How to Dye Ribbon Using an Easy Hand Dye Method

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Are you wondering how to dye ribbon?  This article shows you how to easily hand dye your own ribbon in only a few hours.  

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Creating beautifully wrapped gifts is a favorite past time.  It’s always enjoyable to create a custom wrapping job that reflects the individual you are giving the gift to.  However, using beautiful ribbon can be cost prohibitive.  Also, I prefer to use ribbons made from natural products and materials like silk, cotton, and linen. It can be challenging to find ribbons made out of natural materials since most of the rolls sold in stores are made using nylon or polyester.  

So, I was inspired to try to dye ribbon on my own.  It was surprisingly easy and fast.  For some reason, I was expecting it to be a much more time consuming and complicated task.  Without further delay, let’s jump into the process.

How to Dye Ribbon

As with any project, the first thing we will need to do is gather our supplies.  Since I was experimenting with dye, I decided to use two different types of ribbon.  The first was some silk ribbon made from Indian saris and the second were fabric strips of a cotton/linen blend fabric.   

Although you can use natural dyes for this project, I opted to use dyes made by RIT.  Having said that, many people have had success using onion skins, turmeric and beets to dye fabric.  Martha Stewart has a great article on using and making plant-based dyes.  You can read it here: dying fabric using plants and vegetables

You can also use acrylic paint to dye fabric or ribbon. If this is something you are interested in, Color Me Crafty has an a good post on how to dye fabric using acrylic paint.  A similar strategy can be used with fabric paints. 

Supplies

Here is a list of supplies used for this project.  Where possible, I have provided links to online resources.  However, most of these supplies can be found at your local craft stores.

Assemble your Ribbon

It should be noted that the color of your ribbon will depend upon the type of material your ribbon is made from.  As noted previously, I recommend avoiding any synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester.   Instead use all natural materials or natural fibers such as cotton, silk, or linen.   For this project, I cut the strips of a piece of fabric that was a blend of linen/cotton into sections that were between 12 inches and 36 inches long.  This helped prevent the ribbon from getting tangled and knotted during the dying process. If you choose to have ribbon longer than 36 inches in length – just be aware that it may get tangled during the dying process.  

Make a Dye Bath

Fortunately, dying ribbons does not require a large pot of hot water.  I simply filled a stainless steel pot with water and set it on the stove over low heat.  Then, following the directions on the RIT Dye bottle, I added some dye, vinegar and a little bit of dish soap.  When the water was just about to boil, I added the ribbon.   For each dye color, I made a separate dye bath.

Dye the Ribbon

For this project, I used the following RIT Dye colors in the liquid dye containers.

To vary the intensity of color of the ribbon, I let them sit in the dye bath for either 30 minutes or 15 minutes.  If you let the ribbon remain in the dye bath for a longer amount of time, the ribbon will have a richer and more saturated color.  

Varying the amount of time the ribbon remains in the bath will give you different shades of a color.  Think of the variation from pastel pink to a brilliant red. Varying the types of ribbon material used with give you slightly different colors.  Think of the color variations between blue, purple and dark grey. 

Use a fork to stir the ribbon while it is in the hot dye bath.  I kept a paper towel near each pot to rest each fork.  This prevented the dye from transferring to any other surfaces such as the counter top. 

Make sure you wear gloves anytime you are touching a dye bath. Otherwise your hands will also get dye on them.

When the appropriate amount of time has elapsed, remove the ribbon from the dye bath and run it under cold water.  Keep rinsing the fabric until the water is clear and there are no traces of the dye colors.  Again, I recommend wearing gloves during this process.

Now you are ready for the drying process – simply drape the ribbon over a hanger and let it dry.  It took a couple of hours for the ribbon to fully dry. 

It was interesting that they pearl grey dye appeared to have more of an indigo blue tone.

Iron the Ribbon

Truth be told, this step is optional.  However, when the ribbon gets wet and dries – it can look rumpled.  This was especially true for any silk ribbon that was dyed. So, using a dry iron set on a low heat, I quickly ironed each strip of ribbon.  

End Result

How to Dye Ribbon

As you can see from the photos, I was happy with the end results.  You can see the variations in color depending upon the type of fabric used and how long the fabric remained in the dye solution.  The silk ribbon definitely absorbed the dye the best and came out with the prettiest hues. 

Feel free to pin the images below if you want to bookmark this post for future reference.

How to Dye Ribbon

All in all the process took about 3 hours.  I think having your own hand dyed ribbon provides a beautiful addition and unique touch to any gift.  Even if you use them to tie a bow on cellophane bags, it still adds a personal touch. 

How to Dye Ribbon

If you are trying to dye your ribbon a very specific color, I would encourage you to set up multiple pots dye baths of the same color.  Then let different types of ribbons sit in the pots for varying amounts of time. In short, you will have to experiment to see what works best. 

Summary

If I had known how easy it was to dye my own ribbon, I certainly would have tried it sooner. This was a fun project for a cold winter’s day and was easily completed in an afternoon. The total time invested was around 3 hours, which includes the drying time for the ribbon. It’s worth noting that the silk ribbon dried very quickly. The linen/cotton blend took a little bit longer.

I can’t wait to use this ribbon to wrap some gifts for friends and family members who have some birthdays coming up!

Thanks for stopping by the blog today. I hope you found some inspiration.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

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This post on how to make easy tissue paper flowers.

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This post on how to make a paper wreath from old paper.

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17 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh, the ribbons came out so beautifully! I would never have thought to dye my own ribbons, how fun to have complete control over the color shades and saturation. A perfect afternoon project for a gray winter’s day. Thank you for the clear instructions.

  2. Anna, these ribbons are gorgeous! I love that you created your own and how you can easily customize the colors and vary the shades too. They look so bespoke it seems like they would take longer than 3 hours. I’m excited to try this now too. We’re always looking for fun ways to dress up packages and wreaths and for winter craft ideas as well. It helps pass the time waiting for spring to arrive! Big hugs, CoCo

  3. I love this, Anna! These ribbons are gorgeous. I have never tried this, but am intrigued and want to give it a try! I am excited to feature your post at this week’s Tuesday Turn About Link Party. Thank you so much for sharing!

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