Monday, January 04, 2010

Paperclips be gone: Make your own ribbons!

No more paper clips!

All too often a book that needs ribbons will come without. This effects Bibles, prayer books, and many nice hardcovers. The first set of ribbons I created were for my Monastic Matins (Lancelot Andrewes Press). However this set will be for the Parish Book of Chant, published by the Church Music Association of America.

I'll say up front that the PBC is very slender so we can only squeeze two ribbons into it. Actually we are only using one ribbon as you will see momentarily. Let's get started.

First, select your ribbon. Size your ribbon according to your book. For a Liber Usualis you can use thicker ribbons perhaps. But this one requires slender. I chose a standard blue ribbon from Wal*Mart.

Measure out a piece twice as long as as the book is tall plus six inches. You can see the example in the photo above. This will give us two ribbons plus some extra to hang out the bottom.

Next, find yourself a card of some sort. This can be an old business card or a tag from a store. The price tag works best for this book because it already comes with a hole. If your card doesn't have a hole in it, you can use a hole-punch to do the trick. The price tag requires a little widening with a pen.

Now fold the ribbon in the middle so it makes a loop. Push it through the hole you just widened or created like this:

Take the loose ends of the ribbon and put them through the loop. You are essentially tying a knot here. Tighten them up but don't pull too hard or you will break the hole. Then you have to punch another one and repeat the process.

It looks like this when you are complete:

Now comes a tough part. You are going to want to size up the spine of the book and cut your card just slightly thinner. The PBC is very slender so this one is pretty tough to do. I did it by eyesight but you may want to measure. If your card is too fat it won't fit but if it is too slender it will constantly fall out. So get it right!

You could probably already tell where I'm going with this, but here it is anyway. Slide the card down the spine. See the "V" the ribbon makes? Put that toward you so the ribbons will fold over towards the pages. It is much nicer that way.

Now clip the excess off the ends and voila! You've got ribbons in your book!

One more thing. If you have a wider book and you'd like to add four or six ribbons to it just add more holes and space them out appropriately.

My apologies for the iPhone photos. Would you believe I still haven't put new batteries in the camera? (believe it.)


Rich said...

Nice trick.

I usually tie up the ends of the ribbon so they don't fray from use.

Marquis said...

That is an excellent idea. Thanks for sharing.

becket said...

A hole puncher may be better then using a pen.

becket said...

Matt what parish do you attend in the Philly area?.

Matt said...

Hi becket- thanks for the comment!

For my Matins book, I did use a hole puncher and it indeed makes cleaner holes. Nevertheless you will never see them again unless you remove the ribbons.

So my advice is to use what is handy!

Matt said...


sorry missed your first question. When I'm in the Philly area I attend at St. Agnes in West Chester, which is a Novus Ordo parish, but next time I visit I plan on attending one of the new TLM parishes around, and I've always wanted to attend the Ukrainian Cathedral as well.

I live in the Scranton Area and attend the local FSSP parish.

becket said...

I take it. You should have them put some better pictures of the church on their website. A nice photo gallery.

bensbroussard said...


Thanks so very much for this post. At the Chant Intensive this past week, I mentioned your (what I still assumed was forthcoming) post to Arlene. She immediately posted on NLM about it, which I really did not know she would do. I hope this sudden publicity was not unwanted. I also shared this post with my fellow chanters at the Intensive, no doubt they'll be looking into it in the next few days.

Thank you again. Your fellow chanters salute you for such helpful information. Complete with step-by-step as well, brilliant!

All the best,

Matt said...

Hi Ben- I wish I could have been to the intensive, but the distance from NEPA was prohibitive for me. I did make it to DC in September though. I plan on trying to get to Colloqium in June too.

I don't mind the stat spike, whatever I can do to helpy fellow musicians is fine by me. At first I was wondering what the heck was going on, until I followed the link back!

Thanks for the post suggestion too!

wnpaul said...

I have been making ribbons for Bibles and prayer/hymnbooks for a number of years in a similar fashion, because I frequently use LOTS of ribbons, and most of these come with one at best.

What I do is I cut the card to twice the width of the spine, fold it in half lengthwise, and spread glue on both sides of the inside fold. Then I lay the ribbons on one side, about 3/4 to 1 inch deep, and fold the card closed on top of them.

The glue not only holds the ribbons with less chance of ripping than a hole would, it also stiffens the card so it stays in the spine fairly well.

Hope someone finds this useful.

Wolf Paul
Vienna, Austria

Victoria said...

Thank you for the tutorial. I have been bemoaning a lack of ribbons but never thought to make my own.

Re the ends of the ribbons fraying - cutting the ribbon on the diagonal and dabbing the ends with colourless nail polish should help.

"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton