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   Make coasters from curling ribbon Posted by Chica 
April 21, 2009 


Years ago when I was a college student, I had a part time job in a card store. One day on the job, I was fiddling with the curling ribbon we used for balloons. As I twisted and curled it in my fingers, I found myself rolling it into a tight spiral. As it grew and I added more colors, I soon realized I had a really cool design forming, and without too much effort I would have a spiral of color large enough to use as a coaster. I bought some rolls of ribbon and that weekend I sat down and made several fun coasters by carefully coiling the ribbon around itself.

Ever since then, whenever I get balloons or gifts that are tied with curling ribbon, I save the ribbon in a special box in my craft room. When the box gets full, I pull it down and make more coasters. What a fun and easy way to recycle ribbon into a real conversation piece on your coffee table!

Selecting the ribbon

ribbon coastersYou probably haven’t been saving up used curling ribbon from balloons and packages (not yet, anyway), so you might need to buy some new ribbon to start on this project. You can use any curling ribbon you like, in as many colors as you like, as long as they’re all the same width (standard size is 3/8″). Fortunately, curling ribbon is the cheapest kind of all. The best way to go is to buy 500-yard spools of curling ribbon, which you can get for just a few bucks each. Six or eight of these large spools will give you enough ribbon to make one or two dozen coasters, depending on how big you make them. You’ll also have a great stash of ribbon in your gift wrapping supplies box! If you want to start small, look for an assortment of several colors, or shop the clearance shelves after big gift-wrapping holidays like Christmas.

Winding the ribbon

To start your coaster, just grab a piece of ribbon and roll the end up as tightly as you can. You have to have nimble fingers and be patient, but eventually you’ll get a nice tight spiral of ribbon. If you have trouble starting the coil, try wrapping the ribbon around a toothpick and pulling it tight. Once you’ve got a coil about a half inch in diameter, cut the ribbon off and use a tiny piece of tape to tape the ribbon on the side of the spiral. Now breathe a big sigh of relief, because the hardest part is done!

ribbon coastersribbon coasters

Now for the fun part. Pick your remaining colors and tightly wind them around and around the coil. Each time you want to change colors, cut off the current ribbon and tape the end in place, then attach a new end with another piece of tape. The tape you use should be regular household tape, and you’ll need to cut it into tiny strips that are more narrow than the ribbon itself. You need to make sure the tape doesn’t stick out past the ribbon on the top or bottom of the coaster, or else you won’t have a nice smooth surface. Once the coil gets about an inch wide, you’ll find it’s too hard to hold in your hands and wind, so just place it on the table and keep on wrapping. You need to wrap tightly, but don’t strain or pull hard, Just make it tight enough to be able to pick the coaster up without the coil falling apart.

ribbon coasters

You can see a lot of potential fun here with patterns and colors. You can make each stripe the same width, or random. You can use a couple of colors or many. Your only limit is your imagination! You can stop winding ribbon whenever you reach the size you like (4 or 5 inches across is a good range).

Coat the coasters

These coasters won’t last very long as they are, so we need to protect them. The easiest and most effective way to do that is to coat them with polyurethane. You can find polyurethane in the hardware store or the craft store, and it’s available in spray or brush-on varieties. You’ll want to apply several coats, until you get a nice, thick, glossy finish and the ribbon is sealed together very well. Coat the top and bottom and don’t forget the sides!

ribbon coasters

Let the polyurethane dry thoroughly before using the coasters. It will be dry to the touch after a few hours, but it may take 2-3 days to fully cure and be rock hard.

Apply the cork

To finish off the coasters and make them really look like coasters, you can add some cork to the bottom. Place your coaster on a cork sheet and trace around it with a pen. Then use scissors or a utility knife to cut about 1/8″ inside the line.

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Now use your hot glue gun to glue the cork onto one side of the coaster. Press into place.

