Types of Ribbons


The "grain" (a tight weave of horizontal ribs) provides elasticity making it perfect for trimming and edging. Traditionally used by milliners to to decorate and finish hats. Still used extensively in fashion for hatbands, skirt waistbands, sweater button bands, and in home decor accessories and furniture embellishment. Authentic French grosgrain woven on a shuttle loom of rayon and cotton is often called Petersham has a flexible picot edge allowing it to be shaped with an iron, whereas machine-made grosgrain cannot be shaped this way.


A treatment applied to grosgrain ribbon to give it a “watermarked” look. It is a heat and pressure process where the ribbon is passed between two cylinders so part of the ribs in the weave are flattened while others remain unflattened. Vintage moire grosgrain can even have picot edges. Moiré is derived from the French moirer, “to water.”


Satin is a special weave giving the ribbon a glossy surface. One of the most widely used ribbons for clothing, accessories, decoration, bridal and floral, most "satin" ribbon is actually polyester. Available in single- faced or double-faced. Single-face, which is relatively inexpensive, is great for gift-wrapping. Pricier double-faced satin is ideal for decor.


A flat weave with a matte finish. It can be made of various fibers such as silk, rayon, acetate or polyester. Taffeta comes in checks, plaids, solids, iridescents, stamped, variegated and ombres. It often has wired edge which can be removed.

Wire-edge Ribbons:

Often taffeta or polyester ribbon woven with a fine wire (usually copper) inside of each selvedge. This allows the ribbon to hold its shape when fashioned into bows, ribbon flowers, swags and so on. The wire can be removed if desired.  Wired-edge taffeta ribbons were first popularized in France and traditionally made of taffeta but they can be found in satin, polyester, metallics and with many patterns.

Picot Edge:

Continuous small decorative loops form an ornamental edging. Found mostly on vintage ribbons as it is not often made often made now due to the  necessity of using a shuttle loom to create the edge (as in Petersham grosgrain.)

Printed Ribbon:

Ribbon printed on by stamping or inking to apply a painted or foil design, or screen printing for an overall design. Often used on wired ribbon it is also very popular to print words and names for advertising, branding and special events such as weddings. In the modern world, technology has made it possible to print any word, pattern, or image imaginable on the surface of a ribbon. Printed ribbons can appear similar to jacquard, but typically only have one patterned side. This is a less expensive alternatively to luxe jacquard.

Twill Tape:

Twill tape features a diagonal or zigzag weave that provides great strength and support. It can be made from any variety of cotton or synthetic fibers and is usually found in white or other neutral tones. We love using twill tape as a basic solution for projects such as binding the edges of garments (i.e. in place of bias tape), encasing drawstrings, etc.

Seam Binding:

Typically used for hemming garments, seam binding ribbon has become popular as a present-trimming material to obtain a natural, rustic look.  Spools often come in affordable 100-yard supplies and are widely available.


Woven with a thick, plush pile or napped face. Available in single- faced or double-faced. With its plush texture and rich hues, velvet exudes luxury. Velvet is traditionally associated with the colder months of the year, but it’s easy to press, store, and reuse for winters to come.


Constructed of silk, cotton, or rayon, organdy is unique in its thin and transparent composition. It is both lightweight and easy to work with, and its iridescent finish makes an elegant statement. Widely used for bridal, lingerie and floral decoration. Also called Chiffon or Sheer ribbon.


A ribbon composed of narrow ribbons woven together on a shuttle loom to create an intricate floral-like effect. A delicate trim it is often used to embellish baby and children’s garments as well as a decorative trim on soft goods for the home.


A narrow, flat braid used for ornamental work usually seen on antique furniture and soft goods such as pillows and draperies. Most often used to conceal a seam. Beautiful metallic soutache was produced in France for many years and can be seen in many museum pieces of French, Russian and European royalty from the 1600’s 1900’s. Ornate soutache is still created from satin threads.


Classic Scottish pattern of woven colors in warp and weft. Plaids must be woven on a special plaid loom, which can insert multiple filling colors.

Stretch Ribbons:

Elastic threads can be woven into many weaves, most usually satin, organdy and velvet.


Narrow woven ribbons used for tying, packaging, apparel decoration, stationery.

Crushed Ribbon:

Ribbon is  water-treated and crushed while wet giving it a crinkled, distressed look. Often done with velvet.

Sources: Ribbon Glossary of page 202 Nicholas Kniel Ribbon;



And original content!

Grosgrain Ribbon: Tight weave of horizontal ribs traditionally used by milliners for hatbands
Jacquard Ribbon: Woven on a Jacquard (shuttle loom). Includes Brocade & Damask
Brocade Ribbon: Jacquard with raised pattern often including metallic threads.
Damask Ribbon: Patterned reversible weave done on a Jacquard loom.
Satin Ribbon: Satin is a special weave giving the ribbon a glossy surface
Taffeta Ribbon: A flat weave with a matte finish. Often has wired edge.
Picot Edge Ribbon: Continuous small decorative loops form an ornamental edging.
Ombre Ribbon: A weave starting with one color and usually blending from light to dark but can be many colors.
Variegated Ribbon: Woven with different colors blending together across the width.
Printed Ribbon: Ribbon printed on by stamping or inking (foil may be applied), or screen printing.
Twill Tap Ribbon: Diagonal or zig-zag weave.
Seam Binding Ribbon: Binding for garments often used in packaging.
Velvet Ribbon: Woven with a thick, plush pile or napped face.
Chenille Ribbon: Ribbon with velvety, tufted appearance. Looser weave than velvet.
Organdy Ribbon: Transparent often with iridescent finish. Can be wired
Iridescent Ribbon: Woven with two different colored threads in the warp and the weft to creating the iridescence.
Metallic Ribbon: Woven with lurex yarn or metallic threads now often of plastic not metal.
Moire Ribbon: "Water-marked" pattern
Soutache Ribbon: Narrow flat braid often used in upholstery. Ornamental and to conceal seams.
Plaid Ribbon: Classic Scottish pattern of woven colors in warp and weft.
Striped Ribbon: Stripes can be woven in or printed on the ribbon. Very popular for grosgrain and taffeta.
Gingham Ribbon: Woven of dyed yarns that create a block or check effect.
Rococo Ribbon: Trim made of narrow ribbons woven together to create small "flowers."
Ric Rac Ribbon: Trim woven in a zig-zag design
Wire-edge Ribbon: Woven with a fine wire inside of each selvedge, allowing the shape to be held.
Embroidered Ribbon: Hand or machine stitching is applied over the surface. Threads show on the reserve side.
Ruched Ribbon: Plain ribbon gathered in the center or an either side to create a puckered or pleated effect.