How to Cut a Ribbon so it Doesn't Fray

Things You'll Need

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

It is nigh impossible to get through life without the experience of cutting ribbons. 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 without counting cell division. 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.

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.

About the Author

Raised in the great white north of New Hampshire, Matt Greene is a graduate of Ithaca College; and has lived in Boston, NYC, and London. A published poet and seasoned advice columnist, he juggles full time fatherhood with the rest of life's vicissitudes.