Once you’ve found the perfect unique gift, how do you wrap it in a way that’s just as special? Making your own ribbon from fabric adds a customized handmade touch in just a few steps. Follow along as Lisa Cartrette of Bashful Birdie shares how to make DIY ribbon two ways: with a sewing machine and with a no-sew option. Have a lot of fabric on hand you’d like to use to up your gift game? Learn six furoshiki techniques for wrapping presents with fabric!

Holiday presents are wrapped in colorful fabric ribbon in jewel tone colors, in both a Christmas tree repeating design and small squares of coordinating colors in varying pairings.
Presents elegantly and uniquely wrapped in handmade fabric ribbon.
Featured fabric collection

Lisa: When I’m shopping for gift wrapping supplies, I’m often left empty handed because none of the options are just right for my aesthetic (or they’re covered in glitter). Therefore, I’m going to show you how you can make your own custom fabric ribbon to adorn your wrapped gifts, make bows or anything else you can think to do with ribbon, in case you’d like to make your own too. As with most DIY projects, it will take more time to make your own ribbon than it will to buy it. However, the reward of making your own is greater—you’ll have something unique to not only you, but also your unique gift wrapping vision.  

The options are seemingly endless when it comes to choosing the perfect fabric for your ribbons. (Especially when you can upload your own designs to create extra-one-of-a-kind ribbon!) My only suggestion is to choose a design that has a small scale or a motif repeat small enough to fit within your desired ribbon width. For example, the fabric I chose for this tutorial has a repeating pattern with 2” vertical stripes of trees. This particular width made it simple for me since I wanted 2”-wide ribbons.  

Pro Tip: Want to Learn More About Spoonflower Design Widths?  

Learn insider tips in our Help Center article “Visualizing Size and Scale of Marketplace Designs.” 
Materials for this project have been laid out on a wooden table: thread spools in yellow, orange, blue and green; two folded pieces of cotton fabric featuring designs in jewel tone colors, in both a Christmas tree repeating design and small squares of coordinating colors in varying pairings; scissors; pinking shears and a rotary cutter.
Most of the supplies you’ll need for this tutorial.

Materials

  • 1 yard of cotton in your desired designs (Fill-A-Yard® with the vertical split would work perfectly for 2 designs on Petal Signature Cotton®!) 
  • Thread  
  • Sewing machine 
  • Fabric scissors or Rotary cutter 
  • Pinking shears 
  • Iron and ironing surface 
  • Iron-on adhesive (optional) 
  • Serger (optional) 
  • Solid color strip of cotton fabric for double-sided ribbon (optional) 
Examples of three different fabric ribbon. The two left-hand ribbons are made with a design featuring jewel-tone and white Christmas trees. The ribbon on the right has a design with small squares of coordinating colors in varying pairings, also in jewel-tone designs. The ribbon on the right has serged edges, the middle ribbon has sewn together edges and the ribbon on the right has pinking shear edges.
Examples of the three types of fabric ribbon you’ll learn in this tutorial. From left to right, serged edges, sewn together edges and a no-sew option using pinking shears.

Part 1: Make Your Fabric Strips 

Step 1. Consider the length of fabric you’ll need.  

I made my ribbon pieces about 3 yards long by sewing three strips together. Since this is a DIY, you can make your ribbon as long as you want depending on what you want to use it for. If you want to make just enough ribbon for wrapping a gift, you can use a string or piece of yarn and tie that around your gift, making a bow and making sure you have your tails as long as you want them. Use that piece of string or yarn to determine how much ribbon you’ll need to make. 

Once you’ve determined how much ribbon you’ll need, given the length of your fabric, you’ll be in one of two camps: a) either your fabric is already long enough as is, making this a very short tutorial, or b) your fabric is not long enough to make the length of ribbon you require and the fabric strips will need to be connected together.  

If the length of your fabric is long enough to wrap your gift or do your intended project and:  

  • You’d like one-sided ribbon, cut as many fabric strips as you’ll need at your desired width. You can either use pinking shears so the edges don’t fray or scissors. If you use scissors, keep in mind that the fabric may fray. Fraying sometimes can look cool, but if you don’t want that to happen, you will need to finish your edges. 
  • You’d like two-sided ribbon, follow along with the instructions under Step 6 in the Sewing Machine and Serger Method below.  

If your fabric isn’t long enough and you’ll need to connect shorter fabric strips to create your ribbon:

  • Continue following the instructions for how to attach your strips with your sewing machine (and with optional serged edges) or with a no-sew method. 

Step 2. Cut your fabric strips. 

If your fabric strips aren’t long enough for your project, you’ll learn two ways below to attach the strips together to create ribbon for whatever length you might need. 

If you want to use a sewing machine or serger, cut your fabric strips using a rotary cutter or scissors anywhere from 1” to 2” wide. (However, since this is a DIY project, you can make wider ribbon if you’d like!)  

