Introduction: Custom Printed Ribbon Using a Typewriter

About: I love everything about mail. I have fascinations with Cold War culture, military design, espionage, hermits, religion, and typewriters. Old books and papers are my favorite treasures, and making things by han…

As founders of the Letter Writers Alliance, we receive a lot of great stuff in the mail. Sometimes, that stuff is so great that we have to pick the brain of the sender, so that we can share their genius with the world. This tutorial is the idea of our member Lisa. She graciously shared her step-by-step and now, we're sharing it with you. Providing you have a typewriter and a little patience, it's a fairly easy and quick project.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

¼” width, light-colored satin ribbon
Card stock
Double-stick tape

Note: If you are using the ribbon to wrap a package, you might want to wrap the ribbon around the package and tie in bow to gauge how much you will need. You can also type directly from the roll of ribbon without pre-cutting it, but you may find that a little awkward. 

Step 2: Insert the Paper

Step One:
Roll your card stock into the machine. I used card stock because it is a little thicker than regular paper and held up well to the tape and ribbon replacement during the course of the typing. 

Step 3: Apply the Tape and Ribbon

Run a length of double-stick tape across the top of the paper as shown in the first photo. Then adhere your ribbon to the tape, keeping the ribbon as straight as possible.

Step 4: Position the Ribbon

You then should roll the paper with the tape and ribbon back into the machine so that the type will be aligned roughly in the center of the ribbon. The machine I'm using (a Hermes 3000) has a paper guard on it which shows me the baseline of my type. The tape also likes to stick to it; so when rolling in, I have to unstick the paper from the guard using my fingers. If you don't know where the baseline is on your machine, do a test print. You should take notice where the bottom of the type appears on the page relative to the machine, and then you should be able to align your ribbon based on that.

NOTE: You may have to roll the paper back up and re-position the ribbon if your type isn't going to hit in the center. Just roll it back up, carefully remove the tape and then re-adhere it either higher or lower on the page.

Step 5: Type Your Message

That's it! Once you've properly aligned the ribbon, you're ready to type. Use your typewriter to add a thank you note or another message to your ribbon. It's up to you and the alphabet now. When you have typed to the edge of the page, you can roll up your paper, remove your ribbon, and then repeat steps three - five. Keep it up until you've finished all of your ribbon.

Step 6: Use Your Ribbon

Now you have a custom printed ribbon to use for wrapping packages or making tags or any other things you can think of. I cut out little snips of the messages and glued them to cards, making special note cards for my pen pals. I hope you've been inspired to try typing on something other than paper. We'd love to see and share your creations. Please let us know if you make something with this or if you have another project to share. And thanks again to Lisa!
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