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Voila! You’re done! Just wait til your friends see these awesome coasters on your table. It’s fun to see people guess what they’re made of.

ribbon coasters

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89 comments so far:

  1. Rachel said: (April 21st, 2009 at 3:42 pm)

    WOW-these are GORGEOUS! I love the colors and shine! Thanks for sharing, I’ll be linking.

  2. Cresanna said: (April 21st, 2009 at 8:33 pm)

    I love these! Thanks for the idea! I’ll be looking for curly ribbon at yard sales this summer.

  3. Jillian said: (April 21st, 2009 at 11:14 pm)

    These are the most gorgeous coaters I have ever seen! I told my hubby I have to make them and he looked at me weird, it figures. I always find curling ribbon at goodwill and I never buy it, guess I will now.

  4. Chica said: (April 22nd, 2009 at 8:52 am)

    Thanks ladies!

  5. Jedda said: (April 22nd, 2009 at 11:57 pm)

    I love this idea-and I admit I love curling ribbon too-perfect :)

  6. Caroline said: (April 23rd, 2009 at 11:44 am)

    Love this idea! I’m going to link to you on my blog.

  7. Chica said: (April 23rd, 2009 at 12:32 pm)

    Jedda, what’s not to love? :)

    Caroline, we’d love a link, thanks!

  8. Cathy said: (April 24th, 2009 at 3:07 am)

    Beautiful and creative idea. Will definitely try it out soon and send you pictures :)

  9. June Babeer said: (April 24th, 2009 at 1:26 pm)

    I saw the write-up in the newspaper and really enjoyed reading and knowing that you young ladies/homemakers are doing such great things and have such a lovely web site. I am 71 and enjoy crafting and all new ideas. Please keep up the good work. Our homemaker club need great ideas like yours to help us in our community. Thanks again and I now have you in my favorites column.

  10. Chica said: (April 27th, 2009 at 7:41 am)

    Thanks Cathy, we look forward to it. June, welcome to the site and we hope you find lots of fun project ideas for your club!

  11. Katie said: (April 29th, 2009 at 1:13 pm)

    Wow…this is a really creative idea! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Cynthia said: (May 1st, 2009 at 3:33 pm)

    Very cool–how creative you are!

  13. Jennifer said: (May 1st, 2009 at 11:39 pm)

    Those are so cool. I am totally making them!

  14. ginger said: (May 3rd, 2009 at 9:33 pm)

    What the coasters are so gorgeous.They look fun to make can’t wait to try them.
    Thank you for sharing them with us.

  15. Gracie said: (May 6th, 2009 at 10:21 am)

    These are so cute! I can’t wait to try this!!

  16. Rain said: (May 14th, 2009 at 5:47 pm)

    These are SO awesome!!

  17. sladie said: (May 14th, 2009 at 9:37 pm)

    This is so cool! This would be a perfect time-killer, and a good way to get rid of all the ribbon laying around. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  18. Craftzilla said: (May 27th, 2009 at 12:11 pm)

    So much curling ribbon! Those look amazing and must have taken some serious patience.

  19. *Rachie Homemaker* said: (May 30th, 2009 at 9:50 am)

    OMG this is a great idea for making record-esque coasters! wow…. ill have to find some black curling ribbon. ;)

  20. Chica said: (May 30th, 2009 at 8:55 pm)

    Rachie, I love that idea! If you make them, please share photos with us :)

  21. Christina said: (August 7th, 2009 at 12:34 am)

    Very cool looking! Actually I have been collecting curling ribbon…he he! I have gotten them on baby gifts etc. and thought they were too prety to throw away. Now I have a good use for them! Thanks! I will link from my blog!

  22. Chica said: (August 7th, 2009 at 7:15 am)

    Hi Christina! So glad we could inspire you to do something with that stash of ribbon!

  23. aprilleigh1974 said: (September 9th, 2009 at 2:32 pm)

    I love this idea and can’t wait to make them. Do you think it would work with satin ribbon too, or do you think it would be too flexible even with poly coating and cork base?

