Sunday, July 7, 2013

DIY Dyed Crepe Paper Ribbon Tutorial

We recently got a call from a great friend to help out with their wedding decor. A small wedding for a few close relatives and friends on the beach calls for going-all-out on handmade decor! We'll be sharing with you over the next couple of weeks what we're cooking up for the wedding and the how-tos, in case you've got an occasion for crafting, too! First up, we dyed crepe paper ribbon we made ourselves using a secret ingredient. Find out how after the jump!

Mint, blush, and cream are hot colors right now, and we can't deny that they're our favorites, too. We were super excited to make crepe paper ribbon to wrap around the invitation bundles, in our favorite color mint. We love the hand-dyed look because it adds to the dimension of the crepe paper, and gives it an overall much more romantic feel. The theme of this wedding is romance, so when in Rome, right?

Our heavy crepe paper is perfect for this project, as its thickness makes it easy to submerge in water without any ripping or curling. It can withstand quite a bit of moisture and absorbs color really well. We looked up some recipes online for home dyes, and decided that the easiest and most effective would be Kool-Aid! Sound crazy? Kind of, but it worked and we can't help but love that it left a nice scent on the ribbon, too :)

1. Prep your ribbon.

For the belly band of an invitation, the ribbon needed to be 1.5 inches in width. We cut strips from our white crepe paper measuring 1.5 inches in width. Once we had enough length for all of our invitations (for 30 5" wide invitations, we cut 10 yards of ribbon to make sure we had plenty).  Make sure you're cutting so the stripe-like grain of the crepe goes across the 1.5" side horizontally.

2. Stitch your ribbon.

We set the machine to the longest straight stitch possible (used for gathering), and stitched our strips together to make a long chain, keeping the stitch down the middle and overlapping 1/2" at each meeting point of the strips. Keep long tails of thread at each end so you can pull later for gathering. Remember to use a 100% cotton ribbon, otherwise it will not dye with your ribbon -- only natural fibers will accept a dye.

3. Gather as necessary.

Our ribbon actually gathered all we needed when we put it through the machine, as the long stitches tug the crepe paper close together as you go. Knot at both ends close to the crepe paper to keep it from straightening out at the ends.

4. Prep your dye.

We used unsweetened Kool-Aid drink packets. The colors we used for the mint were 1 pack of Lemon and 2 packs of Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade. Each were diluted in 8oz of water, mixed, and poured into a large bowl. We submerged our ribbon (half at a time, sewn together later so we could fit it all in the bowl) for about 5 minutes each half. The 3 cups of total liquid were enough for the 10 yards but close -- if you're doing more, certainly get more pack of Kool-Aid! Make sure you do a test strip first to determine how long to submerge and that your color is what you want. We found all of this information with this wonderful guide for using Kool-Aid to dye-- it is using it to dye yarn but works perfectly with our crepe paper.

5. Dry your ribbon.

The ribbon, because it is so absorbent and sturdy, also takes a long time to dry! Avoid pressing it to squeeze out the liquid, as this will cause the ribbon to dry crinkly which will make it hard to flatten later for using as ribbon. We set it up in a bucket in front of a heavy fan to dry for an hour or two, rotating to expose the wet parts every 15-30 minutes.

6. Lightly press your ribbon.

We set our iron to about half heat, and went down the ribbon, coming down flat from above onto each section of the ribbon to flatten. Avoid beginning at one end and sliding down the ribbon, as this can cause it to flatten more -- we wanted some nice crinkle to our ribbon so we came down from above piece-by-piece.

7. Final stitch.

Once it is all pressed, run all of your ribbon back through your machine, this time using a tighter stitch so the crinkling will stay in place. This is where we connected our two halves that we split when dyeing.

Wrap neatly, and use somewhere beautiful!

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