Birdsong Bows: Free Hair Bow Instructions: How to "print" your own ribbon

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Free Hair Bow Instructions: How to "print" your own ribbon

Have you wanted to create your own made-to-match ribbon -- or have you seen it from other designers -- and just don't know how to do it? This quick, simple process allows you to print your own designs on ribbon!
If you've got graphic design skills, you can design your own graphics in strips to be applied to ribbon. If, like me, you're a little lacking in that category, there are several graphic artists who sell sheets of ribbon graphics in PDF format that you can print from you own inkjet printer. One of my favorites is Carol, of TicTacTogs -- her designs are amazing and she's already "reversed" the patterns for you, so you can apply them directly to the ribbon.
Supplies needed:
Inkjet transfer paper, seen below. I picked this up at my local big-box retailer, but it's also available at all craft stores. Purchase the lightweight kind for use on T-shirts. If you print on dark ribbon (which is unusual) you'll need to buy the dark-colored transfer paper. But I usually print on light-color ribbon, so I have this:

You'll also need:
A standard inkjet printer
A sheet of ribbon graphics
An iron
A flat, hard surface and possibly a thin, flat hand towel or pillowcase to protect it - nothing fluffy!
Ribbon (usually 7/8-inch ribbon)
Scissors for both paper and your ribbon (I use separate scissors for my ribbon to keep the blades sharp!)

Create a graphics page or buy a page of ribbon designs from a graphic designer. Here are the selections from TicTacTogs (wow, I just saw the sock monkey print; how deadly cute is that??)
Following the directions in the ribbon transfer package, print your sheet on an inkjet printer.

Using your paper scissors, cut the strips apart. My 10-year-old graciously modeled her hands for this tutorial.

Following the directions in the package (which involves removing water from your iron), iron your strips, print side down, onto your ribbon. Don't use an ironing board; use a flat surface and press firmly with a hot iron. You can put a thin cotton hand towel or pillowcase down to protect your surface.

Peel off the paper back, and voilå, you have your own printed ribbon! In this example, it looks like I could have pressed the image a little longer, but my daughter was getting impatient and she was the diva model, after all (grin). When you need to create longer ribbon, make sure you carefully line up your image strips so they match the pattern. Let your ribbon "set" for a day, but after that, it's washable.

Enjoy making your own printed ribbon! Use this for hair bows, key fobs, tags (you can print tags with your child's name and sew the ribbon into their clothing for school), and any other embellishment that requires ribbon!

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Blogger Jessica Stier said...

Genius!!!! There is no way I would ever have bought of that. Your idea of sewing them into clothes is so smart. Such a good idea. Thanks!!!!

March 9, 2011 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Lahryn's Bowtique said...

I tried doing this and my ribbon was hard afterwards? Is there someting I'm doing wrong?

March 20, 2011 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger Deanna McCool said...

The ribbon is a little more stiff but not hard....I never have trouble folding it like a regular bow. What type of transfer paper were you using?

May 14, 2011 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I tried this and love it. The only issue I had was the colors became completely different when I ironed them to the ribbon. It also made the ribbon very stiff and shinny. Is there a type/brand of transfer paper you recommend?

May 20, 2011 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Deanna McCool said...

Hi Kristin - I've just been using the one shown in the top photo. But I the color has more to do with the printer than the paper. If the color isn't coming out true, you can try to use the photo setting. You'll notice even in my pictures that the owls are a little less red than the original. If you play with the printer settings, it should help.

May 21, 2011 at 7:06 AM  
Blogger Tonya said...

Do you ever have problems with the transfer peeling once you fold your bow?? Mine have been doing that and I am trying to figure out what I am doing wrong. Thanks!

July 30, 2011 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger Deanna McCool said...

Tonya - wow, that's a bummer! You could try a slightly warmer iron setting and see if that helps. That's what I would do first, and then perhaps switch brands of transfer paper.

August 3, 2011 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm so exited to try this out! Are you using grosgrain ribbon? I'm worried about ironing out the "pleats" :)

August 5, 2011 at 7:41 PM  
Blogger Deanna McCool said...

Yes, I use grosgrain! You won't iron out the pleats. :)

August 23, 2011 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger Grammy2BnB said...

Hi Deanna, I am a "newbie" trying to learn to print my own ribbon I am using Avery #3271 Light Fabric Transfers (paper) and it is leaving a slick coating on the ribbon, any suggestions? Many thanks, Vickie

August 30, 2011 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Deanna McCool said...

Grammy - it does leave a little bit of a coating, because that's how the paper works. Some are slicker than others; you might try a different brand.

October 13, 2011 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger dp said...

Hi Deanna
I'm using the same paper and you show in the picture. It's leaves a coat over the ribbon, is this normal? Also do you wash the ribbon after?

November 10, 2011 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger Deanna McCool said...

Yes, it does leave a bit of a coating on the ribbon. It is washable, though.

OK gals - I'm going to do a Part II on this, testing different papers and printer settings, and "beating the ribbon up" by washing it in different settings, etc. Stay tuned! Sounds like it's time for a detailed, scientific approach.

November 13, 2011 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Heather Michelle said...

Thank you for the tutorial! I'm having so much fun making my own ribbon and saving a ton of money, haha! One question, I'm spending 7.98 on 6 sheets of transfer paper at Walmart, is there a cheaper place to get the paper?

February 8, 2012 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger BarbS. said...

OMG.....TU soooooooooooo much I have been trying to figure this out for months...U have made my day....

May 19, 2012 at 7:35 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi there! thank you for sharing such an awesome idea. i am however having some trouble having the white of paper matching up with the white of the grosgrain ribbon. you can totally tell i ironed it on there.. looks very tacky. any suggestions?

March 2, 2013 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger Deanna McCool said...

Hi Nichole - I am not sure about that problem! I wonder if it's the paper, or maybe your iron is too hot? Try turning down the iron's temperature a bit. If that doesn't work, try another brand of paper.

April 11, 2013 at 9:02 AM  

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