Rosettes: The Com-pleat Story!

two_Men4The history of the rosette is as old as the history of humanity itself. Inspired by nature, we have for millennia been crafting objects of beauty to be worn as symbols of allegiance, achievement or prestige.

Historically, the design of these objects symbolically aligned the power and beauty of the planets or flowering plants [the rose in particular] with a variety of cultural and political ideologies to create motifs intended to elevate the wearer and transcend time.

Until the early 18th century, these emblems and adornments were associated mainly with the costumes and ceremony of the social, military and religious elite and were fashioned from expensive fabrics such as silk, which were the preserve of the rich.

The Industrial Revolution changed all that. Increased availability of fabrics and dyes in Europe saw rosette-like emblems being adopted by a much wider public, as political and social freedom and identification increased. Cockades, pinned on hats, became a symbol for revolutionaries and armies across Europe and North America. Eighteenth century Irish records identify badges made of woven ribbons that were worn on St. Patrick’s Day.

The association with military honours is most notable in the adoption of a rosette by Napoleon Bonaparte as part of the Legion of Honour Award to recognise outstanding military service and citizenship. Since then other armies have used rosettes with medals for courage such as the US Medal of Honour.

The association of a rosette with honour, prestige and achievement endures to this day. At  Shamrock Rosettes, we ensure that our attention to quality and detail fully reflects the value that each rosette represents to its recipient.

Anatomy of a Rosette

Single-tier rosette
Single-tier rosette

Our rosettes comprise a tier, a centre disc and a tail.


A tier refers to a circle of woven-edge, single-faced, satin ribbon that has been pleated or ruffled. It is then anchored with stitching along its inner edge and attached to a supportive circular backing material such as paper, plastic or cardboard.

[See the FAQ section for further information on styles, sizes and types of rosette tier.]

Centre disc

The centre disc displays the information about your award or event. On our customised rosette range this is a waterproof label badge onto which your text and/or images are printed before being applied to a die-cut ticket board disc. In our gift pack range, the centre disc is a plastic-coated paper print applied to a metal disc.

[See the FAQ section for further information on printing options, types and sizes.]


The tails can be any length you choose but in general, the larger the rosette the wider the tail and the greater the number of tiers the more tails can be used.

[See the FAQ section for further information on printing options and sizes.]


Pleating is a technique whereby a piece of fabric – a ribbon in our case – is skillfully and systematically folded by doubling the fabric over on itself and then stitching and/or ironing it into place. The ‘fullness’ of the pleat refers to the amount of pleating involved: so 0% fullness means there are no pleats, while 100% (or more) fullness refers to a piece of pleated ribbon that is half the length (or less) than it was before being pleated.

Pleats that have been pressed or ironed result in a sharp crease whereas unpressed pleats are softer and more rounded.

At Shamrock Rosettes we use a range of pleating effects, including “knife”, “box”, “Elizabethan” and “Japanese” pleats.

Knife Pleat

Knife pleat
Knife pleat

The folds are all in one direction, using three inches of fabric for every one inch of finished pleat.

Box Pleat

Image of normal and inverted box pleats
Box pleat

A box pleat is a series of back-to-back knife pleats that also has a 3:1 fabric usage ratio. With the inverted box pleat, the ruffle effect is less pronounced. These pleats have been pressed to give a sharp fold.

Elizabethan Pleat

Elizabethan dress

This is more of a ruffle but creating the effect requires as much skill and dexterity as that required for making a pleat. Some of the earliest and most iconic images of ruffles come from the 15th century and are associated with neckwear worn by England’s Queen Elizabeth I.

Japanese Pleat

Japanese ruffle or pleat
Japanese ruffle or pleat

This has a looser fold than the Elizabethan pleat and is created using a much wider ribbon. A single-tier Japanese pleated rosette can therefore have the same diameter as a two-tier Elizabethan pleat rosette.

Rosette Facts

Colours and placings

In sporting events and shows, specific rosette colours are associated with specific placings. However the convention differs from country to country. In Ireland placings are as follows:

  • Red : First Place
  • Blue : Second Place
  • Yellow : Third Place
  • Green : Fourth Place
  • Pink : Fifth Place
  • Purple: Sixth Place

Who or what wears the rosette?

At equestrian and livestock events, the rosette is attached to the bridle of a horse, sheep, cow etc. However, in the case of a canine or feline event, it is the owner who wears the rosette not the dog or cat. Try pinning a rosette to a rottweiler and you will understand why! For all other events, like school sports days and classroom awards; promotional events and special occasions (St Patrick’s Day, First Holy Communion etc) it’s the person that wears it.

How do I attach a rosette?


Safety pin fastener on back of rosette
Safety pin fastener


Bridle hook fastener on back of rosette
Bridle hook fastener


Tape fastener on back of rosette
Tape fastener

A rosette is attached to an animal’s bridle using a bridle clip or string tape. It is attached to a person’s clothing using a safety pin.