Lisa has cut one strip of fabric lengthwise in a long 2” strip. The fabric features a design with white and jewel tone repeating Christmas trees. The fabric is on a green cutting mat and Lisa is holding a rotary cutter at the photo’s bottom right.
Cutting the first strip of 2” fabric.

If you make the no-sew option, cut the strips with a set of pinking shears. You can mark off your lines with an air erasable marker.  
 
I chose fabric designs featuring motifs with 2” vertical strips; therefore, to make this simpler, I’m cutting along each vertical line that appears in the fabric every 2 inches. I’m making one of my ribbons double sided, so I chose a coordinating solid color fabric and am also cutting a 2” vertical strip.  

Two piles of fabric cut in 2” lengthwise strips lay on a wooden table; a pair of scissors is to the bottom right. The cotton fabric features two designs, both in jewel tone colors, a Christmas tree repeating design and small squares of coordinating colors in varying pairings.
After cutting several 2” strips in both designs.

Part 2: How to Make Fabric Ribbon With a Sewing Machine 

Step 1. Line up your first fabric strips to stitch.  

A pile of fabric cut in 2” lengthwise strips lay loosely folded on a wooden table. The cotton fabric features a design in jewel-tone colors with small squares of coordinating colors in varying pairings. To the right the bobbin section of a sewing machine as shown from above. Also on the table are two pieces of perpendicular fabric being prepared to sew together. The fabric features a jewel-tone Christmas tree repeating design.
Sewing two strips of fabric together.

If you’re sewing strips of fabric together to make your ribbon, place two strips right sides together at a 90-degree angle. You’ll be connecting the ends of two strips of fabric to create a longer strip of fabric. Be sure that the bottom fabric has been placed design side up and the perpendicular fabric on top has been placed design side down, so that the two fabric pieces have the right sides touching.

Step 2. Connect the corners.

A pile of fabric cut in 2” lengthwise strips lay loosely folded on a wooden table. The cotton fabric features a design in jewel-tone colors with small squares of coordinating colors in varying pairings. To the right the bobbin section of a sewing machine as shown from above. Also on the table are two pieces of perpendicular fabric that have been sew together corner to corner in a 45-degree angle. The fabric features a jewel-tone Christmas tree repeating design. Lisa has opened the seam that she previously pressed down with her finger.
Opening the seam that Lisa has pressed with her finger.

Create a 45-degree angle at the corner by finger pressing the line to seam as shown above. Then sew a straight line from corner to corner on the seam you just finger pressed.

Lisa is cutting extra fabric left over from when two top corners of perpendicular strips of fabric were sewn together at a 45-degree angle. She cutting off the small extra triangles of fabric that are no longer needed.
Trimming off the extra bits of the fabric.

After sewing the seam, trim off the triangle of fabric.

Step 4. Keep going.  

Continue to make a fabric strip using the steps above until it’s as long as you need it to be.  

Step 5. Repeat.  

Using the steps above, make another fabric strip that’s the same length as the first strip. 

Step 6. Sew the edges of the two long fabric strips you just created together.

A 2”-wide curled up strip of fabric with a design featuring small squares of coordinating colors in varying pairings is to the top left. Two hands are lining up two 2”-wide strips of fabric at the tops, wrong sides together, in the middle of the image. The strips of fabric have a Christmas tree repeating design, also in jewel tones. Part of a white sewing machine is visible to the top right.
Lining up the fabric strips.

Place and pin your fabric strips wrong sides together.  

A 2”-wide strip of fabric with a Christmas tree repeating design in jewel tones has been placed under the needle of a sewing machine loaded with blue and yellow thread. The needle has been placed 1/4" in from the right-hand side of the fabric strip.
Placing the needle 1/4″ in from the side of a fabric’s strip’s edge.

Adjust your needle to sew a stitch 1/4″ from the edge of the fabric.

Sew all the way down the long side of the strip. Then sew all the down the other side of the strip.  

Close up of the top of a present wrapped in red wrapping paper with small white stars. Ribbon wrapped around the present has been made out of a 2”-wide fabric strips sewn together. The ribbon features a design with small squares of coordinating colors in varying pairings. A blue-and-gray pom pom has been tied to the ribbon’s bow.
A close up of ribbon that has been sewed together on both sides.

When you’ve finished your ribbon, depending on the look you’re going for, you can either keep your new ribbon as is, or wash and dry this strip to get a fun fray on the sides. 

Part 3. How to Add Optional Serged Edges  

Step 1. Follow steps 1-5 above.  

Once you have two strips of fabric both in your desired length, you’re ready to move on to the step below.   

Step 2. Serge the edges.  

First, adjust the settings on your serger so that the threads are close together and the width of the stitch is the smallest. You can take a few scraps and test the settings until you like the results.  

Two hands are lining up two 2”-wide strips of fabric at the tops, wrong sides together, in the middle of the image. The strips of fabric have a Christmas tree repeating design, also in jewel tones. A white sewing machine is in front of their hands.
Lining up the fabric strips to be serged.

