The Ultimate Guide to Curling the Gift Ribbon

gift ribbon

There are several ways to curl ribbon, whether a curling ribbon for a gift wrap or a piece of ribbon for a hair clip. The striped ribbon can be easily curled with scissors while the curling fabric ribbon is a little more complicated. It must be baked or treated with a starch solution. Still, it’s not difficult at all!

Use ribbon

Cut the ribbon to the desired length.

If you are not quite sure, first cut off about 30cm. If that’s not enough, you can cut off a longer piece. Keep in mind that if you curl it, it will get much shorter.

Find the “natural direction” the ribbon curls in.

Even when the ribbon isn’t already curled, there’s a direction it tends to go from the start. Follow this direction when using the scissors to curl.

See which side is glossy and which is matte.

The matte side must be facing down when curling the ribbon with the scissors. The gift ribbon always curls, so the nicer, shiny side is on the outside afterward.

Take one end of the band between your thumb and forefinger and pull it as tight as possible.

It’s up to you whether you want to tie the ribbon around the gift first before curling it or if you want to curl the ribbon first. However, it’s easier to tie the ribbon around the gift first because you only have to hold one end. Otherwise, you’ll have to glue one end somewhere so you can curl it easily. Hold the band in your left hand if you’re right-handed or in your right hand if you’re left-handed.

Hold the scissors open and with one blade up.

Place your fingers over the center of the blades and handles (around the X formed when the scissors are open). Your thumb should be pressing the curling ribbon against the blade of the scissors.

Press the matte underside of the ribbon firmly against the blade of the scissors.

Make sure the tape is still matte side down.

Pull the ribbon over the blade while continuing to press firmly.

This movement needs to be quick so that the pressure can curl the ribbon. You must do this part quickly. Otherwise, the ribbon won’t curl. On the contrary, under certain circumstances, it can become even smoother.

Release the ribbon.

Now it should curl up nicely all by itself. If it doesn’t, or at least not as much as you’d like, you can try again. If it doesn’t work again, you’ll have to cut a new piece and try with that.

Squiggle fabric ribbon with starch solution

Gather your materials.

While you’ll need a few more things than just curling regular ribbon, this method doesn’t take that long either. And a fabric ribbon that you have lovingly curled gives every pretty gift wrap that certain something. Find a wooden stick (a pencil or small wooden stick will do) to wrap the ribbon around. A larger diameter makes larger squiggles, a smaller diameter makes smaller ones. Cut a piece of ribbon. The width doesn’t really matter, it all depends on your taste and the intended use. Cut off a bit more than you need since the curling will shorten the ribbon. Mix cornstarch and water in a spray bottle. Get some clothespins or clamps, or use duct tape.

Mix one tablespoon of cornstarch with about half a liter of water.

Shake the mixture well until you are absolutely sure that the starch has completely dissolved.

Attach the ribbon to one end of the stick.

You can do this with a clothespin or clip, but you can also tape the ribbon in place with tape. Just make sure the ribbon is securely attached because if it comes loose during the drying process, it won’t curl well.

Wrap the ribbon around a wooden stick.

You should make this just as narrow or generous as you want the squiggles to fall later. As already mentioned, the diameter of the later squiggles is determined by the diameter of the stick (or whatever you use). Don’t overlap the tape as you wrap it, or the starch solution won’t get to the overlapping areas. Tape or clip the end of the ribbon, so both ends are securely attached.

Spray the band with the starch solution.

Don’t soak the band in the solution, but make sure it’s completely covered. If individual areas are not fully sprayed, they will not become stiff enough to hold their shape.

Let the tape dry.

It needs to be completely dry before you unwrap it. Otherwise, it will lose its shape again. It can take a while to fully dry, so it’s a good idea to curl the ribbon early enough to be sure it’s done when needed.

Remove the clothespins and slide the ribbon off the stick.

The ribbon should now be stiff and curled. You can still easily reshape it to attach it to a gift box, but be careful not to let it get wet or it will lose its pretty curls again.

Curl the ribbon in the oven

Gather your materials.

You’ll need a little more material than the starch solution method, and it’s also a bit more time-consuming. Baking the ribbon into nice squiggles can take a while, and you’ll need to monitor this process instead of simply air drying. However, this method makes the squiggles slightly less stiff than the starch method. Get your ribbon. It will always get a little shorter as it curls, so trim it generously. Take a wooden stick or skewer to wrap the ribbon around. Find clothespins to hold the ribbon in place. Use a spray bottle to mist everything with water before putting it in the oven. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. This is where you will bake your ribbons.

Wrap the ribbon around the skewer and secure.

The ribbon needs to be wrapped tightly enough so it won’t slip off or lose shape when you bake it. It should also not overlap so it can be evenly moistened with water. Secure the ribbon or ribbons at both ends with clothespins.

Spray the ribbon with water.

You don’t have to get it completely soaked, but feel free to give it a good spray and make sure there aren’t any dry spots. This is the only way to ensure it won’t burn in the oven. Spray the clothespins at the same time so that they don’t burn in the oven either.

Bake the ribbon at 95 degrees Celsius for about 10 minutes.

Place the wrapped ribbon on the aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. The exact time depends on your oven. If it takes a little longer, that’s completely normal. In the US, that would be about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take the band out of the oven when it’s completely dry.

Check it constantly during baking to ensure you don’t leave the ribbon or ribbons in the oven too short or too long. Take them out when they are completely dry. Also, check the underside to make sure it is completely dry on all sides.

Remove the ribbon from the stick when it cools.

Your ribbon should now be curled up nicely. It will keep this shape as long as you don’t let it get wet. You can use it to decorate a hair clip or give a gift wrap that special finishing touch.


If you increase the pressure on the curling ribbon as you curl, it will curl tighter. Repeat the process if the ribbon didn’t curl enough on the first try. Be sure to reposition the blade of the scissors on the same side of the ribbon. The next time you have a gift wrapped, watch the savvy clerk carefully as they do it when you buy it in-store. You might even ask if he can show you how to do it. Make several pieces of curling ribbon and tie them together with a piece of wire in the middle; then, you must attach them to the gift.


Be careful with the scissors as you cut or press down on the blade with your thumb to curl the ribbon.


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