The end of ribbons as we know it

Yes I am on a bit of a ribbon roll (no pun intended) at the moment. And today I am getting to the pointy end. Because how one treats the end of the ribbon is just as important as the overall look of the gift itself. No use whatsoever in having a beautifully chosen ribbon if the end is a frayed nightmare.

The treatment of the end of the ribbon can of course have both a functional and an aesthetic purpose. Woven ribbons cut blunt or straight will fray. End of story. Majorly open weave ribbons like burlap- well they simply unravel before your eye. So best to go with a range of cutting treatments that will put an end to that little issue.

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I am not a fan at all of the lighter trick wherein the edged is allegedly sealed with heat. It seems a lot of trouble to go to for the possibility of burning yourself and a ribbon. But if you’ve mastered that little trick, more power to you! There is also the nail polish trick – but all I can contemplate is a sad blobness with the potential to stick to paper. Both of these take time, something most of us don’t have.

When cutting a ribbon, regardless of style, there are a couple of important techniques required:

  1. Firstly – sharp scissors only. Best bet to have a pair of scissors designated only for ribbon cutting and which are never ever ever used for any other purpose.
  2. Secondly – hold the ribbon tight as you cut – not ridiculously tight, but tight as a floppy hold does not result in a sharp cut.
  3. Thirdly – cut the ribbon in one snip – definitely not a series of little hacks. Hacks area no no no no no.

So which finishing cuts make the cut? Let’s start with the pennant cut which I always feel makes a ribbon look quite formal. It’s very easy to get the V shape even. Fold the ribbon in half, and cut from the fold down to the open selvage. Doneski.


Now the 45 degree angle cut. Just cut from one side of the ribbon to the other with your scissors angled at 45 degrees. You can easily make the angle more acute or obtuse if you want to, giving a slightly different effect.


Next we have pinked. So you will need pinking shears. They are a little bit harder to find than they used to be but they are out there and it actually makes sense to get a good pair which will last you forever. Because of the wavy end, you can use the shears to cut bluntly across the ribbon.


Onto the point, which is really the reverse of the pennant. Fold the ribbon in half and this time cut from the selvage down to the folded centre. Bingo and balanced!!


Finally the double pennant. Such cleverness but usually only achievable with a relatively wide ribbon. Fold the ribbon in half and then in half again and cut from the folded centre to the selvage. A bit of a showstopper this one.

ribbon-double-penantWho knew there was so much to the end of ribbon? But it’s worth having a little think about so you get exactly the style and level of formality you’re looking for. And when you start focusing on it – it’s not the end but just the beginning.