Make Your Own Ribbon Dispenser for Free

ribbon dispenser box
Click to Enlarge

I have so much ribbon it just makes a mess everywhere.  I stack them 4 or 5 spools high and make rows out of the stacks.  It might sound like this is a matso-matso method of organization but in all reality it’s much worse than it sounds; it’s a downright  lousy method.

When I’m making a hair bow I end up spending a good 5 minutes or so hunting through the rows of stacks in search of just the right ribbon.  Last night while looking for a certain spool of white and black polka dotted grosgrain I accidentally knocked over my glass of water. and let’s just say several spools of ribbon got washed.

I was pretty pissed off while I was trying to dry out my ribbon and make sure none of the fabric was ruined.  First I yelled at the ribbon, “Damnit!” then I yelled at the water, “What the hell!”  and then I turned and yelled at my husband, “You were supposed to build me a ribbon box 3 weeks ago!  If I had a ribbon box my ribbon wouldn’t be all wet!”

At Michael’s craft store there are these white, wooden, ribbon dispensers that cost $29.  I like them and I’d buy a few if they weren’t $29 because they only hold a few spools of ribbon and well, that just ain’t gonna work for me.  I asked Mr. Suburbanwife if he would build me one since he has more time on his hands than I do.  I’m still waiting.

After my husband left me to mop up the water it dawned on me that I didn’t have to have a fancy wooden ribbon dispenser box; basically all I needed was something efficient.  Who cares what it looks like.  Besides, by  the time he builds me one I’ll probably be out of the hair bow business.  So on the fly, spur of the moment I came up with a quick idea for a ribbon dispenser using crap I already have on hand.  It turned out pretty cool, being cheap and all, so I thought I’d share my idea.  Here’s the instructions for building your own free, cheap and cool ribbon dispenser box that holds as many spools of ribbon as you want it to.

Supplies Needed

1 cardboard box

wooden dowel rods, floral wire, coat hangers or any other thing you can use through the middle of your spools of ribbon.  I had some fabric coated floral wire on hand that I used.  You could even use a length of rope or ribbon if you have to – it’ll just sag a tad bit.

Duct tape

Buttons or toggles if you have them.


1.  Remove the flaps from the top of the box so that your box is open from the top.  If you want to decorate your box this would be the right time.  You can decorate it with contact adhesive shelf paper, wrapping paper, paint, crayons, makers etc.

2.  Place as many spools of ribbon in the box as will fit.  Stand them up like in the photo of my box.  Organize them according to size so the fit coherently inside your box.

3.  Take out all the ribbon except for one spool.

ribbon dispenser box
Click to Enlarge In this box there are two spools of ribbon standing up. Depending on the size of your box you can stack as many rows as will fit. As an option you can also leave the top flaps on so you can close your box.

4.  Stick an ink pen through the hole in the center of the spool of ribbon and make a little mark.  Repeat this on the other side of the box.

5.  Jab something sharp through the mark you made.  (I used the ink pen)

6.  Insert the dowel rod, floral wire, coat hanger or whatever you’re using to hold the ribbon in place, through one of the holes you just made.

7.  thread ribbon spools onto the “rod” and then push the “rod” (or whatever you’re using) through the hole in the other end.

ribbon dispenser box
Click to Enlarge IT's a little hard to see (and I do apologize for my lack of photography skills) but there is a dark green fabric coated floral wire pinched between my thumb and forefinger. The wire is threaded through those spools of ribbon and through a hole in the box.

8.  If you’re using a coat hanger or floral wire then you’ll need to bend the ends up a bit so it will all stay in place.  I threaded the end of the floral wire through a button and then bent the end over.  If you’re using ribbon just tie a knot at the end that is larger than the hole. You can also simply duct tape the ends to the box.

ribbon dispenser box
Click to Enlarge This is the side of my box You can see the floral wire that is fed through the flower buttons. It ain't pretty but it holds my ribbon nice and snug while still letting it roll out.

9.  Start a new row of ribbon by repeating the steps above.

To Make it Stand Up

1.  Use two of the flaps you cut from the top.

2.  Lay the box down face first and duct tape about an inch of the top of one of the flaps to the back of your box.

3.  Duct tape the other flap to the bottom of the box and to about an inch of the bottom of the first flap already attached to the box.  See photos for explanation.

ribbon dispenser box2
Click to Enlarge My lighting is really bad but if you can, see that line of tape at the top of the back kickstand? The kickstand is one of the top flaps I cut off the box. I duct taped it to the back of the box so that it swung free. Then I taped another flap to the bottom of the flap and the bottom of the box.

ribbon dispenser box 4
Click to Enlarge the bottom flap goes all the way under the box to the front edge of the box. duct tape secures the kickstand flap on both the front and back sides of the flap. That sucker ain't coming apart!

When all else fails you could just thread some ribbon through the center of your spools and dangle it from the edge of your table by hot gluing the ribbon to the surface.  Like this:

ribbon dispenser box
Click to Enlarge
ribbon dispenser box
Finished Product

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Haphazard administration and unpredictably crazy blogging topics are the staple of Kelly's (SWL's slightly weird founder) writing career. One thing you can always be sure of is that you never know what Kelly is going to post at Suburban Wife Life next.

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