Next, place your fabric strips wrong sides together.

Two hands hold up 2 2”-wide strips of fabric that have been serged together along their right-hand side. The strips of fabric have a Christmas tree repeating design, also in jewel tones. A white sewing machine is to right of their hands.
After serging one side of the fabric strips together.

Serge one long side of your ribbon.

A hand holds up 2 2”-wide strips of fabric that have been serged together along both their right-hand and left-hand side. The strips of fabric have a Christmas tree repeating design, also in jewel tones. A white sewing machine is in the middle of their hands as the fabric is still being stitched.
Serging both sides of the fabric strips together.

Then serge the other long side of your ribbon and you’re done!

Part 4: How to Make Fabric Ribbon With No-Sew Method 

Step 1. Follow the steps in Part 1 to create your fabric strips.  

A long strip of 2”-wide cotton fabric featuring a design with small squares of coordinating colors in varying jewel tone pairings has been cut out with pinking shears. It is laying on a white surface. A pink or orange-handled pinking shears is laying on top of the fabric strip.
After cutting out a fabric strip with pinking shears.

With pinking shears, cut out your fabric strips.  

Step 2. Cut out your hem tape or iron-on adhesive.  

Use hem tape or cut a piece of iron-on adhesive that’s about 1/4″ tall and roughly the width of your ribbon.  

Step 3. Place the piece of adhesive you just cut out on the top of the ribbon, design side up. 

An iron is adhering iron-on adhesive to a long strip of 2”-wide cotton fabric featuring a design with small squares of coordinating colors in varying jewel tone pairings has been cut out with pinking shears. The fabric is laying on a white surface.
Adhering iron-on adhesive to a fabric strip.

Iron down the adhesive for the amount of time it says on your adhesive instructions.  

Step 5. Peel off the back of your adhesive and join pieces.  

An iron is adhering two long strips of 2”-wide cotton fabric together. Both the beginning of one strip and the end of the other strip have small bits of iron-on adhesive that are being adhered to each other. The fabric features a design with small squares of coordinating colors in varying jewel tone pairings has been cut out with pinking shears and is laying on a white surface.
Adhering one strip of fabric to the other with small bits of iron-on adhesive.

Once that’s cooled down, peel off the backing and place the other piece of ribbon on top. Iron down the two joined pieces for the amount of time it says on the adhesive instructions. Allow the joined pieces to cool down before using. 

Fabric ribbon has been made out of cotton fabric, each of the two sides feature a design in jewel tone colors, one side has a Christmas tree repeating design and the other has small squares of coordinating colors in varying pairings. The ribbon, along with several small wooden spools with 2” strips of fabric in the same designs, is laying on a wooden table.
Fabric created with two different designs in one!

Your custom ribbon is done! I loved pairing my new ribbon with a neutral wrapping paper. I also used ric rac from my stash and made some pom poms to tie on. I love using things from around my home and making quick little doodads to decorate my gifts. Something attached to a wrapped gift, that can be used again either as an ornament or hung on the wall, is always a bonus. I have some handmade gifts to wrap and I want the wrapping to feel as special as what’s on the inside. 

Three presents are on a table, all wrapped with fabric ribbons tied in bows. Two hands are tying the bow on top the present toward the bottom middle of the image. The bottom middle and right present are tied with fabric ribbon with a design featuring small squares of coordinating colors in varying pairings. The present to the left has been wrapped with ribbon with the small squares design on one side and a Christmas tree repeating design on the other.
What presents wrapped in with your DIY ribbon will look like!

Now that you can make your own ribbon, nothing can stop you from always having the best decorated gifts. You can even use your ribbon to make bows to tie on wreaths, trees, bouquets or anything else you can think of. Use scraps left over from your DIY gifts to coordinate your gift wrapping to the gift inside! Scan in kids drawings to create your own fabric ribbon designs to use for decorating family gifts. Have a very specific need for a ribbon featuring snails with baubles for shells? Spoonflower has so many designs and the ability to upload your own design, so you can always make that perfect ribbon you’ve always wanted.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of fabric can I use to make fabric ribbon?
Lisa is using Petal Signature Cotton for her ribbon. Other cottons like Cotton Poplin and Organic Cotton Sateen are good options as well, as is scrap fabric, but we’d suggest you test those out with small pieces of ribbon to see if they look as you intend!  
Do I have to make my ribbon two sided?
Not necessarily! There are instructions in this tutorial if you’d prefer to create ribbon that only has a design printed on one side.
How long should my ribbon be if I’m making fabric ribbon to wrap a present?
Lisa suggests if you want to make just enough ribbon for wrapping a gift, you can use a string or piece of yarn and tie that around your gift making a bow and making sure you have your tails as long as you want them. Use that piece of string or yarn to determine how much ribbon you’ll need to make.
How wide should my ribbon be?
Lisa is making ribbon that is 2” wide in this tutorial. However, how wide you make your ribbon is up to your own preference!

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