A close look at the above print of a carriage dress from Ackermann's Repository of Arts September, 1815, shows ribbons adorning the lace flounce at the hem, tied as a sash at the high waist, tied into little bows at intervals that decoratively confine the full sleeves and holding in place 'the hind hair brought forward to fall in ringlets over the temple' (which is certainly a novel way to make a fringe).
Ribbon could be used to create flowers and other trimmings such as these shells of white satin ribbon and tull.
A ribbon is a narrow strip of fabric woven to the desired width so that it has a selvage along both lengths and therefore can unravel only at the narrow, cut end. Unlike wide fabric looms, ribbon looms were mechanized as early as the beginning of the seventeenth century and this, together with the development of the multiple ribbon loom increased both quality and productivity.
Ribbon weaving was Coventry's main industry from the early 1700s to the 1860s. About half its population made a living from ribbon weaving and Coventry was the main centre of ribbon production in England. The ribbon weavers guarded their position jealously; the master manufacturers fixed prices for weaving ribbons and the ribbon-makers regularly petitioned Parliament on such diverse matters as shortening the period of public mourning for royal deaths (1818), a proper regulation of wages, pay and price of labour of journeymen and work people employed therein (1799) or their Anxiety and Apprehension respecting the Union of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland with the resulting admission of the Silk Manufacturers of Ireland [to the British market], heretofore prohibited which would have an adverse effect on the lives of many thousands of Men, Women and Children (1799).
Coventry experienced a boom, later known as 'the purl time' between 1813 and 1815 when there was a huge demand for purl-edged ribbon that was woven with a decorative edge resembling small scallops or pearls. In March 1814, Jane Austen tells Cassandra I have been ruining myself in black satin ribbon with a proper perl edge.
But, as usual, the boom later turned to bust. In order to meet the increased demand, the manufacturers took on 'half-pay apprentices' who later competed for work with the skilled workmen returning from the war after the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. The end of the war with France led to the renewal of trade with that country so that French ribbons were again available in England. Weekly wages fell from 18s. 1½d. in 1819 to 10s. 10d. ten years later. On top of that, related as it was to fashion and the fashionable world, the ribbon trade was seasonal and workers could find themselves out of work during the winter months, dependent on charity and poor-relief to make ends meet. I wonder did any of the ladies spare a thought for them.
Images with thanks from ekduncan.com