How to Sew A Ribbon Edge Hem (and my cute little mug rug too)

Surprise! It’s Ribbon Week II! We are so inspired by ribbon that 5 days wasn’t enough. Get ready for another fun week of ribbon-related projects. First up, How to Sew a Ribbon Edge Hem sponsored by our friends at fabricworm.

Hemming is boring, in my humble opinion. Boring, yet required in most instances. One way to spice it up is to use a ribbon to create a beautiful, finished edge. It’s pretty and it’s even easier than sewing an actual hem.

If you hem a skirt or other apparel item with ribbon, the stiffness of the ribbon will give a bit of a flounce to the edge of the garment, while using a ribbon to hem placemats, napkins, or a mug rug leaves you with a nice firm shape.

Let me show you how to make a ribbon edge hem and also how I appliqued this little mug rug…

How to Sew A Ribbon Hem

I’ll just begin at the beginning of the mug rug, and you’ll see how the ribbon hem works a few steps in. To make this mug rug I used Robert Kaufman Essex Linen in yellow from Fabricworm, and appliqued a typewriter cut from Melody Miller’s fabric for Kokka Japan. I started by cutting two 16″ square pieces of yellow fabric for the mug rug and setting them aside. Then I ironed some double sided interfacing to the wrong side of the appliqué fabric before cutting out a typewriter:

Then I removed the backing from the interfacing, affixed it to the center of the right side of the top piece of my mug rug, then ironed it in place:

Then I used my sewing machine to sew around the edges. I set the machine to a tight, narrow zig zag stitch and carefully sewed around the edges with a bright pink thread.

Then I cut a piece of batting the same size as my mug rug, sandwiched it in between the two pieces of fabric (right sides to the outside, wrong sides touching the batting) and pinned all the way around:

Next up, I put my walking foot on my machine and quilted the three pieces together. I sewed straight lines from the applique to the edge in a starburst pattern.

Now the ribbon edge hem. I decided to do a different ribbon on each edge (good way to use up scraps). So you want to lay your item with the wrong side up (facing you). You want to lay your ribbon with the wrong side down, so wrong side of ribbon and item are facing.

Line the ribbon up so the edge is just overlapping the edge of your item, like so.

Now sew the ribbon down with coordinating thread, just at the very very edge. This will attach the ribbon to the fabric. You want it to look neat as this line of stitching will show on the front of your item.

Now turn your item over. From the front it will look like this:

Now you want to fold the ribbon up to the front of your item. Give it a nice iron to hold it in place. I even like to iron some steam-a-seam tape to hold it nicely in place.

Now sew along the top edge of the ribbon.

You have sewn a ribbon edge!

For the remaining edges, I cut each piece of ribbon longer than the edge. Repeat the above process.

Then when you flip it over, you’ll have some extra ribbon at the edge.

I fold this around to the back and top stitch along the previous stitch lines to hold it in place. Continue until all four sides are complete.

I love the ribbon edge hem. Such an easy way to embellish/add flavor, while also creating a perfectly finished hem.

What do you think, will you give the ribbon edge hem a try? And now do you feel a craving for biscotti? Try our Healthier Biscotti Recipe. Or sew a Pillowcase Dress but instead of a bias hem like that one, use ribbon. Then pin a pic to our Reader Project Board!





Thank you for sharing this neat hem! Honestly—dealing with all the edging drives me batty! I’ve been saving ribbon that is used as packaging ( pajama sets at Target) and this is the perfect project for those.


I love this! I’ve been thinking of making mug rugs since I have a new-found addiction to tea and my youngest two kids and I have been having “tea parties” nearly every afternoon! This is a great way to finish them without having to go out and buy quilt binding or something similar! 🙂


Hi! This is adorable. So, what does the backside of the mug rug look like? I think I’m missing whether you sew on the same row where you attached it to the back of the mug rug, or if you folded it up *past* that line and sewed a new line of stitches, so that, from the back, you have a line of stitching running above the ribbon?


the back does not look pretty like the front, i just folded the ribbon to the back and sewed on along the exact same lines as the front to attach it. since i’d never use this upside down it’s a-ok. not sure if that answers your question though cause i’m not quite picturing what you’re describing.

Holly S

This is super cute and the ribbon edge is a genius idea…not sewing, turning right side and ironing flat…love that!


Neat-o! I’ve been thinking about adding ribbon to a lampshade that’s just not doing it for me anymore…got to find a quirky, wide ribbon out there first, though!


What is that rug/mat that your mug mat is photographed on? I love the earthiness and texture. Great contrast to your mug mat.


I need to try this sometime. 🙂 PS do you use fray check or anything on the end of the ribbon that’s wrapped around back?


I have a quilted string potholder that I finished several months ago and have taken the binding off and redone it like 5 times. Now it’s just sitting there waiting for me to finish it. I love this idea and can’t believe after so many attempts to fix this thing I haven’t thought of this already. Thanks for the idea and tutorial!!


What needle sized did you use when sewing on the ribbon? I’ve been having trouble sewing on grosgrain ribbon.


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