  24. Chica said: (September 9th, 2009 at 2:58 pm)

    aprilleigh1974, I love that you’re thinking of new ideas, but my guess is that satin ribbon won’t be stiff enough for you to make a tight coil without it falling apart. I also think the poly coating would soak into it, requiring a lot more coats to get a nice hard finish. Not to mention the fact that satin ribbon costs a lot more :) But hey, I could be wrong, so if you give it a try, please let us know how it comes out!

  25. aprilleigh1974 said: (September 9th, 2009 at 3:08 pm)

    Makes sense! Didn’t think about that. Thanks :)

  26. Angela said: (September 11th, 2009 at 11:30 pm)

    that’s cool!

  27. Angela said: (November 11th, 2009 at 8:11 pm)

    I have a question I bought the wrong stuff I bought clear acrylic sealer. Would this work? Thought I would ask? I hope so if not I will return it.

  28. Chica said: (November 12th, 2009 at 8:17 am)

    Gosh, Angela, I’m not sure. Depends on how thick it coats, I guess? You’ll want something that is specifically designed to provide a water-tight coating and can be applied repeatedly to build up the thickness. If the directions on your sealer sound like it will do that, you can give it a try. If not, you might want to try something else :)

  29. Angela said: (November 12th, 2009 at 8:20 pm)

    Chica – It is a clear sealer? I might give one set a try and see. Thanks I love the site. Thanks for the quick return.

  30. Chica said: (November 13th, 2009 at 8:13 am)

    Angela, what’s the exact brand and name? Maybe I can find it online and give you better advice. Or, like you said, just try it on one coaster and see how it goes.

  31. Lauren said: (November 14th, 2009 at 9:16 pm)

    aw man! I’m making one right now and it is so pretty!! I’m going to turn mine into Christmas ornaments and wrap the last outer edge with a shiny gold curling ribbon for an extra touch!

    Just a quick question: Do you think I should put the screw-hook in before or after the poly coat? is the poly coat too hard to put a small screw-hook into?

    Thanks for the awesome idea!

  32. Chica said: (November 14th, 2009 at 9:53 pm)

    Wow, Lauren, what a great idea to make ornaments! I think I would put the screw hook in before the poly coat. That way you have something told hold on to (or hang it from) when you’re applying the poly, so that it doesn’t touch the table.

    Please send us photos or post them to our Flickr group when you’re done. I’ve just got to see them!

  33. Lauren said: (November 14th, 2009 at 10:24 pm)

    Thanks for the really quick reply! Oh great idea hanging them while drying, duh. I’ll definitely add some photos to your flickr group when I’m all done! I’m going to the hardware store tomorrow to pick up some things and I’ll get the poly then. I’m really excited! I can’t wait to give these all to my friends and family!!

    I thought of more ideas while making my second one. If you make them a bit smaller they can be earrings and you can make a matching necklace pendant if you want or link a bunch together and make a charm bracelet. Or you could turn them into buttons or barrettes!

    I also wonder if there would be a way to make other shapes like ovals or triangles by using a piece of card stock to hold the shape in the middle and then pulling it out later. The ideas are endless! Ha Ha!

  34. Chica said: (November 14th, 2009 at 10:59 pm)

    You are a clever one, Lauren. Let us know how those fun ideas come out :)

  35. a. said: (November 28th, 2009 at 2:19 am)

    amazing idea, i am going to do this but do them about 6x and then make smaller and just different varying sizes and use them as a wall decoration.

  36. Lauren said: (November 30th, 2009 at 8:34 pm)

    hey, just wanted to say I added some ornament photos to your flickr. It’s just the first batch and I plan on making tons more! I hope you like them!

  37. Elissa said: (November 30th, 2009 at 8:59 pm)

    I’m new at this and I just made 10 coasters for an upcoming party. I know nothing about finishes and I used this polyurethane to cover them. They are all sticky and not dry after 3 hours. Now I am worried that they won’t get hard because this finish is made for wood. If they are ruined, I have no other ideas for my craft!! I’m panicked!!

