Ribbon Buying Guide


There are many ways to use ribbon other than wrapping presents. From sewing projects such as curtains and clothing to more recent creative ideas, including DIY invitations and decorating candles, there are numerous ways to use ribbon. With so many different fabrics and patterns available, it can prove to be a challenge to finding the perfect ribbon. 

An important point to consider when shopping for ribbon is the difference between cut edge and woven edge ribbon. There are also different characteristics for different kinds of ribbon, such as taffeta, twill and satin. Size also plays an integral part depending on the use - Koch & Co has ribbon as narrow as 3mm wide and as thick as 25mm wide.


Ribbon Categories 

There are three main categories of ribbon manufacture: cut edge (nonwoven), woven edge and wire-edge. There is also picot edge, which applies to lace or crocheted material.

•    Cut Edge Ribbon 
A cut edge ribbon doesn’t have a finished edge, known as a selvedge. Therefore, cut edge ribbon does not suit clothing or projects that will be washed.  Also known as craft ribbon, this is most commonly used for gift wrap. The fabric is patterned, printed, or decorated with designs transferred by heat then cut to the needed width. The product is then treated with a stiffener that prevents the edges from unraveling. High quality cut-edge ribbon is made of acetate.

•    Woven Edge Ribbon 
A woven edge ribbon has a selvedge and comes in several forms, including grosgrain, silk, satin, sheer, metallic taffeta and twill. Their selvedges (woven edges) can be straight or shaped. It is a ribbon with a spun yarn or filament edge delivering a more finished look. The edge may be in the same colour as the ribbon fabric or in a completely different colour. 

•    Wire Edge
Wire-edge ribbons can be cut from broader strips of cloth with their edges wrapped over thin wires. The wire can also be woven into the fabric along the edges or down the middle, making wire edged ribbons versatile because the wire allows it to hold a definite shape. Wire edge ribbons suit making bows because of the stiffness of the wire, which enables the ribbon to stand up. 

•    Picot Edge 
Picot edge is also known as feather edging and consists of continuous loops along the selvedge of the ribbon, giving the ribbon a vintage feel. Each loop of thread is created along the edge of lace, crocheted or knitted material.


Types of Ribbon

Modern ribbons are manufactured from every kind of fabric, from velvet and satin to synthetics like nylon and rayon. The broad categories of ribbon textures include organdies, satins, grosgrains, metallic, natural fibres and more.

•    Satin Ribbon 
Satin ribbon is woven into a soft and lustrous finish. There are two kinds of satin ribbon: single-faced and double-faced. Single-faced satin has one smooth side, whereas double-faced satin has a smooth surface on both sides. In some instances, double-faced satin can have two different colours on each side. In general, satin can be printed with a variety of designs and is popular for wedding and event decorations, such as hanging backdrops, bombonniere décor and tying around candy jars. 

•    Silk Ribbon 
Silk ribbon has a similar texture to satin and is versatile and strong enough to be used in many different ways. One of the most common uses is in clothing. Other common uses include upholstery, bedding and rugs. 

•    Sheer Ribbon 
This includes organza, organdy, muslin, chiffon and georgette (also known as crepe). Sheer ribbon is translucent with a very light weave and is great for projects where the ribbon needs to drape. Muslin is sometimes woven with two different colours of thread for a two-toned appearance. Organza is a thin, plain weave and is traditionally made from silk. Commonly used for bridal wear as well as sheer curtains. Chiffon also tends to be sheer with a faint shimmer and a simple weave – adding a floaty look to gowns and bouquets. 

•    Grosgrain Ribbon 
Grosgrain ribbon has a ribbed appearance with a heavier weft than the warm, creating prominent transverse ribs. Grosgrain is a plain weave corded fabric with little lustre but is very strong. It’s very common for gift wrapping, decorating scrapbooks and greeting cards. 

•    Metallic Ribbon 
Metallic ribbon has many similar characteristics to sheer ribbon. It features a bright sheen with the thread running throughout the ribbon or just along the edge. Metallic ribbons usually have printed patterns for extra effect and is striking for gift wrapping. 

•    Taffeta Ribbon
Crisp and smooth with a plain weave and a subtle lustrous surface, taffeta ribbon is often found in multi-coloured designs but can also feature dots, stripes and a checkered pattern. 

•    Twill Ribbon 
Featuring a distinct herringbone design with a V-shaped weave, twill ribbon is soft and cotton-like in texture and strong. It does not have a lustrous appearance and can exhibit block colours and printed designs. Sometimes, twill ribbon is dyed or stamped for a more unique look. 

•    Jute and Burlap Ribbon 
Jute is spun into coarse, strong threads that make for really durable ribbon. Jute fibre is 100% bio-degradable and recyclable and thus, environmentally friendly. It is a natural fibre with golden and silky shine and is a popular choice for DIY crafts, wedding and event decorations. 

•    Tulle & Netting Ribbon 
Lightweight with very fine netting, tulle is made from many fibres, including silk, nylon and rayon. Commonly used for veils and gowns, it is also popular to wrap party favours and gifts, especially for weddings and baby showers. 

•    Nonwoven Ribbon 
Nonwoven ribbon is a fabric-like material made from long fibres such as felt. Specific functions include stretchiness, softness and absorbency. Nonwoven ribbon often mimics the appearance and texture of a woven fabric.

•    Additional Types of Ribbon
Lace and crochet have delicate patterns and are just some of the many more types of ribbon available in the market. Another type is velvet, which has a velvet texture in a narrow strip.


Ribbon Sizes

Mostly purchased on spools, each ribbon can vary in length as well as its width and is usually measured in millimetres or inches. The table below outlines the different ribbon widths that Koch & Co sells. It’s important to choose the correct width of ribbon because woven edge ribbon cannot be cut to a thinner width without removing the selvedge, which would lead the ribbon to unravel. However, ribbon can be hemmed.  

Ribbon Width Available (mm)
1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 14, 15, 19, 20, 22, 23, 25, 30, 38, 40, 50, 60, 62, 63, 100, 140, 150, 170, 250, 

•    1-15mm 
Ribbons of these widths are primarily known as “trim ribbon” or “narrows” and are ideal as gift embellishments or scrapbooking projects. Often used by florists for corsages and button holes. 

•    16-40mm 
This range includes some of the more popular widths and is commonly used for embellishing gifts and creating layers of multi-width bows. 

•    41-65mm
Mostly used to make DIY wreaths and garlands, as well as decorating the home. It’s also useful as part of gift wrapping and bow making.

•    65-100mm+
Can be used to make bows and garlands for chairs and mantelpieces, as well as gift wrapping and more. Often used in floral designs.

See The Beginner's Guide to Ribbons blog here.