Saturday, May 12, 2012

Faux Hand-Dyed Ribbon: A Tutorial

I love hand-dyed ribbons.  Anytime I see them at a store or craft fair, I am instantly drawn toward them if only to just run them through my fingers and stare at their beauty.  I have a nice selection of brown and orange hand-dyed silk that I purchased 2 years ago which I can't seem to use…mainly because I just love to look at it.
Hand-dyed silk is stunning and there is nothing like it.  But can be expensive to use in bulk and traditional dyes are complicated, messy, and can be dangerous.  Luckily there is a quicker, easier, and cheaper way.

Hundreds of Etsy shops are offering  "hand-dyed seam binding" and I've seen it in local gift shops.  It runs $5-6 for 3-5 yards.  While this doesn't sound very expensive, consider that I pay $9.50 for 100 yards of seam binding and suddenly it doesn't seem like such a great deal.

Start by purchasing your own seam binding.  I like to buy the brand Snug Hug which I get from The Zipper Stop.  Zipper Stop has both an Etsy shop and a website; as far as I can tell the prices are the same.   Snug Hug seam binding comes in many many colors- I'd say there are 100ish.   

How to dye your own seam binding…. Let's start by looking at what makes hand-dyed ribbon so amazing.  To me it is the texture and color variation that make hand-dyed ribbons so special.

Technique #1:  This technique uses colored seam binding as the base.
Colored seam binding
Spray bottle
Heat Gun
Spray like Glimmer Mist in a Clear or Matching color
  1. Cut the desired length of colored seam binding.  I like to pull off a few feet at a time... but you can do as little as a few inches or as much as many yards. 
  2. In order to end up wrinkled, the seam binding needs to be wet.  Here you have a choice. If you want the end result to be softer with softer, fewer wrinkles, use straight water.  For deeper, stiffer, and more wrinkles, use a spray like Glimmer Mist
  3. Wet the entire length of the seam binding until it is all saturated with the water or Mist.  It does to need to be dripping wet, just wet enough so that when you scrunch it into a ball it holds it shape fairly well for a few seconds.   
  4. Scrunch the seam  binding into a tight ball and allow it to dry.  It can be either air dried or dried with a heat gun.   I prefer to use the heat gun because it gives me a deeper, tighter, wrinkle.  Use tweezers to help keep the seam binding scrunched and to move it around and dry the entire length.   
  5. It is possible to use a combination of water and Glimmer Mist if you want to save on the amount of Mist you use. 
  6. If you want the deeper wrinkle achieved with a Mist but don't want to change the color of the seam binding, use a colorless Mist or a Mist that matches the seam binding closely.  
  7. If you don't want the bling-y sparkle from a product like Glimmer Mist, simply use a spray like one of the new Tattered Angles line, Plain Jane:  Baseboard or Simply Sheer.  These colors contain color without "adornments" of their other products. 
  8. To add depth to the colored seam binding simply spray it with a color that is a shade or two darker than your seam binding.   I darkened a red color by spraying it with a few shades of red and a couple of small squirts of Raven Glimmer Mist onto the already wet seam binding.  
Technique #1

Technique #2
Ingredients for technique #2
This version uses white ribbon- meaning you only have to keep one color on hand- and colored Glimmer Mist (or your favorite mist).  Again you saturate the entire piece of ribbon until it is saturated.  It is easiest to get the entire length wet by scrunching and spraying ,scrunching and spraying until the entire piece s wet.  If you want a lighter color you could add some water to help disperse the color.  The rest is the same as Technique #1.

  • Play around.  You can use more than 1 color on a piece.  The red/orange ribbon below was sprayed with 3 different Glimmer Mist colors (Santa Baby, Poppy, and Tutti Frutti).  As I mentioned above I used small amounts of a dark color to deepen a red ribbon.
  • Give the ribbon a tie-dye effect by leaving some areas uncolored like the pink ribbon below.  Because you are using a liquid spray, the color will disperse and you end up with a graduated color effect.  
  • Experiment with how tight you scrunch the ribbon, drying by hand and drying with a heat tool.  See what texture you prefer.  YOu can see that I have a variety of textures because that is what I like.  My favorite is a tight scrunch, dried with a heat tool, but if my artwork is soft and romantic or sophisticated then I prefer a softer ribbon.  This is all about what you like
  • Ribbon dyed using Techniques #1 and #2
  • Because you aren't  committing to big vats of dye you can dye as little as 2 or 3 inches at a time.  Dye on demand!
  • You certainly aren't limited to Glimmer Mist.  There are lots of mists on the market right now including Ranger's Adirondack Color Wash, Dylusions Spray, and Perfect Pearls Mist; Tsukineko's Fireworks Shimmer Spray, Inkadinkado's self titled Spray;  and Studio Calico's Mister Huey to name a few.
  • Glimmer Mist will bling your seam binding but they have a line of opaque Chalk Sprays and a new line of Baseboard Sprays that has no glitter at all.  
  • You can certainly use a homemade sprays.  
  • Play around with the colors: use pink seam binding with red spray or blue seam binding with purple spray.  
  • Red seam binding sprayed with Santa Baby- a red Glimmer Mist to deepen the color, add variation and texture.  
  • You can color white seam binding with other colorants as well.  Experiment.  You can add color with Distress Stains.  Run an ink pad over the seam binding to transfer color. I would think you would get the best results with dye-based or alcohol-based inks.  Spray this with water…or don't.  See what you get.
  • Seam Binding or other ribbons  can add a lot to a project. 

I linked this project up at the following Linky Parties:

Laters Baby….


  1. uhm, I think I'm in love!
    Come by for a visit!

  2. i am the buy the white snug hug seam binding and color it all the live long day. don't you just love how it hangs after it's been distressed and crinkled and given some character.
    now you make me feel the 'need' for a deeper selection of glimmer enabler you!


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