How to Make DIY Dyed Fabric Ribbon

Make your own dyed ribbon using acrylic paints and fabric scraps! Tutorial includes vintage style printable ribbon spools to store your DIY ribbon.
hand dyed ribbon around vintage style printed spools

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Do you ever find yourself strolling the ribbon aisle at the craft store, looking for the perfect color ribbon? Oftentimes I have the just right color in my head, but can't find it in reality. If that sounds familiar, this post is for you!

When you can't find the perfect ribbon color, it can be very frustrating! I can't wait to show you how to hand dye your own ribbon at home. It's an easy way to create exactly the color of ribbon you want for your project.

hand dyed ribbon, vintage ribbon spools
And for all your leftover pieces of handmade ribbon, I'll share a sweet tutorial to create your own vintage style ribbon holders, a quick design that you can make on your printer!

This entire project cost me just $4!

blush pink ribbon, embroidered trims, vintage ribbon spools

Let's get started!

How to hand dye fabric ribbon and make printed spools for storage

There are multiple ways to dye your own fabric ribbon. This past summer I dyed some cheesecloth for my son's wedding using RIT dye and it was pretty easy to do in the sink. This may be the way to go if you're looking for an even easier way to hand dye fabrics for a special project.

Back in February I was wanting some blush pink ribbon to hang on my vintage Valentines tree and couldn't find anything in the right color at the craft stores. I did find some blush ribbon on Amazon, but I didn't want to wait for it to be shipped. I know, I'm impatient!

You're going to be getting two tutorials today - the dyed ribbon, and the printed ribbon spools. We'll start with the DIY ribbon.

DIY fabric ribbon

fabric scraps, paint, water, foam brush

Supplies Needed

  • strips of white cotton sheeting and/or sheer fabric*
  • acrylic paints 
  • fabric medium
  • water
  • foam brush
  • surface to work on (old towel, cardboard, etc)
  • paper towels
  • something to hang ribbon from to dry (I used a clothes hanger)
* I had both an old white cotton sheet and a sheer curtain that I tore into strips. Make sure fabric has been washed and dried first.

The nice thing about making your own ribbon is that that you get to decide how wide you want it to be! I tore strips about 1-1/4" as well as some wider 2" strips.

You can cut the ribbon if you want straight edges; I prefer a little bit of fray, and find ripping the fabric to be the easiest and fastest. You'll need to snip a small bit at the edge and then tear down the rest of the way. If you're using a sheet or curtain with a hem, tear that off first.

Mix acrylic paint with water

I found I needed more water than I thought. I started with a 1:5 ratio of paint to water, but would do 1:8 the next time.

Be sure to mix well, the acrylic paint will take awhile to separate and mix into the water. Press the foam brush into the bowl as you're mixing so you don't get clumps of paint inside the foam. You also want to stir in the fabric medium at this time as well (follow directions on the bottle).

acrylic paint mixed with water

Lay ribbon down on flat surface

I used a long piece from a cardboard box under my ribbon. You could also use wax or parchment paper taped to the table. It's going to get messy, so have some paper towels on hand to mop up any messes! 

Brush paint onto fabric

Now you simply brush the paint onto the fabric strip, going over the same area a few times to saturate. I didn't paint both sides of my fabrics, I found the watered down paint soaked through well enough.

brush watered down paint onto fabric strip

dyeing fabric with acrylic paint

Some of my fabric strips were quite long, so after painting a section, I would lift it into a pile with my brush as I finished painting the rest of the strip.

Hang to dry

Once all your fabric strips have been dyed, you'll need to hang them somewhere to dry completely. They will drip, so if you hang them inside, be sure to use something underneath to protect your floors and catch the drips of paint. The best place to hang them is outside if possible.

Iron to set

After the dyed fabric ribbon is completely and totally dry, use a dry iron to set the color. This will also soften up the stiff fabric a little bit.

Tips for success:

  1. Don't bother ironing fabric first, the wrinkles will be removed as the fabric gets wet while painting it.
  2. Make sure to make enough paint so you don't run out and have to mix more halfway through.
  3. If you find the dyed fabric is too dark, you can run the strips under water to remove a little more paint. This also applies if the fabric is drying very stiff.

Like I said, I draped my dyed ribbon over a hanger to dry; however, I had to be very careful not to get wet paint everywhere! Even if your ribbon doesn't look overly wet after you paint it, any excess moisture will drip down and ruin your floors or carpet! So make sure you put down a drop cloth or something else.

I'm really happy with this project. It cost me nothing because I already had the paint and fabric on hand. The cotton sheet did dry a bit stiffer than the sheer fabric, so when I make my own ribbon again, I will only use sheer fabric (I used an old IKEA curtain) because it kept its softness.

Printed ribbon spools

You can make your own vintage style ribbon spools to store ribbon for a beautiful display. These printable cardboard ribbon spools have a vintage look and are perfect for the vintage lover. Wouldn't these look pretty displayed in a glass jar?

vintage trims wrapped around vintage printed spools

I purchased the printable file for these ribbon spools from a seller on Etsy. You can find them HERE. It was $4 for the file, but I have it forever to use whenever I want to make more of these. The instructions are included with the purchase, but I thought I'd show you how easy they are to make.

First, print the spools onto a sheet of printer paper. They are already colored with a vintage brown, so make sure to choose full color.

print spool design onto copy paper

Cut each spool out using scissors or an Exacto knife.

Next, trace the cut spools onto a piece of cardboard and cut out. I found the back of a cracker or cereal box is just the right thickness. Glue one of the printed spools to each cardboard spool using craft glue or Mod Podge.

cut cardboard spool shapes

Finally, to add a little more dimension to the printed ribbon cards, add a little brown ink to the edges (I used Distress Oxide in Vintage Photo). This is an optional step, but really does make the cards look better!

distress edges with ink

printed spools with distress ink

The last thing to do is wrap your hand dyed ribbons, and other embellishments around the spool cards. You can use a little piece of tape to secure the ends, or a small decorative pin. I happened to have these little heart pins on hand so I used them.

hand dyed trims wrapped around vintage spools

I would love to know if you are inspired to dye your own ribbons! What color would you make?

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hand dyed fabric ribbon and vintage style spools
bringing beauty to the ordinary,


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  1. Oh my goodness. This is just so pretty to look at... those printed spools look like real vintage packaging! Amazing.


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