Printed grosgrain ribbon can be found everywhere, from the tie on a package in a chic little boutique to the featured motif at today's trendiest weddings. Of course, you can buy huge amounts from a business that sells wholesale ribbon, but what if you want just a couple of yards of ribbon for a special project? This easy and fun technique utilizes an inkjet printer and transfer paper to make fast, professional-looking printed grosgrain ribbons for any occasion or project.
Things You'll Need
Grosgrain ribbon, 3/4 to 1 inch in width
Inkjet printer with colored ink
Inkjet transfer paper
Printing grosgrain ribbon is not complicated, but a couple of skills are necessary for a good outcome. If you can use a basic word processing program, can select fonts and pick text colors and print on your inkjet printer, you are halfway there.
When at the fabric store picking ribbon, you will find many types. From silk ribbon to vintage ribbon, there are so many to choose from. Grosgrain ribbon is a good place to start and is easy to find in multiple sizes and colors at most fabric stores. Buy enough for your project, plus enough to run a few ironing tests.
Washing your ribbon is the first but optional step. It adds time to the project, but does assure the best chance at ink adhesion to the grosgrain ribbon from your inkjet transfer paper. To wash the ribbon, pull it off its spool and give it a little hand swish in some soapy water, rinse and then hang to dry. After the ribbon is dry, lightly iron so it's nice and flat.
Now that your ribbon is ready, it is time to get to the computer and open your word processing program and compose the text you want to put on your ribbon. Play around with size and font style. Remember, you need to stay in scale so the font is clear when small enough to fit on the width of your chosen ribbon.
Run a test copy of your font and text-size words on a piece of plain paper. Cut these out in strip form -- think Chinese fortune cookie strips -- and see how they compare to the size of your ribbon. If you got it right on the first try, good; if not, go back and adjust it.
When you have the right size and font, cut and paste this in your document for as many times as you are going to need it. Skip a line or two for each line of text. This will give you room to cut later on. Even with this, you will be able to get up to 100 impressions per inkjet transfer sheet.
When the document is full and you are ready to print, you are going to have to find the feature in your word processing program that lets you make a mirror image of your document. This is important, since the mirror image will print onto your inkjet transfer paper and then, when you flip it face-side down, it will then be in correct position to iron on. This is easy to do wrong, so look for your mirror image function.
When you have figured out mirror image printing, consult the packaging on your inkjet transfer paper for their specific details about printing.
Print your sheet; it should all read backwards. Consult your product directions again about any wait time. If there is none, you are in the clear; if not, go make a nice drink and get some snacks, since the next step is a tad tedious but easy nonetheless.
Now, it's time to cut the words or phrases into strips. Again, think strips like you find in a fortune cookie. Do not cut separate words apart, unless you want some sort of ransom note effect. Leave phrases or names whole if at all possible.
Consult the directions on the inkjet transfer paper once again as to temperature settings for your iron. Most grosgrain ribbon is a synthetic blend, so adjust accordingly. Cotton ribbon is available but can be harder to find.
Take your cut strips and lay them on the ribbon so you have nicely laid them out down the length of your ironing board. Think about your spacing needs. Will these be for ribbon tags, ribbon hair bows or maybe for tying up a gift? When you have decided on the spacing, do a test and position the first strip and iron according to directions.
Heat-set your word-image on the ribbon if instructed to do so; otherwise, you can create printed ribbons for any occasion you choose.
Always be careful with the iron and do not leave it unsupervised.
Be careful when using vintage ribbon; limited quantities don't give much room for "do-overs," but this can be worth the risk for the perfect effect.