How to Cut a Ribbon so it Doesn't Fray

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Whether you're wrapping presents, decorating, participating in grade school art class, or dedicating that new hospital you have built as a charitable tax write off, ribbon cutting is as close to a universal human crafting experience as one can get. As such, every time a ribbon is cut, the same peril arises: the dreaded fray. Nothing can so effectively ruin what is intended to be the final piece of flair on a project than the unkempt ends of a ribbon falling apart.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp scissors
  • Ribbon
  • Clear "Scotch" tape
  • Candle
  • Iron
  • Clear-drying glue
  • Hairspray
  • Clear nail polish

Cutting the Edge

  • Determine where and how you wish to cut the ribbon. Note that angled cuts are, in general, less likely to fray.

  • Place clear tape over the site of your intended cut. With the sharpest scissors possible, cut the ribbon through the tape.

  • Remove the tape after cutting to expose the newly trimmed edge.

Options for Sealing Synthetic Ribbons

  • Hold the newly cut edge approximately 1/4-inch from the candle, allowing the heat from the flame to slightly melt the end of the ribbon. Be careful not to set the ribbon on fire!

  • Run a hot iron quickly over the edge you have just made. Use a medium heat setting, to avoid melting the ribbon. If you are using an iron without variable settings, place a paper towel between the iron and the ribbon as you sear the edge.

  • Practice these techniques on a non-essential piece of the same ribbon to determine the speed at which you will move the iron.

Options for Sealing Any Ribbon Type

  • Apply a small amount of clear-drying craft glue to the cut end of the ribbon. Remove any excess so that the end of the ribbon is only slightly dampened.

  • Spray the end of the ribbon with hair spray to seal the cut edge. Test the hairspray on a non-essential piece of the same ribbon to determine possible color side effects.

  • Apply a small amount of clear nail polish to the end of the ribbon. Test the nail polish on a non-essential piece of the same ribbon to determine possible color side effects.

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