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Tutorial : How to Add Ribbon to Both Sides of a Project

Debbie Free Tutorial projects ribbon Trims tutorial

Last year we were asked by a local company to embellish some of their sweatshirts with ribbon. The main reason was to finish the edges of the zipper tape. So we pondered over just how we could do this. Just adding ribbon to the inside to cover the edge of the zipper tape would look nice, except you would see the stitching on the front side. So we decided  it would look much nicer to wrap the ribbon all the way around the zipper edges of the sweatshirt, which seemed incredibly challenging. As you will see by the end of this post, I was successful at it, and will be successful with 50 more sweatshirts this year!

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We unfortunately do not carry this particular colorway of Spinning Wheels. But we do have these!

One of the difficulties of sewing with Jacquard woven ribbon (most decorative ribbons), especially if it’s not double-faced, is that it shifts easily under the presser foot (unless you have a walking foot). So you could end up with a ribbon that is very askew once sewed on, and, at least in my experience, ribbon doesn’t respond well to unpicking. It also doesn’t respond well to pins.

Wrapping ribbon to the backside of something, and attaching it to both sides, is nearly impossible. Nearly impossible, that is, without the help of fusible tape! Currently I am using Heat-n-Bond hem tape because we had a bunch of it left over from a belt class. It’s best to use tape that is the same width as the ribbon, although you could cut the tape, or use two strips next to each other.

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You can see where the end of the ribbon was folded over and bonded to itself in an inconspicuous location.

It’s easier to use tape that has paper on one side, so you can adhere the adhesive side to your material, peel off the paper, and adhere the ribbon to the tape. The stuff I’m using has no paper backing, so I just lay down the tape with the ribbon on top and iron. This goes much faster. Also, it helps to have something to line up the ribbon to. Here I use the stitching from the zipper:

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Stitching with a microtex needle is a good idea, but I’ve had good luck using regular needles, as long as they’re fresh. Also, stitching with a short, narrow zig-zag is best. This has a good chance of catching the ribbon on the backside of the material. If it doesn’t, go over that area again with a zig-zag. I also think it’s less intrusive to the ribbon design than a straight stitch.

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I use this same method for adding ribbon to dog collars and leashes, belts, bag handles and trims, and… I think that’s all I’ve added ribbon to. Our Renaissance Ribbon sales rep, Sheila, had this Kaffe Fassett striped ribbon added to the button placket of a collared shirt. I keep intending to steal that idea, but I need to make myself a button-down shirt first. ‘Tis the season for it!

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