I keep a box loosely-closed in a closet so I can easily add ribbon salvaged from gifts I’ve been given, and random ties and string that have come my way. I’m not just recycling them to use on other gifts; I’m collecting a material to use for all sorts of applications and fixes…

It is messy and inspiring.

Ribbons make…

…a lovely bookmark, either shorter scrap pieces (fraying only adds to the beauty)…

…or long, windy lengths that you can lace through to mark your favorite spots, especially good with poetry books…

Sally Schneider

I used a scrap of velvet ribbon to repair a mid-century chair whose screw hole got stripped and wouldn’t hold

Sally Schneider

In the early days of Improvised Life, my business card was a frayed length of ribbon with a sticker on it…

Tara Mann

And I used I used ribbon to wrap a very tiny gift

I’ve kept my eye out for the way other people have used ribbon and string, like…

hanging books on the wall for quick access, by the bed or in the bathroom


a watch band (an idea from the late, great Platform 21)


stylish laces for combat boots

a curtain tie back

Mimi Giboin for Remodelista

a way to bundle cookies as the great Brooklyn baker Burrow does


The carcasses of chairs, stripped of covering, often make great looms for ribbon and everything else in my wild box.  Pascal Anson made a beauty tying and pulling scraps onto a chair frame…

Pascal Anson

These just scratch the surface but you get the idea.

And the box of scrap ribbon is beautiful unto itself: wild colors, always in a different array, all possibility…

Sally Schneider

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3 replies on “A Messy Scrap Ribbon Collection Inspires Delights and Inventions

  1. I have a messy box of ribbon also. I love looking at it, into it, and am now further inspired to look for new ways for my ribbons!

  2. I’d suggest hanging your ribbon box on the wall as an artwork; it’s so beautiful.
    I have got two wonderful artworks hanging on my wall made from remnants of coloured fishing nets (known as ‘ghost nets’)and ropes found washed up on beaches in the Torres Strait. The local people have repurposed this flotsam and jetsam from pollution into art.

    [Sally, I’ll happily send you photos but I’d have to check about the copyright of publishing the images online if you’d want to do that].

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