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Altered Ribbon

Reported by Julia Stainton

I love ribbon…who doesn’t?! It always seems to call my name! The strangest thing though, is that even though I have a huge collection of it, there are times when I need a little something different than what I have in my stash! Since I started papercrafting a few years ago, I’ve picked up a few ideas on altering ribbon. It is always fun to find new ways to use things or make things work that you already have.

Dyed Ribbon
There have been many times when I would have loved just the right shade of ribbon but I didn’t have it on hand. A great idea is dying your own ribbon. This actually isn’t as difficult as it sounds. A little messy perhaps, but with care, you can deal with that. A really quick way to dye ribbon is to use dye ink from an ink pad. You can simply run the ribbon across the pad and press down with your finger. Markers also work well and if you want a dual-toned ribbon, simply color one edge one color and the other edge another color. Organdy ribbon as well as grosgrain ribbon can be colored easily this way. If you wish, you can iron the grosgrain ribbon to heat-set the ink. Do not try this with the orgrandy or you will end up with a melted mess. If you have twill ribbon, sponging ink on with a sponge will give you a great textured and distressed look.

Going Wireless
Going wireless… No, I’m not talking about internet or other technology. I’m talking about removing the wire from wire-edged ribbon. Visit your local craft store and I’m sure you can find lots of gorgeous ribbon that comes with a wire in it. For the type of crafting I do though, wired ribbon is not easy to deal with. This really limits my choices. There is a LOT of gorgeous wired ribbon out there that I was wanting to use. I broke down and bought some and yes, it IS possible to remove that wire. Simply cut off just a little more than the required length of ribbon as you’ll want to re-trim the edges. Fray the ribbon back a little until you can see the end of your tiny wire. Pull it out carefully, trim the ends, and your ribbon is ready to use. One thing to note when using wired ribbon, use old scissors as it is really hard on your good ones and this technique works best for short to medium lengths of ribbon.

Heated Ribbon
Vintage, Shabby and Distressed styles are still hot right now. This suits me really well as I love altering and distressing. A great idea to give your organdy ribbon a different look is to heat it. You will need a heat gun for this. Carefully hit the already tied ribbon with short bursts of heat from your heat gun. The ribbon will start to shrivel up with the heat and get a great, distressed textured look. Make sure you don’t overheat! Your ribbon will begin to break apart and leave holes in it! For your first few tries you may just want to heat up some samples until you get the hang of it. Once you do, you’ll love the love and how quickly this technique is accomplished.

Stamp it!
Do you love the look of printed ribbon? Why not stamp your own? It is so quick and easy and adds a fun little touch to any of your crafting projects. The thing I love about stamps is that they can be used over and over. Use your stamps on your project and then use them again on the ribbon or twill for a coordinating look.

To stamp on ribbon, simply ink up your stamp with some good quality dye, solvent, or hybrid ink and stamp away. I suggest trying it out on a scrap of ribbon first. Some inks work better than others and you want to make sure that you can get a good impression with your stamp, ribbon, and ink combination. If you do decide to use Craft ink on your ribbon, be sure to heat set it with your heat gun to avoid smearing.


The next time you pick up your ribbon, take the time to look at it in a new way. You just may have the supplies you need already on hand to give it a new look. A great money-saver is to buy white ribbon and then dye it to match. If you have a great altered ribbon idea, please feel free to share it below. If you’ve tried out one of these ideas, we’d love to hear from you as well. Ribbon is one of those crafting stand-bys that we all seem to own. Why not have some fun with it?

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7 Responses to Altered Ribbon

  1. Cathy Whiteman July 12, 2007 at 9:43 am #

    what a lot of great ideas. The heated frazzled ribbon is the perfect touch for the one card. All those altered ribbons really make your cards. More beautiful cards and inspired teaching by Julia!

  2. Trudee July 12, 2007 at 10:42 am #

    great article Julia!!

  3. Peggy Maier July 12, 2007 at 4:01 pm #

    If you want to dye a grosgrain (or other) ribbon & use it right away, just use an ALCOHOL based marker (Copic or other brand) – because they dry almost immediately. No waiting for it to dry!

  4. Wife2TJ July 12, 2007 at 5:58 pm #

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. lacyquilter July 13, 2007 at 8:21 am #

    I’ve also gotten a look of stitched ribbon by making running stitches the length of the ribbon with a fine tip marker or white gel pen.

  6. Mel M. M. M. May 18, 2008 at 5:58 am #

    This is an awesome article. You can also emboss ribbon in a cuttlebug by treating it with ribbon stiffener (or fabric stiffener) first. :0) Mel

  7. Dana Caffrey January 15, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    You really did a great job there! I want to try this myself. Thanks for sharing this wonderful craft. Beautiful!