How to Make Ribbon Stiff

Updated April 17, 2017

Don't get caught with a droopy bow. It's easy to stiffen a ribbon for decoration, wearing in ones hair, or wrapping a present. There are a number of ways, and it's fun to experiment on different types of ribbons with different stiffening techniques. Traditionally, fabric and ribbons were made stiff by dipping in liquid starch, but this process can be messy. Spray starch is easy and dries more quickly.

Iron or lightly steam your ribbon on a low setting, to remove any wrinkles.

Lay the ribbon on a flat, easy-to-clean surface. The bathtub or kitchen counter works well for this.

Spray the starch all over the ribbon. Let it dry for 15 minutes.

Turn the ribbon over and spray the other side.

Allow the ribbon to dry completely, before shaping it. To speed the drying process, zap the ribbon in the microwave (but be sure your ribbon is microwave safe with no metallic threads). You also can speed the process with a hairdryer, but a microwave creates the stiffest results.

Bend the ribbon into whatever shape you like. If you'd like, you can apply a light finishing touch with heavy-hold, aerosol hairspray.


Stiffening spray and starch is water soluble, so if you're unhappy with your ribbon's shape, soak it in water for a bit, let it dry and reapply the starch. Clean up your bathtub or work area with soap and water.

Things You'll Need

  • Ribbon
  • Spray starch
  • Hairspray (optional)
  • "Stiffen Stuff" (optional)
  • Microwave (optional)
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About the Author

Erin Griffith has covered finance, private equity and mergers and acquisitions since 2005. She has served as a senior reporter for peHUB, a Reuters subsidiary, associate editor for "Buyouts" magazine and reporter for Mergermarket, dealReporter and, a Financial Times Group subsidiary. Griffith has a Bachelor of Science in journalism and a certificate in women's studies from Ohio University.