Tutorial: Gift card ribbon & lace storage

I haven’t photographed the big sewing project I’m working on, so instead of blogging about it, here is a cute simple tutorial to make your Thursday fun.

As a historical seamstress, I have a massive stash of ribbons and lace.  When I buy ribbons and lace I buy them in at least 6 metre lengths – it takes a lot of ribbon or lace to trim an 18th or 19th century dress!

Because I’m a historian, I’m also hopelessly sentimental: I hate throwing away all the bits of ephemera that come into my life, because I imagine how interesting they will be to someone in the future.

My stash of ribbons and lace and fly fringe and trim and passimentaries, and my inability to toss things like birthday cards and thank you cards and invitations, could easily result in a big mess, but I have a clever way of using the latter to create beautiful storage for the former.

I stack the cards, and then wind my ribbons and bits around them.  It’s much prettier and more fun than winding my ribbons around plain card, my ribbons are neat and tidy, and when I finally use the ribbons and lace up, I get to rediscover the card and all the messages inside them.

Birthday cards and invitations for ribbon storage

I keep every invitation and birthday card and thank you card that I get, so that I have a stash ready when I buy another piece of ribbon.

Here I have (from top left), a thank you card, a birthday card, a wedding card (D’awww, over 7 years later!), a random greeting card, another birthday card, a postcard, an invitation to Gran & Grandbob’s 60th wedding celebration, the thank you card from them for attending, and another thank you card.

Birthday cards and invitations for ribbon storage

You need three or four cards slipped together to be stiff enough to wind your ribbons around.  I sort my cards by size and shape: big, little, square, rectangle etc, and slip the like ones together to form a nice stiff stack of cards:

Cards slipped one inside the other

Then you can measure your lengths of ribbon, and wrap it around the card:

Wrapping the ribbon around the card

Why do you measure it?  So that you can write the length on the back of the card, and know how much you have.  I find this particularly important as a lot of my longer lengths of ribbon have joins in them.

Notes on the length of the ribbon on the back of the card

When my ribbon is wrapped, I tie it off with a short length of ribbon:

Ribbon gift card storage

I wrap multiple lengths of not-quite-as-long ribbon on the same card, all with their own length notation:

Ribbon gift card storage

And that’s it!

Birthday cards and invitations for ribbon storage

All neat and tidy, easy to find, I’ll know if I have enough for my project, and I someday in the future I’ll use up all the ribbon, and get to rediscover the cards, and the beautiful sentiments in them, and can have a lovely little memory-fest.


  1. Lynne says

    Very good idea. I’ve just learnt about it a bit too late, unfortunately. My sentimental tendency to keep cards etc means I have boxes of the things! Note to self: no, this is not a good reason to go looking for more ribbons!

    I do like the way you have written the lengths of the ribbons on the back of the card.

  2. Will you come to my house and organize my ribbons, please!? That’s a great idea.

  3. How smart! This is just the sort of cool thing I’d find at a thrift store or estate sale that would make me wonder about the darling seamstress who owned it before me. 🙂

  4. Zach says

    That’s pretty neat! I keep all of my cards, too. It kills me every time I see my brother throw away his cards. I just think, “how can you throw away all of those memories?!?” Not all of us are sentimental packrats, I guess.

  5. This reminds me of a piece of lace I found in my grandparent’s attic. It was(and still is) wrapped around a folded up envelope dated 1908, so I think you’re right about those cards being interesting to someone in the future.

    This is a great idea and I’m going to do it. I have several shoe boxes full of tangled trim and seam binding and I never get rid of cards either.

    • Elise says

      Exactly! While not a seamstress, I can think of a new storage idea for rubber bands (elastics), or even bobby pins!

  6. Belinda says

    Arg! I just chucked out a heap of cards! No! My bag of ribbons shall remain tangled. 🙁

  7. […] sorted in some fashion.  Length and color seem to be the logical system to me.  Dreamstress had a post where she used old greeting cards to wrap the ribbons and laces and she wrote the lengths on them […]

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