Ribbon 101

Have a question about ribbon? We have answers! Continue to read to learn more about various factors that set ribbons apart from one another or scroll to the bottom to visit our Ribbon Glossary.


Several factors make ribbons different from each other, but the most important factor is the material--or fiber--from which a fabric is made. A variety of manmade & natural fibers can make fabric. A second important factor is the fabrics "weave". The weave of the fabric determines the fabric’s type & uses. The third factor you may want to consider when selecting a ribbon is whether or not it is a wired edge ribbon. Last, you will need to determine the correct width of ribbon to be used.

Ribbon Wash Care

Get the most out of your Offray ribbon by utilizing our Ribbon Guide to Care Symbols chart. Match the symbols on the chart to the ribbon spool you purchased. This chart will aid in recommended cleaning care for all ribbon fibers. 

Types of Fibers

Synthetic Fibers


+ Created by humans, synthetic fibers are not found in nature. Synthetic fibers are widely used in both fashion and utility fabrics.


+ Some fabrics made with synthetic fibers, such as nylon and acetate, are often used for waterproof projects.


+ One disadvantage to synthetic materials, however, is that they are often more sensitive to heat than natural fibers, and have a tendency to melt when ironed or tumble-dried at too-high temperatures.


+ Other manmade materials used in fabrics include acrylic, polyester and rayon.

Natural Fibers


+ Natural fibers are created from materials found in nature. Fabrics made with natural fibers are generally more breathable and heat-resistant than synthetic fibers.

+ Cotton is a natural fiber widely used in all corners of the fabric spectrum because of its durability, wide availability and easy dye-ability. Cotton fibers are derived from the seedpod of the cotton plant.

+ Other natural fibers include silk, which is made from the cocoon of the silkworm; linen, made with the stalk of the flax plant; and hemp, ramie and jute , all of which are derived from the processed fibers of different plants.

Types of Weave

There are there are 3 main types of weave- plain weave, satin weave and twill weave.


Plain Weave - used in fabrics that need to be flat, tight, and accept dyes and other finishes easily. This is the most common weave.

Satin Weave - used in fabrics such as brocades and satins . This is a more supple variation on the plain weave.

Twill Weave - similar to the plain weave, though it is heavier, more flexible and more soil-resistant. This is used for heavier fabrics, such as denim.

Wired or Non-wired Ribbon?

Wired ribbon, commonly referred to as Wired Edge Ribbon, is ribbon with pieces of wire sewn into each side so that it is more rigid than plain ribbon. Typically, the wires in wired ribbon run down either side of the ribbon, and they are covered by the edging of the ribbon so that they are not visible. 


Some variants on the design use a single wire run down the middle of the ribbon, for more flexibility. There are a number of uses for wired ribbon, and the material comes in a wide range of sizes and designs as well as textures. Most commonly, wired ribbon is used for projects that will call for the ribbon to hold its shape without drooping, such as home décor crafts or some packaging, including gift baskets.


Another wired edge alternative is a monofilament edge, which is a created with a fishing wire or soft copper wire. This type of edge is often described and has having “memory” and often does not need to be re-fluffed, as a wired edge ribbon might be.


Ribbon Widths

3/8” – 5/8”

Ribbons of these widths are primarily known as “trim ribbon”

or “narrows”.

Ideal for embellishing a gift or use

in a scrapbook project

Often used by florists is corsages and boutonnieres

7/8” – 1” – 1 ½”

Most common widths for

packaging ribbon

Popular for embellishing gifts and creating multi-width bows

2” – 2 ½” 

Most popular widths for home décor, including wreaths and garland

Also useful for embellishing

gifts and bow making

4” and Above 

Trendy and found in upscale fabrics

Used for bow making, garland mantles, wreaths, chair ties, gift wrapping and more

Often used in floral designs

Ribbon Glossary

Selecting the right type of ribbon your project can be tricky so we’ve put together a glossary of ribbon terms to help you find the perfect ribbon for your craft, sewing project, gift packaging and much more.


Ribbons woven from acetate thread in a satin weave. This tends to be a stiffer ribbon with a satin finish and is commonly used in floral arrangements, pew bows and packaging.


Woven fabric that features a raised pattern that is emphasized by contrasting surfaces and colors.


Brushed Sateen
Sateen fabric that is brushed to give a texture and feel that simulates a suede fabric that is more affordable.

A strong, coarsely woven cloth that is made of fibers of jute, flax or hemp. Burlap made with hemp fibers tends to be slightly softer that other versions.


Pronounced gro-grain, this durable yet supple woven ribbon features characteristic crosswise ribs that it enough body for a crisp appearance and make it ideal for a wide variety of projects.


Feather Edge 
A double face satin ribbon with fine loops along the edges. Also referred to as a picot edge.


This type of weave is used to product pictorial effects on ribbon. The term also is sometimes used to refer to ribbons with embroidery on them. Both embroidered ribbons and true jacquard have a pronounced “wrong” and “right” side, which should be taken into consideration when selected this style of ribbon for projects.


Fabrics constructed by interlocking a series of loops by hand or machine. Knitted fabrics tend to mold and fit easily to body shape, as opposed to a woven fabric that would tend to drape.


Man-made ultra-fine fibers that are available in acrylic, nylon, polyester and rayon. When woven these fibers produce and extremely drapeable, soft and luxurious fabric.


Ribbons that have a rippled or “watermark” appearance created through the weaving process.


Coloring that transitions from one hue to another. This look can be woven into the fabric (known as cross weave) or it can be printed.


A non-woven fabric that is a blend of polyester and nylon and is commonly used in the interfacings of garments.


Satin ribbons have a very smooth, shiny finish that appears on either one side or both sides of the ribbon. This is known as single face satin and double face satin, respectively. When choosing single face satin ribbon, you will find the opposite side has a dull appearance. These ribbons can be easily printed on and can be made from silk, nylon or cotton. When made from cotton these ribbons are referred to as “sateen.”


Ribbons referred to as “Sheers” are often made from Chiffon, Organdy or Organza, which are lightweight and feature an open weave


Taffeta ribbons are made from a lightweight fabric, which may or may not be translucent.The ends of taffeta ribbons tend to fray easily, which can be mitigated by cutting the ribbon on an angle.


Hexagonal, machine made mesh created from nylon.


Velvet ribbons feature a tight weave and low cut pile surface – the velvety side – with a plain underside. These ribbons require particular care so that the plush surface does become flattened and shiny.