  38. Jo said: (November 30th, 2009 at 10:29 pm)

    What a fantastic idea for making the coasters into ornaments for the tree! They look so great! Hey, readers, go check out Lauren’s curling ribbon ornaments!

  39. Chica said: (December 1st, 2009 at 8:15 am)

    Elissa, most polyurethane is intended for wood, so that is not a problem. However, 3 hours is nowhere near long enough to let it dry. The instructions for the brand you linked to say that it takes 24 hours to dry hard enough for light use, and I have experienced the same type of times in the past. Just be patient and eventually it will harden up :)

  40. Lauren said: (December 2nd, 2009 at 8:51 pm)

    Elissa, I used a minwax poly as well. I used the water based one because the drying time was halved and for easier clean up. They came out beautifuly. I let them dry outside over night each time I put anew coat on them. Good Luck.

  41. Elinor said: (December 31st, 2009 at 11:37 am)

    They are cute, but WAY too hard to make. I tried to make them, the first step took me over an hour, then ALL of the ribbon came off. Waste of time.

  42. Elinor said: (December 31st, 2009 at 11:59 am)

    I love these! They take a lot of patience. They are really fun and pretty. If you don’t have cork, you can use old coasters instead!

  43. Jo said: (December 31st, 2009 at 12:08 pm)

    Elinor, so glad you were able to get them to work. Sorry you had such a frustrating start!

  44. Kathy said: (January 27th, 2010 at 2:03 pm)

    These are so cute! What a clever idea. Thanks for such a great tutorial!

  45. Nicole said: (June 4th, 2010 at 2:26 pm)

    I’m about to make a set for my boyfriend’s apartment in black, dark blue, and bright green. And if all goes well a set for my mom in more fun, bright colours :D

  46. Jo said: (June 4th, 2010 at 2:29 pm)

    Nicole, we would love to see your finished coasters!

  47. Ana said: (June 12th, 2010 at 3:38 pm)

    I made a few of these, and I found that polycrylic (instead of the polyurethane) worked a lot better for me. The polyurethane yellows a bit when it dries, so my colors – especially the white – weren’t as vibrant as I was hoping. The polycrylic dried glossy and completely clear, and it has a faster drying time as well, though I think it took me a couple of extra coats.

  48. Chica said: (June 12th, 2010 at 6:14 pm)

    Ana, thanks for the helpful suggestion!

  49. Melissa Lane said: (July 2nd, 2010 at 5:56 pm)

    Got so excited about,getting started i stayed up all night..Showed my test projects to my teenager..She says they look like ribbon lollipops.Now we’re adding gold thread and popsicle stick.They turned out so well..Great idea.Keep Crafting..

  50. Jo said: (July 2nd, 2010 at 10:24 pm)

    We have got to see those! Please send us a photo or add one to our Flikr group. What a clever idea!

  51. kimbowest said: (September 26th, 2010 at 2:42 pm)

    gave you an award at my blog

  52. PeaceLoveTerri said: (September 27th, 2010 at 10:31 am)

    Oh my goodness.. So creative!!

  53. Joyce Finch said: (October 10th, 2010 at 9:50 pm)

    How clever and very pretty. Thanks for the instructions. How often beautiful things are made of the simplest products. Joyce

  54. Natalie said: (October 21st, 2010 at 7:51 pm)

    I love this project. I can’t wait to try it out. I just need to stop on my way home and pick up some ribbon. Thx for the great idea!

  55. Lori said: (November 20th, 2010 at 11:07 pm)

    HELP!! I made 2 coasters that looked great until I put the polycrylic on them. In a couple of places, the ribbon buckled or drew-up or something. Has this happened to anyone else? Does anyone know why this happened? (They were tightly wrapped….so I don’t think that was the problem.)

