How to Work With Ribbon

For this blog post, we’re going to break down the necessary tips you should know when working with ribbon. This guide is great for beginners who have just started playing with this adornment as well as skilled crafters who could use a brush up on the old Ribbon 101. We’ll start from the beginning like how you should decide on what ribbon to choose to advice on what you need to know when working with ribbon. You’ll want to keep your pencil sharp and your pad ready to learn all that you need to know about ribbons.

Fabric Ribbon

So let’s get started…

What do I use ribbon for?

You might chuckle at how elementary this question sounds. But surprisingly, the answer is more vast then you could ever imagine. Since their start, ribbons were used as embellishments to clothing (read our History of Ribbon blog post for more info). Nowadays, you’ll find ribbon on wreaths, hair bows, candles, table centerpieces, crafts, gift packaging, and more. Every day, ribbon is being used on new craft discoveries. A quick search on Pinterest will produce countless results of innovative crafts that use ribbon in some way or another. And chances are that your project could use a bit of ribbons too!

Different Ribbon Uses

How do I pick out the right ribbon for my project?

This can be tricky. Ribbon comes in a variety of sizes, colors, and materials. You need to account for:

  • Size. Does your project require a large bow? How much room do you have for the ribbon? Ribbons come in small sizes like 3/8″ and large sizes like 1 1/2.” It’s best to measure out the area you will be placing the ribbon on to see what size you will need. If there is no area restriction, choose the size based on what looks appealing to you.
  • Length. Some projects require more ribbon than others. Like a ribbon wreath can cost you yards and yards of ribbon. Try to estimate how much ribbon you think the project requires and order accordingly. If you are completely out on left field about this, order an extra spool. You can always find different ways to reuse the ribbon.
  • Material. This can be the toughest decision to make. Ribbons come in a variety of materials like satin, raffia, fabric, polyester, and more. You’ll want to look at your project and think of what ribbon would match the overall look you’re going for. For instance, raffia ribbon is gorgeous for fall or outdoor projects. Grosgrain ribbon is great for hair bows. Satin ribbon works well for wreaths. Wired ribbon makes lovely bows. We’ll develop a more thorough guide to help you better understand what ribbon works best for what project soon.
  • Embellishments. Some ribbon comes with polka dots, stitches, metallic trimmings, sheerness, metallic sheen, and more. When deciding on ribbon, take into account the embellishments. You’ll want to match your ribbon’s embellishments to the overall look you want to convey for your project. For example, metallic ribbon looks great on presents for Christmas time.

Metallic Bow

How do I work with Ribbon?

Ribbon is very simple to use. All you need to do is unwrap your spool, release the ribbon (typically tape is holding it down), and start unraveling a few inches. Some projects require you to measure out your ribbon then cut the ribbon off the spool and other projects may ask for you to keep the ribbon on the spool till the last minute. It really depends on whether you know how much ribbon you need to use beforehand.

Once you’ve got your ribbon, it’s easy to work with. Tie your ribbon into a simple bow, make an intricate hairbow, or wrap your ribbon around a certain object. If you ribbon is wired, the bow will keep its place. Tools you will need when working with ribbon is generally a hot glue gun, scissors, and/or sewing equipment. You can sew ribbons onto fabric or you can hot glue gun ribbon onto objects like candles, wreaths, and more.

Check out our ribbon crafts for simple DIY tutorials.

Velvet Ribbon

What do I need to know about working with ribbon?

There are a couple of things you should know about ribbon before working with it:

  1. Ribbon can add sparkle to a project or take it away. Be careful to not introduce too many different colors and patterns onto one project. We urge you to mix print and color, but use a creative eye when doing so. Too much color and print can hurt the craft more than help.
  2. Ribbon easily frays. To keep your ribbon from fraying, you can apply some Elmer’s glue at the end or burn the edges (quickly put your ribbon edges under a match – no longer than a few seconds). You can also sew the edges to keep them from fraying.
  3. Ribbon works well with fabric, tulle, mesh, and other craft materials. Don’t be shy in mixing different types of fabric with ribbon. Think of ribbon as just an addition to an already fantastic craft.
  4. Ribbon is for everybody! Beginners, kids, adults, expert crafters – ribbon is easy to use for all. Just have fun with it!

Raffia Ribbon

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