Saturday, April 6, 2013

Feelin' Cocky In a Fancy Cockade

Spring is finally, most definitely here! Sorry I’ve been MIA for awhile, but here’s a little treat for the crafting soul: accessorizing with cockades!

Cockades from the 18th century are most commonly linked with men’s tricorne hats and with military dress–for example, cockades made up of blue, white and red ribbons were a common symbol of the French Revolution. But women picked up the fashion and began wearing them too, partially for their own political convictions, but also probably just because they were a stylish and official badge of sassiness all on their own. Check out this baroque babe…that style ain’t no lie.
A Portrait of a Young Lady (Yermolai Kamezhenkov, 1790)
The fun thing with cockades is that they are basically pretty easy to make, and totally customizable–in short, the perfect project for the 18th-century mod girl!

Your list of ingredients will vary depending on how you like to work with fabric, but essentially you will need:
  • Ribbons
  • Decorative buttons or items to top cockades
  • Bobby pins, headbands, or whatever you plan on attaching
  • Fabric glue (very useful for stopping ribbon edges from fraying) or Heat 'N Bond
  • Craft glue or a glue gun
  • Needle and thread

I played with constructing them in a few different ways, and today I’ll show you the most common style you’ll see. This is what I’ll call a flat pleat, to distinguish from the other types of cockades I made. The flat pleat means you just fold the fabric over in a zig-zag pattern, and then use an iron to flatten down the folds so you get nice, sharp pleats.

After making and ironing these folds, go over them first with a running stitch and use it to pull them together into a tight circle. Then go back over them with a back stitch to reinforce the circle. If you’re unfamiliar with types of stitches, here’s a quick reference from Use craft glue to lightly cover any ribbon edges to stop them from fraying, or press and iron ends with Heat 'N Bond.

Once the cockade is finished, you can hide the central seam with another smaller bow or a button, charm, or anything you fancy. Finally, glue on to the back whatever you want to make it an accessory. I glued a crafting bobby pin (it has a little flat metal circle on top which gives it a greater surface to stick to things) to the back of this one.

If you want to get all fancy with it, here’s a nice tutorial on making cockades the traditional way. I, however, am a firm believer in winging it, mod 18th-century style, if you’re not in the market for perfection. I used an iron to get the nice flat pleats, but I’m not sure I used the same exact method as the tutorial to finish off the ends. I just tucked the end of the ribbon in under the first fold I made at the other end of the ribbon, and that hid all of my handiwork. As long as you’re satisfied with how it looks, I call that success.

Now check out these 'artistic' Instagram pics. Award-winning, really.

So have at it! Grab some cute ribbons, fabric, buttons, and anything your 18th-century imagination inspires! More designs to follow, but if this looks fun and easy to you, feel free to post your own pics of personal creations.


  1. Fanastic! Can't wait to try this!! Thank you for a very easy to follow tutorial

  2. You are so welcome! I'm so glad it was easy to follow. Good luck and have fun crafting!