The Beginner’s Guide to Ribbons

Getting Started with Decorative Ribbons

Ribbons and bows are used in numerous creative and decorative ways. Some of the many uses for ribbons are gift wrapping, greeting cards, hang tags and invitations. They are also used for hair braiding and accessorising. They are a main stay for craft, haberdashery, fashion, jewellery, cake decorating and many DIY projects. The florist industry would not be the same without ribbons for flower bouquet wrapping. We can not forget all the event ribbons are used for such as weddings and birthdays and many special celebrations. In short, ribbons are used almost everywhere to decorate and embellish.

Ribbons have been around since the Middle Ages when merchants journeyed all over Europe peddling extravagant ribbons from the East, some interlaced with gold and silver whilst some fashioned out of silk and other exquisite materials. Throughout the course of history ribbons have been regarded as a symbol of nobility and were worn exclusively by the upper-class. By the seventeenth century ribbons had permeated the fashion industry and men and women’s clothing were adorned with ribbons in various forms.

Today, the ribbon industry has expanded beyond fabric materials and has encompassed a variety of materials ranging from synthetic and natural fibres to suit a multitude of uses.

Fabric Ribbons

There are several main commonly recognised categories of ribbon materials and these include;
Sheer organdies/organzas, nylon or polyester satins, cotton or polyester grosgrains, cotton as well as hessian flax or jute natural fibres, open mesh or closely woven metallic fibres. In fact any material can be cut and fashioned into a ribbon.
Another key element to differentiate ribbon is the types of selvages or edges a ribbon might have.
Three key types are; cut-edge, woven-edge, and wire-edge ribbons. Depending on the ribbon type and texture some will be more suitable for particular purposes. Below we list some of the popular ribbon textures and types with a few suggested uses.
The last key element you need to know when selecting ribbons is the ribbon width. Ribbons have a multitude of widths form 2mm to 200mm.

Organdy/Organza ribbons are thin, sheer, lightweight, crisp and were originally made of cotton with an open, plain weave and very fine, tightly twisted single yarns. Now these ribbons are predominately made of polyester or nylon. This delicate looking ribbon will tie a limp or floppy bow and hence is perfect for wrapping bombonieres or party favours and has a strong presence in weddings and events. These types of ribbons add the finishing touch to greeting cards, paper invitations, flower bouquets and chair covers. If you are looking to create a beautiful sturdy bow with organza try the wired edge which will help the bow keeps it’s shape.

Add a soft touch to floral arrangements with a bow made of organza ribbon.

Add a soft touch to floral arrangements with a bow made of organza ribbon.

Satin ribbons made out of polyester or nylon is one of the most flexible ribbons. It is the cheaper alternative to silk ribbons and looks almost identical. This type of ribbon can be found as single faced satin (smooth and shiny only on one side) and double faced satin (smooth and shiny on both sides). It is available in either cut-edge or woven-edge. With cut-edge the ribbon ravels at the ribbon’s horizontal side and with woven-edge the ribbon ravels at the ends but not the side. Cutting the ribbon at an angle will prevent fraying at the ends. Satin ribbons are very popular as hair accessories and gift wrapping. Classically used for all forms of wedding decorations. Double faced or double sided satin ribbons (satin feel on both sides) are the perfect adornment for wedding cars. Satin ribbon is perfectly customisable and ideal for printing of logos or text producing the crispest print.

A gift wrapped with silver gift wrap and tiffany blue satin ribbons

Compliment glossy gift wrap with satin ribbon to add an extra shine to your gifts.

Satin Cords made out of polyester in the shape of a thin rope is great for making various jewellery pieces from necklaces to bracelets. It acts as a great bridal gown accent and also useful as drawstrings for purses or pouches.

A blue potted arrangement decorated with gold ribbon cord

Use ribbon cords to embellish and highlight your arrangements.

Grosgrain ribbons are made of woven blends and polyester with a ribbing effect. They are frequently used as a greeting card or paper invitation accents, scrap-booking, gift-wrapping and even lanyards. Because of the textured finish, they feature well for flower bouquet wrapping as well.

Gifts wrapped in counter roll decorated with grosgrain ribbons.

Add a textural touch to your gifts with grosgrain ribbons.

Metallic ribbons either have an open weave mesh finish or a closed weave smooth lame’ like finish. Metallic ribbons can either be like a stiff mesh fabric or soft. Soft fabric ribbons usually need a wire edge to maintain body when used for gift-wrapping or creating bows to adorn Christmas trees. As it holds its shape well, it is also great for making large bows to embellish wreaths.

A gift box with a silver metallic pull bow.

Create a voluminous pull bow with wired metallic ribbons.

Paper Ribbons

Florist ribbons also known as evebbon is made from polypropylene and comes in a wide range of colours. It is a sturdy ribbon and can be easily split (torn) and curled to the desired effect. It is also often used by professional florists and for funeral bouquets. Patterned tear ribbon is also an option, coming in different prints such as polka dot, stripes, and various printed patterns. Pull bow ribbons which can be assembled in a matter of seconds and are a great for confectionary decorations and hampers.

A green gift wrapped box with white florist tear ribbon & polka dot ribbons.

Use a combination of complimentary colours to jazz up your gifts

Aspidistra Leaf ribbons are a waterproof poly ribbon. It is made to look and feel like the real aspidistra plant which is a foliage plant and also a popular house plant that can survive with minimal care. It works well with floral bouquets to give it a more natural look.

A floral arrangement using orchids and aspidistra ribbons

Use aspidistra ribbon to create layers to your floral arrangements.

With such a wide range of ribbons available there is sure to be a ribbon that will suit your intended purpose. Choose from our extensive selection of delicate organzas, versatile satins, stylish grosgrains, festive metallics and florist ribbons, to bring to life all of your gift wrapping ideas.

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9 Responses

    1. Koch

      Hi Renee,

      we have a few basic technique tutorials coming up very soon that will cover things like:

      • how to tie a bow
      • how to wrap flowers
      • how to wire flowers

      and plenty more of the techniques that are used everyday

      1. Renee

        Thank you. I was referring to the images provided above for “mettalic and satin ribbons”. I was interested in how to loop them together.

  1. Jemima

    Hi there,

    Also very keen for these tutorials and ideas on how to use wire for decorative purposes.

    Just wished to commend Koch and Co for the great inspirations Gallery. I design most of my arrangements based on the arrangements available.

    Please continue adding new arrangements as you have been doing – don’t know what I would do without them!!!!

  2. Fanny Boyd

    Hello Koch,
    Each and every wrapping ideas is incredibly unique as well as stunning. I specially like the third one. Thanks a lot for sharing it with us.

  3. 713-469-1875

    No where in your post did you mention what type of ribbon are good to work with on certain projects.

    Do you have a list you could kindly send me? Thank e

    1. Hi Amanda, we’d love to help! Could you please let us know what project you need the ribbon for and we will then send a list of suggestions.
      Kind regards,
      Koch & Co

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