Working on Your Belly

Every field of endeavor has its own vocabulary and so it is with gift wrapping. From the bone folder and the hot gun to trimming, tassels and twines. From  grosgrain, jacquard and picot edge ribbons to faux bois, otami and paisley patterned paper. We have wrapping styles such as Tsutsumi and Furoshiki  and endless ways to fold and pocket and present. But one of my absolute favourite wrapping technique is the belly band – a strip of paper placed around a wrapped gift. Not rocket science but a look that can be out of this world.

The gift wrapping belly band goes by a number of names – belli band, skinny wrap, wrap band, gift banding, narrow roll – which all refer to the seemingly simple trick of using a thin band of paper to add eye appeal, texture, colour and pop. The belly band also has a number of appealing attributes – you can use thick paper that would otherwise struggle to hold a crisp corner fold, it is a great way to sparingly dole out your absolutely most favourite paper and it is a great way to use your paper remnants. Dear husband,  this is why I never throw paper out

The key to a fabulous belly band is getting the edges straight and the width in proportion to size of the gift. First to the edge. We all know you can buy thin rolls of belly band paper which are commercially cut and which look crisp and beautiful. I always have a belly band roll of gold gloss and red kraft on hand. But by far more often than not I use a strip of paper which I fold under at the sides to give a polished look. The most important thing is to get the folds straight so that the strip is of a uniform width. You can go by eye but nothing beats a few little check in marks with a ruler and pencil.

Width really is about personal choice. Do you go with a wide band covering most of the gift or a thinner band that will reveal most of the base paper? If you have a plain initial wrap – say kraft or white gloss or a plain paper, then a wide belly band looks wonderful and you aren’t wasting the pattern of the paper beneath. If you have a thinner belly band, the pattern of the underlying paper will have more of a chance to shine.

A belly band is essentially a layer, so you could use more than one layer of paper to give added interest or a layer of paper and then other embellishments like ribbon, twine or cord. Layer upon layer upon layer. If we are going for added interest, the edges of the belly band could also be cut with specialty scissors to give a wavy ric rac or scalloped look. While most of us would go for a matching tonal or complementary colour, a belly band in a loud and proud clashing print can pack a punch. And let’s not forget texture – a plain paper could be matched with a rag cotton paper or a flocked paper or even glitter or pebble paper.

You could of course go belly band lite. Simply wrap a belly band around a gift – no layer of paper beneath – and affix with some beautiful twine or ribbon. Stunning simplicity at its best which works really well with a book, especially if the cover is fabulous as many covers are. I did a full belly band yesterday with my peonies so I have gone with the BB lite look today.





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