Sewing secrets: RIBBING

 In this manual we used contrasting thread for clarity. You should choose thread that best matches the ribbing!

Ribbing is a type of fabric that is knitted circularly. It has more stretch than other stretchable fabrics, to ensure it is easier to pass your head or hands through. The ridges are the ‘memory’ of the fabric: after it has been stretched, it snaps back to its original size, ensuring a close fit to your wrist, neck or hip/waist. Here you will discover all the ribbing secrets: the basic technique to sew ribbing to fabric ánd the hacks that will lift your sewing to the next level!

Step 1

  • Cut the band according to your pattern.
  • Does your band consist of two parts (for example a waistband), then follow step 2 and 3. Is it 1 part, then go to step 4.

Step 2

Sew both pieces together, forming one wide strip:

  • Place right sides together (The right side is a bit smoother than the wrong side).
  • Pin the short edges.

Step 3 

  • Sew according to the seam allowance of your pattern. Use a serger or a straight sitch on a regular sewing machine.
  • Press the seam open (when working with a regular sewing machine) or to one side (when working with a serger).

Step 4

  • Fold and iron the band in half over the long edge ,wrong sides together. (The right side is a bit smoother than the wrong side.)
  • Unfold.

Step 5

  • Fold in half over the short edge, right sides together.
  • Pin together. Pin the fold lines from step 4 exactly on top of each other.

Step 6

  • Sew according to the seam allowance of your pattern. Use a serger or a straight sitch on a regular sewing machine.

Step 7

  • Press the seam open (when working with a regular sewing machine) or to one side (when working with a serger). A sleeve ironing board or a rolled up towel can make this easier.

Step 8

  • Unfold the fabric, right sides out.
  • Fold closed again on the ironed fold line, creating a double round band.

Step 9

Divide the fabric edge into 4 equal parts:

  • Fold the band closed with the seam exactly at the side.
  • Press and make a small cut within the seam allowance on the opposite side.

Step 10

  • Now fold the band again, placing the cut and the seam exactly on top of each other.
  • Make a small cut within the seam allowance on both sides.

Step 11

Divide the opening of your garment into 4 equal parts in the same manner:

  • Keer met de goede kant naar buiten. 
  • For a sleeve opening, use the exact same method as you did for the ribbing.
  • For a waistband it is usually even more simple: both side seams are the first two markings. Markings 3 and 4 are center front and center back.
  • For a neckline, start with cuts in the half of the front and back (center front and center back). Pull those points until the neckline is straight and pin the points to your ironing board as shown in the photo. Divide that straight line in half for the third and fourth marks
  • Turn right side out.

Step 12

  • Place the band over the opening, right sides together, lining up the unfinished edges.
Are you making a small size with a very small circumference? Then first read the TIP!
  • Pin the band to the opening: 
    • For a sleeve: pin the seam exactly to the seam of the sleeve.
    • For a neckline: pin the seam to the center back. You can also choose to line up the seam with one of the shoulder seams.
    • For a waistband: Pin the seam (or seams) to the side seam (or side seams).

Step 13

  • Pin the other 3 markings of the band to the 3 markings of the opening. The band is smaller than the opening, so you will have some gathering, that is normal.

Step 14

  • Sew the ribbing to the fabric. Use a serger or the zigzag stitch on a regular sewing machine. Stretch the ribbing and fabric while sewing, to divide the band evenly.

Step 15

  • Turn right sides out.


When sewing a small size, adding ribbing to a sleeve or trouser leg can be tricky.
You will probably succeed in pinning it together, but while sewing the other side of the sleeve keeps getting in the way or you are sewing over your pins. You can make it easier by working inside out!

  • Don’t turn the sleeve right sides out after step 11.
  • Pin the ribbing in the sleeve, instead of around the sleeve.
  • While sewing, the rest of the sleeve will be above the presser foot instead of below (you are sewing inside the sleeve). This way you will have a better overview.

Calculating Ribbing Yourself

 Are you adding the bands to a pattern yourself? You will need 2 measurements to calculate how to cut your About Blue ribbing:

  1. Measure the circumference of the opening (measure the finished garment, exclude the seam allowance).
  2. Decide how long you want the band to be (finished length). For a wristband or a waistband it is generally 5 cm, for a neckline generally 2 or 3 cm.

Calculate the dimensions of your pattern piece as follows:

  • Height ribbing = (finished length x 2) + 2 cm
  • Length ribbing (sleeve, trouser leg or waist) = (80% of the circumference) + 2 cm
  • Length ribbing neckline = (82% of the circumference) + 2 cm



At About Blue we love building! No wonky collections that you have forgotten after one season, but a sturdy concept that will last you a long time. That is why we build all our collections based on a set color scheme. That piece of ribbing in your closet matches todays fabric perfectly. But that colour can also be found in previous and future prints from our collection. This way you can build a mix & match wardrobe. And you will be able to keep combining with your fabric stash!


All our ribbing fabrics are Oeko-tex certified, and we are very proud of that. If you take the time to sew something, for yourself or someone else, you do it with love! Of course you wouldn’t want to use fabrics that are made with harmful products? About Blue fabrics and ribbing are 100% chemical-free!

Ribbing for perfectionists

Would you like to match the seam of your ribbing exactly to the seam of your garment? Then sew the seam of your ribbing with a regular sewing machine. Since the fabric will not be stretched in this direction, you can use a regular straight stitch. You will be able to press the seam open and it will be easier to pin the seams together. This is also a solution when working with thicker fabrics, to avoid bulking at the seams.

Alternative uses for ribbing

Ribbing is not just for round sleeves or necklines! You can also use ribbing for V-necks, bomber necklines and bomber waistbands.

Can you use ribbing as fabric?
For small pattern pieces and details, definitely! A breast pocket for example is a fun addition to a t-shirt: use the same ribbing as the neckline for a perfect match! Or add a uni strip of ribbing to contrast a print fabric. Or cut the facings of your garment from ribbing!

Our patters with ribbing

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