How can I reuse or recycle ribbons from packaging/new clothes?

Over on the “Suggest An Item” page, Lizzy asked:

How about ribbons? I always nab ribbon from shop bought cake and the slightly more upmarket clothes tags thinking ‘That’ll come in handy’ but I never seem to find a use for it – especially ones with brand names written across them. Thanks!

I also add them to my craft stash too – but I doubt I’ll be using the branded ones in anything decorative any time soon. So suggestions?

The thin ribbons from new clothes are another challenge – they’re not long enough to use for many “tying up” tasks but are still useful for some things.

Anne says:

They make great gift labels along with old birthday cards.

And Alison Bailey Smith also uses them in her work:

I roll them with wire and then coils them or recently I have used them to wrap around combs when making fascinators with wire used to hold toys in place and flowers made from toothpaste tubes.

They also make great cat toys – tied together, they were just long enough to hang to cat-height from the door handles of our old house and just about every door had one for ongoing cat amusement.

What do you do with them?

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10 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle ribbons from packaging/new clothes?”

  1. anna says:

    Sew them together in long stripes and then use as patchwork.
    Once you’ll have enough they will make an awesome bag, patch for fixing clothes – or anything where some nice fabric will be for use.

  2. carol says:

    I would be lost if I did not add them to my scrapbooking projects.

  3. Mary Horesh says:

    My mum has always used ribbon creating hanging loops on coats and especially tea and bath towels.

    Also you can just use ribbon instead of when you use string in the garden.

    I also use it when I make reusable bags as the pull string.

  4. Laura K says:

    Wrinkled ribbon can be run thru a flat iron to make it look like new. Ribbon with writing on it– sew that side down, sew/glue it to another piece of material/ribbon. Ribbon can be used as a book mark–punch a hole in an old playing card & attach the ribbon.

    I use ribbons, tags, etc in my art journals.

  5. Learn ribbon macrame craft and make Christmas ornaments, luggage tags, keychains and other knick-knacks to give away. Once it is woven and plaited, you can’t see the brand names printed on them as much. I don’t know which websites are the best, but in school, the girls used to have these little booklets which teach you how to make macrame crafts from ribbon or cord, and you could make dragonflies, flowers, Chinese knots and so forth.

  6. Lizzy says:

    Ahhh – so many wonderful things that just never occurred to me !

  7. Riotflower says:

    I have used this type of ribbon to embellish small sewn wallets or fabric cuffs…any small sewing project gets a strip of ribbon or two.

  8. Simon says:

    You may not have any use for a load of Ribbons but I would bet that any local primary or first school could think of a few if you donated them!

  9. addy says:

    i heard about one woman who takes flip flops and ties ribbons around the strap part, so all the ends stick out all over. they look kind of silly for adults, but they are very cute on little kids.

    here’s a picture of the end result:
    another idea is to use them for “purses” for little kids. you take a cardboard food box (like a cereal box, or oatmeal box, etc), take off the top part, poke a hole in two sides, and put the ribbon through and tie it. you can decorate it, or the child can decorate it, or leave it plain.


    • Ornella Trevisan says:

      I recycle ribbons and unused wooden frames at the same time by weaving the ribbons and sticking them to the frame with glue.
      No problem at all if there’s a name on the stripe. In fact they are a nice addition.
      If the frame is small, the stripes from clothes are the best, while with big frames the larger ribbons can be used. In order to cover the corners I need short bits, so there’s very little waste indeed.

      Their usage can be double, especially for large panels: as well as being decorative on a wall, I use, for example, the very first one I made against the small window of the spare room, as curtains. The effect of light, when the day comes, through the ribbons is stunning and makes the panel seem quite different from when the light goes against it.

      A lot of ribbons are needed for this work, so I have started collecting them on the local internet group that exchanges/recycles things for free.

      Fabric ribbons, or fabric-looking are best, as regrettably some shiny plastic ribbons in the oldest panel have subsequently started to crumble. I’m not using those any more.

      Ribbons carry within themselves such a lovely connection with giving, parties, love, family meetings, friends reunions, as well as with flowers (=nature), soaps, chocolate, colour, light, creativity. I must stop here, but
      I’d encourage everyone to weave them.

      I wish I knew how to send a picture…

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