Ribbon is a great art medium to use for all kinds of crafts, projects, and hobbies. However, manipulating this material can be difficult, especially when you need to keep your ribbon from fraying after cutting it. Fraying occurs when strands of the material come loose after you cut off an edge—this could lead to a complete unraveling of the fabric, which will ruin your art.
How you cut the ribbon and seal the edges afterward will affect this material’s longevity. Try the following methods that prevent this from happening so that you can create perfectly crafted projects.
How You Should Cut Ribbon
The first step in preventing the edges of your ribbon from fraying is to cut the material properly. You should never get too hasty with this step in your project; quickly shearing off the ribbon will leave broken edges that encourage fraying. In addition to taking your time cutting the ribbon, use sharp, high-quality scissors to cut the material; a dull edge will not make a clean cut and could potentially damage your ribbon more.
Try the following methods for a clean and precise cut on your ribbon.
Cut at a Diagonal
Cutting the ribbon at a diagonal or slight slant will minimize fraying because you’re not shearing off all the material in the same place. This works better for thicker ribbons, like our bulk grosgrain ribbon. If you’re in a hurry and need to move quickly, try cutting at a diagonal first, but try to cut at a slower pace to prevent fraying.
Cut a Wedge or Dove Tail
The other technique you can try is the wedge, dovetail, or “V.” This is where you take the end of a ribbon and make two cuts diagonal toward each other to create a “V” in the material. This cutting method may take some time to perfect, so try a few practice rounds on scrap pieces of ribbon before moving on to your project.
Methods That Prevent Your Ribbon From Fraying
After you cut the edges, you must keep the ribbon from fraying by using one of the three following methods. These techniques will produce varying results, but all in all, any one you choose will extend the life of your ribbon and prevent it from unraveling and fraying. If you do not do one of these methods with your ribbon, it could ruin your project or cause the material to look less uniform and luxurious.
Craft Glue Method
The first method you can apply to your ribbon uses craft glue or anti-fraying spray. If you’re completing a sewing project or plan on washing your creation, this is the method you should use because the glue will stay intact. Clear glue is the best alternative when you cannot find an anti-fraying liquid.
To begin, cut your ribbon using one of the two techniques above. Once this is complete, place a small amount of the glue onto a cotton swab and dab off any excess onto a paper towel. Next, swipe the cotton swab and glue along the edges where you made the cuts on the ribbon, flip the material over and repeat on the opposite side. Allow the ribbon to dry by pinning it in the air so that it does not stick to a surface.
Nail Polish Method
Similar to using craft glue, you can also use a clear nail polish—something you might already have handy! While any nail polish brand will work for this technique, try finding one that enhances longer wear so that your project can last without falling apart. You could even purchase a clear glitter polish to add style and personality to your ribbon.
After cutting your ribbon, pull out your nail polish and get started. Load the nail polish brush with enough liquid and wipe any excess down the bottle’s opening. To apply the polish, you can either lay the material flat on a table or hold the edges between your two fingers. Coat the edges of your ribbon with the polish and allow it to dry thoroughly.
Repeat this process one more time to ensure you’re sealing down the edges to prevent fraying. Do not spread too much polish on the material, as this could cause the ribbon to appear wet and darker than its original color. To avoid ruining your project, test this method out on scrap ribbon to ensure it will work on the type of material you’re using.
Flame & Heat Method
Beginners should not attempt this method until they are comfortable using heat and flame to seal the edges of the ribbon. You must be cautious when using this technique, or you could burn the material or damage your project. Be aware that you can only use this method on synthetic material like grosgrain or satin; burlap or cotton ribbon will start a fire.
To set up this process, light a tea candle and have a bowl of water nearby just in case you need to douse a piece of ribbon that catches fire. Do not attempt to hold a lighter for this method; you will not have as much control over the ribbon if you do not use a candle because you cannot use both hands to guide the material over the flame.
Once your ribbon is cut, pinch the material between two fingers. Please your fingers far enough from the end of the ribbon that they will be protected from the flame but close enough to keep the material stiff. Slowly drag the edges of the ribbon toward the candle’s flame but do not touch it. Move quickly and at a steady pace to seal the edges of the material. Allow the ribbon to cool down for thirty seconds—the edges should now be hardened. If they are not, repeat the process one more time, getting a little closer to the flame.
Take your time when sealing the edges of your ribbon; moving too quickly could cause more fraying to occur. Before using any of these techniques on your final project, test out each method on a spare piece of ribbon. Preventing frays will ensure the material’s longevity and give your art a more uniform and sophisticated look.