Published on January 27th, 2014 | by Julie Finn1
Tutorial + How-to: DIY Award Ribbons
Winning is fun.
And it’s even more fun when it comes with swag!
Whether you want to celebrate the winner of your annual family Olympics or the champion of your school-level spelling bee (that’s what these ribbons are for, in case you were wondering), a handmade, extra-elaborate, bigger-than-big award ribbon is going to make that victor feel even more special.
And the best part–these ribbons are made with nothing but scraps and stash. All the fanciness and specialness and happy, proud feelings? That’s all free!
1. Color coordinate your scraps. Raid your scraps bin to find just the right fabrics in just the right colors: blue is for first place, and red is for second place. I’m going to go ahead and say that white is for third place and yellow is for fourth place, but do be aware that those colors vary, depending on where you live and what you’re competing in.
For the two ribbons that I wanted to make here, I happened to have the right colors in special occasion fabric scraps–red velvet leftover from curtain making, and blue satin cut from an old formal dress. Satin is definitely what you’ll see store-bought award ribbons made from, but there is nothing to say that YOUR award ribbons can’t be made from quilter’s cotton, or that every piece of fabric that goes into them can’t be different. The only fabric that I’d stay away from, personally, is felt–wasn’t the ribbon that you won in preschool for “First Place, Quiet Game” made from felt and puff paint?
2. Cut some circles. Trace out a circle onto recycled cardboard that’s about four inches in diameter–about the diameter of an Instant Ramen cup (not that I’m eating Instant Ramen over my keyboard for lunch or anything…)–and cut it out. Lay it over your fabric, and trace another circle onto the fabric that’s about an inch wider in diameter. Cut that fabric circle out, too, and go heat up your hot glue gun.
3. Make the badge front. Place the fabric circle face down onto a heat-proof surface, and center the cardboard circle on top of it. Dispense a circle of hot glue around the perimeter of the cardboard circle, then quickly wrap the edges of the fabric up and around the cardboard circle and into the hot glue. You should now have a nice, fabric-covered badge front.
For the place number, you can go a few directions. You could stencil the number onto the badge front using either fabric paint or acrylic paint (after all, you won’t be washing this!). You could cut the number out of a different piece of fabric, or even paper or other media, and glue it to the badge face, or you can do what I did, which is cheat.
For these particular badges, I used number stickers from my stash. I added a small line of hot glue to the back of each number, then pressed it onto the center of the badge. Done and done!
4. Make the ruffles around the badge. Cut a piece of fabric about a yard long and four inches wide. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, right sides together, and sew down the long seam. Turn the long tube of fabric right side out, press, and you’ve got yourself a nice, long piece of double-sided ribbon.
Set the badge face side down on a clean surface, then use a dot of hot glue to press the end of the ribbon to the back of the badge, near the edge. Press another dot of hot glue a few centimeters from the edge of the ribbon, and fold it onto itself. Repeat to keep pleating the ribbon, periodically stopping to glue the pleated ribbon around the back edge of the badge. When the ribbon just overlaps, cut it off.
5. Make the hanging ribbons. The award ribbon also needs a couple of dangling ribbons at the bottom. Each ribbon should be about eight to ten inches long–use the rest of the double-sided ribbon that you made, if you have enough.
Cut a triangle from one end of each ribbon, then figure out the ideal placement of the two ribbons behind the badge, overlapping and centered and visually appealing. Once you’ve got a pleasing arrangement, hot glue everything together.
If the messy backside that no one will ever see or care about bothers you, glue a surplus piece of fabric over it to cover it.
6. Add a pinback. If you don’t have a pinback finding, a safety pin will do. I do NOT recommend using hot glue for this part, actually, which might surprise you considering how obsessed with it I’ve been in the rest of the tutorial. Hot glue can be brittle after it dries, and it’s not always as strong as you want it to be. If you have long enough to allow it to cure completely, I suggest using a super-strong glue such as E6000.
For small-scale kid parties and events, I can generally devote a morning to making all the award ribbons that I’ll need all by myself. For school field days or clubs, however, it would be pretty awesome to assign the chore to groups of parent volunteers. You could make ribbons for first place and second place, sure, but also for way better stuff:
Biggest smile. Fastest reader. Loudest singer.
And yes, fine: Quiet Game, First Place.