Why Do Scissors Curl Ribbon When Scraped? (Explained)

Crafting is one of the best ways to stretch your creativity while finding new uses for traditional tools. One of the best examples of repurposing a tool is using a pair of scissors to curl a ribbon.

Most of us have that nostalgic feeling of running a thin piece of ribbon through a cold pair of scissors and having them appear the perfect curl.

But how does curling a ribbon with scissors work?

How Do Scissors Curl Ribbon When Scraped?

The reason why a pair of scissors is the perfect tool to curl a ribbon is because of the tension and the friction that happens when the ribbon runs through the flat metal scissors. This tension allows the ribbon to expand, producing a perfectly beautiful curl when it is released.

Does Every Ribbon Curl When Scraped By a Scissor?

The most common type of ribbon that you can easily curl by scraping it with scissors is the plastic one.

These are the ribbons that are often used to adorn gift wrapping as well as used as decoration for a party. It doesn’t have to be full plastic that will curl, either.

Any plastic-blend ribbon should curl when scraped with scissors; however, there is one thing to keep in mind.

For the ribbon to have the right amount of tension on the surface of the ribbon, it has to be able to hold shape. For example, if you bend a piece of ribbon in half and see a very defined crease, chances are that that specific ribbon will curl.

But, not all types of ribbons will curl when scraped with a pair of scissors. More specifically, fabric-based ribbons will not bend and curl the same way. This is because these ribbons are much more delicate and do not hold any shape.

To curl a ribbon that is made from fabric, you will have to apply some heat. This will help to melt the fibers in the ribbon, which will give it structure and shape.

Unfortunately, this can not be some by simply scrapping the inner layer with scissors.

Which Side of the Ribbon Should You Scrape?

When learning how to curl a ribbon with a pair of scissors, you have to make sure that you are scraping the right. Scraping the wrong side of a ribbon with scissors will not have the same smooth effect you want.

The first thing you want to do is look for the natural curl of the ribbon. You can cut a ribbon and hold it up to let it dangle. You should see a natural curl start to form; that’s how you know that this specific ribbon will curl perfectly.

You want to always make sure that the dull side is facing down. This is because the dull side of the ribbon is that side that will actually get scraped.

You don’t want to scrape the shiny side because this is the side that you face out once you place it.

Once the dull side is facing down, wrap the ribbon around the sheers and pull through, ensuring it is the dull side that is being scraped. If you are having a hard time figuring out which side is the dull side, check for ridges.

The dull side of the ribbon will sometimes feature little ridges giving it some texture. This textured side is the side that you want to scrape to have a perfect curl.

Do You Have to Scrape Fast to Curl Ribbon?

The secret to a perfectly curled ribbon has everything to do with the amount of pressure and tension and not much speed.

However, pulling the ribbon through quickly can produce a tighter curl. This is because when you pull the ribbon quickly, you are naturally creating more tension.

It would be best if you found the perfect balance between speed and grip to curl the ribbon successfully. This may take a few tries to get it right, but the good news is you can re-curl a piece of ribbon several times to become a professional.

Start slow and focus on your grip and how you hold the ribbon while ensuring you are giving enough pull and tension. This will expose the layers of the ribbon to the blade so that the ribbon can expand and take shape.

Another thing to note is how thick the ribbon is. A thicker ribbon will need more tension to curl and curl better when you scrape the scissors slower, while thinner ribbons curl better with a little more speed.

How Hard Do You Press to Curl Ribbon?

We’ve talked about tension and speed, but how does that affect your grip when curling some ribbon with scissors?

To curl a ribbon, you must press your thumb against the dull side of a scissor blade. While you press down, you use the sharp end to scrap the dull inner side of the ribbon, which creates a curl.

While creating great friction and tension, you don’t want to press down too hard. This is because you are trying to scrape the ribbon and not cut it. If you press too hard, you run the risk of slicing through the ribbon.

Also, you want to make sure you are not hurting yourself. While you are pressing down on the dull side of the scissor blade, you can still cause a little bit of a dig into your thumb.

If you press too hard, each time you scrape the ribbon, you will press more and more into your thumb, which can be painful.

The best way to find the right amount of pressure is to play around with how you curl the ribbon. Grab some ribbon that you won’t be too upset about ruining, and do a little trial and error. Make sure to focus on your grip to find the right hold that feels good to you.

Try to play around with different grips and speeds and track your results. After a handful of tries, you should nail down not only speed but the perfect amount of pressure that is needed to give you the desired curl you are looking for.

Can You Curl Ribbons WITHOUT Scissors?

You can curl a piece of ribbon without scissors; however, I find that using a pair of scissors creates the perfect grip and tension that you need to make a perfect spiral.

So, what else can you use to curl a piece of ribbon?

A thin knife is another option for curling a ribbon, but there are a few things to note. You want to ensure that you are using a knife with a flat blade that doesn’t have thick grooves.

Next, you want to keep your safety in mind. So don’t use a super big or sharp knife because you don’t want to cut into your thumb. Lastly, you will have to play a little with your grip. This is because you won’t have the same stability that you would have by using a pair of scissors.

Another way to curl ribbon without scissors is to use a ribbon curler. These can be found at any craft store and do more than curl a ribbon.

Ribbon curlers look like mini-staplers, and you pull the ribbon between the teeth of the curler.

While a ribbon curler will curl the ribbon, it will cut them into smaller pieces. This gives an almost “doll hair” effect where there is a bundle of curly ribbon strands.

However, not everyone wants small strands of ribbons. So, if you want to curl the ribbon without shredding it, stick with the scissors.

Wrapping It Up!

Curling a ribbon with a pair of scissors is one of the most genius ways to repurpose crafting supplies.

There is something so therapeutic about scraping a ribbon through a pair of scissors. Maybe it is the sound or the feeling of creating something cool.

However, the fascinating part is the science behind why a piece of ribbon will curl under this type of tension. So, nothing beats the classic combo of ribbon and scissors, whether you are wrapping a gift or want to add a little flair to your party decorations.

Reference Links:

3 Ways To Curl a Ribbon

Secret Of Ribbon Curling Revealed