Beading or Bon-bons

Anyone for a box of candy? Beading, also called Bon-bons, is a fairly simple trim that can be seen as far back (at least) as the mid-18th century.

See this example: c.1775 gown with the skirt embellished with Beading trim rows on either side of a Center Ruche trim. All the trims are cut from the dress fabric.

Use about 1.25x to 1.5x the length of ribbon for your finished trim. If you want to compress each motif a bit more, then allow up to 2x.


  • Mark ribbon widths along length of ribbon before sewing. This is for both Beading and Bon-bons.
  • Allow a generous 1 RW to allow for ease to puff up the finished bead.
  • Sew each gathering mark with one length of thread, gather and tie off.
  • Use a single strand of thread for the gathering.
  • For Bon-bons: a 1/2 RW in the center keeps the bead rounded or with a slight oval; a full 1 RW gathering in the center makes a lozenge shape.
  • When creating Bon-bons, you can sew the vertical gathering stitches first, but not pull up; leave the thread tails so you can gather and tie off later after you sew up the horizontal section.

Sewing Instructions:

  1. Leave a tail and make generous 1 RW marks along the length of ribbon.
  2. Using a single strand of thread with a good knot at the end, lock stitch to one selvedge at first mark. Sew small running stitches - about 1/8" long - across width of ribbon to other selvedge, ending with the needle coming up to the back side of ribbon.
  3. Pull thread to tightly gather ribbon. Hold in place and lock stitch thread to hold gathers.
    • Optional: run the needle through the gather folds along the back of the ribbon to pull ribbon even tighter in the gathered area. Knot to hold fast.
  4. Repeat sewing and gathering at remaining marks along ribbon.

For Bon-bons:

  1. Make first mark for vertical gathering as for Beading.
  2. Move down 1/2 RW and mark in center of ribbon. Move over again 1/2 to 1 RW and mark. This space is for the center gathering within the bead. Move down another 1/2 RW and mark for the next vertical gathering.
  3. Mark the entire length of ribbon with above measurements.
  4. Begin sewing the vertical beading gathers and horizontal center bon-bon gathers. It’s helpful to run the vertical beading stitch lines first, but leave them flat. Then sew and pull up the horizontal section. Go back and gather the vertical beading lines and tie off.

Options and Variations:

  • Use contrasting or thick thread for the gathering.
  • Sew a large bead, set of beads or jewels at each gather point.
  • Stuff each bead with a cotton ball, fiberfil, or wooden bead to give the shapes more definition.
  • Tie tiny ribbons bows around each gathered section.
  • Cut ribbon into fat 3 RW lengths and gather to create individual beads that look like wrapped candies. Use striped ribbon to create another effect to the finished candy look.
  • Place finished trim into a serpentine shape when attaching to your project. Wrap another flat ribbon or braid around the beading for another layer.

Complete and Continue