  56. Chica said: (November 21st, 2010 at 8:13 am)

    Lori that sounds really strange, and I have not seen that before. You’re sure the ribbon was plastic and not paper, right? I could imagine paper buckling with the moisture, but I plastic shouldn’t. Hmm… Was your first coat of polycrylic nice and thin? If you applied it too thick, maybe that would cause the buckling?

  57. Lori said: (November 21st, 2010 at 2:27 pm)

    I just double-checked…I used polyurethane and not the polycrylic. (I don’t think that’s the issue, though.)

    Chica…I did use the plastic ribbon. Maybe I did apply it too thick. I remember thinking that the ribbon really seemed to soak up the polyurethane and that I couldn’t even see where I had applied it. I added more poly until it looked “wet.” I didn’t think I was using too much, but I’ve never used polyurethane before….lol! Do you remember how many times you had to do a coat before the coasters got so shiny and amazing?

  58. Chica said: (November 21st, 2010 at 3:15 pm)

    You definitely want to apply the polycrylic / polyurethane thinly, especially for the first couple of coats. It might take between 5 and 10 coats to build up a really nice, smooth sheen.

  59. Lori said: (November 21st, 2010 at 6:58 pm)

    Thanks, Chica. I’ll make a new one, try again, and report back. :-)

  60. Tiffany said: (February 15th, 2011 at 10:11 pm)

    I made them!

    Thanks for the idea!

  61. Chica said: (February 16th, 2011 at 6:52 am)

    Great job, Tiffany. Thanks for sharing!

  62. Jodi said: (April 5th, 2011 at 5:56 pm)

    I’m totally making these for my coaster obsessed friend for her birthday!!!

  63. Lynda from Oz :-) said: (May 21st, 2011 at 9:21 pm)

    These coasters are beautiful, thank you for sharing your idea with us. Best Wishes, Lynda :-)

  64. Avery said: (May 26th, 2011 at 7:49 pm)

    You could also put poles in the bottom and they could be candy suckers

  65. Ayla said: (September 6th, 2011 at 3:13 pm)

    Do you think that you could use Mod Podge to coat it instead of poly?

  66. Chica said: (September 6th, 2011 at 6:02 pm)

    Hi Ayla! I would not use regular Mod Podge on the coasters, because it is not waterproof and the moisture from a wet glass would cause it to dissolve and get all gummy. You might be able to use outdoor Mod Podge, though, because the label says it’s water resistant.

  67. Taylor said: (November 14th, 2011 at 3:03 pm)

    I made a couple of coasters with a wider ribbon and after applying the polyureathane there were gaps in the roll. What would cause this?

  68. Chica said: (November 15th, 2011 at 7:18 am)

    Taylor, I would guess that one of the following things went wrong: 1) you didn’t wind the ribbon tight enough 2) you put the poly on too thick or 3) the ribbon was some material other than plastic and absorbed some of the poly.

  69. Tasha said: (November 24th, 2011 at 9:17 pm)

    Fantastic idea!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  70. Gretchen said: (January 28th, 2012 at 8:05 pm)

    really fun thing to do when I get board around the house and tryed it right after I found out about it!!! love it!!!♥♥♥♥♥♥

  71. Steven said: (January 31st, 2012 at 9:40 am)

    I am interested in making some of these, on average how long does it take to make one?

  72. Chica said: (January 31st, 2012 at 10:41 am)

    Steven, you’re probably looking at about an hour or so, depending on how big you make the coaster and how fast you work!

  73. Patti said: (February 14th, 2012 at 5:02 am)

    I love these. I am off to the dollar store tomorrow to pick up some ribbon. Thanks for sharing

  74. Tracy said: (February 16th, 2012 at 9:03 am)

    These coasters are really neat. I’m gonna try and make some this week. I love new craft ideas. Accidental craft ideas are the greatest. Look forward to seeing more of your ideas Chica and Jo!

