Project: Ribbons of Organization

Craft & Design

By Paula Biggs
Hi, my name is Paula and I have a ribbon problem. A BIG one. Like six-boxes-of-ribbon-up-on-my-shelf kind of big. Every time I do a project, I run to the store for the colors needed and always buy more than I need. After I’m done, I dump them in a box and they disappear into the ribbon vortex. Now, if all those spools of ribbon were visible, I know I would buy less and use what I already have.
I did make an effort to organize my spools of 50-yard ribbon at one point:
But this system has many drawbacks (especially if you are lazy as I am): the dowel isn’t strong enough to hold the kind of weight put on it; every time you use some ribbon, all the spools on the dowel unravel; and when one goes empty you have to unthread and rethread the entire dowel to take it off or replace it. Those are some pretty big issues that prove discouraging to keeping all those ribbons organized.
So I set to thinking how to solve these issues so that I might actually use the organizer, and came up with this ribbon organizer shelf. The spools can get dropped in and out at will, and the dowel is only there to keep the ribbon inside. I like to just pick up my ribbon and bring it with me, so this is a perfect solution for how I work. With the help of a can of spray paint, the organizer can even come in fashion colors!
This organizer is meant for standard 4″ rolls of ribbon; of course, you could add an inch or two to the dimensions to handle larger spools.


Materials and Tools

Drill and 3/8″ drill bit
Wood rosettes: 3 3/4″ x 3 3/4″
Wood glue
Wood back board: 2″ x 24″ x 1/2″
Wood bottom board: 4-1/4″ x 24″ x 1/2″
Wood dowel rod: 23-1/4″ x 3/8″
2 sets of picture hanger hardware
12 4D finishing nails, 1″ – 1 1/4″
Paint of your choice
Your friendly neighborhood home improvement store is usually more than happy to cut your boards for you if you can’t do it at home. You can also purchase the rosettes pre-made, as I did.
ribbon org sketch.jpg
Before getting started, the above diagram shows you how the organizer goes together, and offers a picture for placement of the dowel hole. We tried it with the hole 1/4″ from the top as well, and it worked, but the ribbon slid forward a bit too far in the shelf for my liking.


Step 1: Drill holes. Using a 3/8″ drill bit, drill the holes on the insides of the rosettes to hold the dowel rod. It should be 3/4″ down and 1/4″ in from the top outside corner of each rosette. Don’t drill the hole all the way through the rosette.
Step 2: Glue. Place a small amount of wood glue in each hole and insert each end of the dowel into a rosette.
Step 3: Nail in the backboard and add more glue. The dowel goes to the front of the organizer, the 2″ x 24″ strip of wood (back board) to the back. Place a thin layer of wood glue on the surfaces that will touch, then use three of the finishing nails to fasten the back board to a rosette on each side. The glue AND the nails will give it more stability.
Step 4: Glue the rosettes to the bottom board. Apply a thin line of glue on the bottom of the rosette and place the assembly on the bottom board.
Step 5: Nail the bottom board to the rosette. Line up your three finishing nails on the right and left and pound them in on each side.
Step 6: Paint! At this point, you can take some sandpaper to your shelf to smooth out any rough edges and properly prep the surfaces before you paint. Personally, I am rather impatient, so I used a spray primer/paint combo to coat the organizer. It took two coats.
Step 7: Hang it up. Properly position the picture hangers on the back board of the organizer, nail in, then hang on the wall. Place your ribbon inside. Make these in multiples for a really neat display on the wall.
Some other tips to organize your motley mess of ribbon:
Organize by color. Especially if you’re going to see the ribbon all the time; not only will it look pleasing to the eye, but you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for faster.
Double-sided Velcro (available in the electronics section of the hardware store) is great for keeping ribbon from unspooling when not in use. It is reusable and doesn’t leave sticky marks on the ribbon like tape will.
If you must use one of the string-everything-on-a-dowel organization systems, put a nylon washer between the spools to help them spin independently of their neighbors and not unravel everything at once!
About the Author:
Paula Biggs is a party-loving mom of two tiny tots living on the sunny beaches of Melbourne, Florida. She is the woman behind the frog at Frog Prince Paperie, a printable party design group and blog dedicated to making parties magical!

17 thoughts on “Project: Ribbons of Organization

  1. Carmen says:

    Just what I’m looking for!! Thanks so much.

  2. Vicki says:

    Fabulous idea! I do have a question though. If the holes are not drilled all the way and the dowel glued, how are the roles changed out? Did I miss something?? I re-read the directions. Unless one of the holes drilled into the rosette is drilled all the way through, then the dowel would just slide out to change the rolls. My apologies if I’m missing something. Awesome idea and quite inexpensive!

  3. Paula @ Frog Prince Paperie says:

    Vickie–these act like shelves vs. something you string the ribbon on, so the ribbon sits on them like they are in a basket. The dowel is stationary and just keeps the ribbon from rolling off the edge, and allows you to see the spools. Stringing them never worked for me, as I preferred to pick up the spool and bring it to my project…you just lift them out of the shelf and place them back in after use!

  4. Mindy says:

    YES – the take ALL spools down when you want one in the middle caveat is so annoying! Love this idea, thanks!

  5. Mary says:

    I love this idea and can’t wait to try it. One question…I noticed in the pictures that the rosettes on the ends have a notch cut out for the back piece to sit on but I didn’t notice any mention as to how to do this in the directions. Did I miss something?

  6. Mary Beth says:

    I too have a ribbon problem and I love this idea.
    I use large rubber bands on the spools of ribbon to keep them from unrolling. Works great and does not leave a sticky spot like tape, or holes like pins.

  7. Tammie Renz says:

    Home Depot – here I come! I see a DIY project this weekend. My local Home Depot will cut everything to THE exact size. I do have a question: I have a LOT of big rolls, so should I make adjustments to the sizes?
    I’m sure I could take a roll of ribbon to HD with me and they could help me figure it out – and the hubs can as well. I too, am impatient, so I’ll also buy the primer/paint combo. Thanks for that pointer.
    Now I need an idea for pre-cut ribbon. I made security blankets with ribbons on all four sides and have drawers and drawers of them, but I would like for them to be easily accessible and easy to find.
    Hmmmmm, maybe I could use a cork board and clip the cut ribbons on it. What do you guys think?

  8. Lynn Wilson says:

    Just got through making three of these babies. It took me about 2 hours and they look great for a novice. My sewing room transformation is almost finished. Thanks for the idea and the tutorial.

  9. Judy says:

    I’m so excited to see this project! I’m thinking adding bandsaw blade on the bottom front would make a great way to store/dispense wrapping paper as well!

  10. Karen says:

    Thank you God for making this wonderfut woman! i have fought with my ribbon so often, that now it is all in a basket and I hate searcing. So you know that I will use this idea. You are so clever. Thank you

  11. Cardmaker says:

    A wonderful solution to a nagging problem! Thanks for the solution.

  12. Robin says:

    Absolutely love this idea with a little touch of vintage detail! I have many creative passions so I use many types of ribbon. This is the best hanging designs I’ve seen, so many thanks for sharing! Think I’ll place on a wall by color with the visually heavier and larger/wider rolls at the bottom.

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