, the less time it will take to fill your egg, depending on the size of the egg. I used 7/8" satin and grosgrain ribbons. I bought mine by the spool and cut as I went along.
*Thin ribbon to make the bow hanger at the top of the ornament.
*Pins - you can use any flat head pin, really. I used applique pins because they are shorter, but it's not necessary. You will also need a hat pin or some other long pin with a pretty head on it for the topper.
*Scissors - again, any kind, but fabric scissors are better if you want straight unfrayed edges.

Step 2:
Pin a square of fabric to the bottom of your egg. This will cover any white space. 

Step 3:

Start pinning folded ribbon around the bottom of the egg.

There are two ways to fold your ribbon...

You can just cut and fold in half (which is what I did), or...

You can fold the corners in to make a triangle.

The triangle fold is a larger fold and will cover the egg more quickly, but it is a loose fold and is more difficult to keep a good grip on. I found that it was easier to do the first fold (which for me, translates into faster).

It will be easiest to maintain symmetry by aligning a point of each square toward the center of the egg. I do one in each corner of the first square, but it doesn't really matter.  Secure each ribbon with two pins; one in each horizontal corner.

If you do the square fold, make sure you pin at an angle and be consistent. You will have one open side and one loop side. Make sure your loop stays either right or left, not both. As you can see, I flubbed the direction above and I have the open loops facing right and left. It doesn't really matter, though. No one is going to scrutinize your loops but you.

When you pin on your next layer, you will want to align it directly above the previous layer.
Each previous ribbon makes a frame for the next.

You can choose to do your pinecone all in one color or you can do several colors. I have only done two and four colors so far. If you look at the above photo, you will see why. It seems that a 3" egg and 7/8" ribbon is symmetrical enough to go in even numbers, although some troubleshooting is required as it expands upward. Luckily, this design is "busy" enough that perfection is not necessary.

For the next layer, you are going to want to pin an alternate color (or not) between squares at the same height as the previous row. This fills in the gaps and covers the pins from the previous row, also.

Keep pinning alternating colors (unless you are doing a solid) until you get to the top of your pinecone. Remember, your rows will vary some and you will have to troubleshoot some. I can't break it down to precise numbers for you, unfortunately. Each and every ornament you make will be an original!

Here is some really good proof of the fact that each ornament will be an original.
I ran out of plaid ribbon and had to do all of the top layers in green. No biggie. I'm flexible...

When you get to the top of the pinecone (and the top layers seem to take the longest, not sure why), you will want to lay one or two rectangular pieces to cover all of the topmost pins (see photo). You really don't want any pins showing anywhere. I haven't gotten it perfected yet, but usually I can just reposition a few at the end and I am good to go.

Step 4:

Once you have all of your squares pinned on, you add your thin ribbon as a bow hanger.

Take a long pin with a head and push it through a loop of ribbon. You can keep a tail on the ribbon, but you don't have to. My photo shows a loop without a tail.

Once you have made your hanger loop, you will make additional loops (back and forth in an infinity or 's' pattern) onto the needle. Make them as long or short as you like and make as many or as few as you like. You can leave a tail at the end of your ribbon or cut it next to the pin.

Step 5:

Pin your bow hanger to the top of your ornament and you're ready to gift it or hang it on your tree!

I haven't tried this possibility, but someone who is more talented (and patient) than I am could use fabric instead of ribbon to make these. You would probably have to iron (ick) and use some kind of fray-check spray on it though, I'm sure. It might be worth it since patterned Christmas ribbon seems to be a bit of a challenge to find (I had to go to four stores to get the limited colors I bought). I'm sure there is a better selection online, but I don't know where (yet). Just a thought.

Happy Christmas crafting!!!!


  1. I think the two-colored ornaments are the prettiest. Your tutorial is clear, concise and (most important to us all)forgiving. Happy Christmas!

  2. Thank you very much! Merry Christmas to you also!