  75. Chica said: (February 16th, 2012 at 7:00 pm)

    Tracy, you’re right — accidental craft ideas are the greatest. Our recycled phone book pen organizer was the same sort of thing. We hope you continue to enjoy watching our craft collection evolve!

  76. Januel said: (August 27th, 2012 at 1:22 pm)

    This is a great idea! I’m going to have to try this, I also love the suggestion to make them into Christmas ornaments! Do you know where I can get a big spool of ribbon cheapest? It always seems so expensive and short.
    I’ll be posting once I’ve made them!

  77. Chica said: (August 27th, 2012 at 2:42 pm)

    Januel, look at your local party store on online for 500-yard spools of curling ribbon, which are usually under $10 and are an affordable way to get a lot of ribbon at once.

  78. Anjie said: (October 5th, 2012 at 1:27 am)

    Great idea for football teams i.e. Red, White and Gold for the 49ers! :)

  79. Chica said: (October 5th, 2012 at 8:16 am)

    Anjie, I love that idea!

  80. Lisa said: (January 5th, 2013 at 7:12 pm)

    Very cute! I would have never thought of something like that!

  81. Caroline Fay said: (February 15th, 2013 at 10:24 am)

    How creative! A great idea. This is such a useful craft idea. It will be great as gifts. I can’t wait to try it out in my own living room. And, as one of your comments said it would be great to work up with some team colors. Thanks.

  82. Emily said: (April 9th, 2013 at 8:05 am)

    Ihave made heaps of these ad i tried doing a loveheart instead of circle and it looked great!

  83. Amanda said: (April 19th, 2013 at 3:25 am)

    I just started making some of these tonight (they’re so cute!). My boyfriend and I made 4, although as we’re polyurethane-ing, one was lost to battle! As a few other people have mentioned, my ribbon on one coaster sort of “bunched up” and created little gaps in the coaster. It would probably still be usable, but the others are so pretty I think I’ll toss that one. I have lots of ribbon, so I can make more! I used the correct kind of ribbon, so I think it bunched due to a combination of being too loose (it was the last one I made and my hands ached a little) and too much polyurethane. I was worried about that one, so I gooped it on a little.

    I’m sort of learning as I go, but I would love more specific directions on applying the polyurethane. For example, I’m applying a thin coat to my coasters every hour. Tonight I plan on doing 4 coats and seeing how they look… The original plan was to do 4 coats on the top tonight, 4 on the bottom tomorrow, then 4 on the edges the next day. I may adjust if need be, though! I don’t know if this is the correct way to go about this, so I would love some more specific directions.

  84. Chica said: (April 19th, 2013 at 6:52 pm)

    Amanda, lots of thin coats (rather than one thick one) is always the best approach with polyurethane, and this project is no exception. It takes patience, though! It’s hard to give specifics because every situation may vary, but it sounds like you’re on track with what you’re doing. I think you’re right that the bunched up ribbon was due to it being too loose and too thick of an application of poly, both of which will contribute to warped ribbon. Glad you’re enjoying this project, and we’d love to see photos of your creations if you want to share them in our Flickr group for reader photos.

  85. Betty said: (September 16th, 2013 at 10:05 am)

    I just came across these terrific curling ribbon coasters. LOVE THEM!!!

  86. yenta1957 said: (October 18th, 2013 at 2:38 pm)

    What a great site. I have to come back soon !!

  87. Jennifer said: (November 30th, 2013 at 12:23 pm)

    Hi, I I just love your ideas and these coasters are gorgeous. I am curious as to why they won’t last if you are putting polyurethane on them?

  88. Chica said: (December 1st, 2013 at 11:38 am)

    Jennifer, I think you misunderstood my comments. I said they won’t last long are they are (unfinished), so we put the poly on to protect them, so that they WILL last :)

  89. angela said: (June 13th, 2014 at 10:28 am)

    wow i have to try this at home they are so cute. and to think that i have the ribbons just lying around the house. thanks for the info

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