How to Cut Dovetail Ribbon

Dovetail ribbons are a classic and elegant way to add texture and detail to any sewing or crafting project. They are often used for creating beautiful borders, embellishments on clothing, and adding that special touch to gift wrapping. However, cutting dovetail ribbon can be tricky if you don’t know the proper technique.

How to Cut Dovetail Ribbon

The main advantage of learning to cut dovetail ribbon is the added versatility it provides. Dovetailing, also known as finger jointing, is a woodworking technique used to join two pieces of wood at a 90-degree angle.

It creates a secure and long-lasting bond between two pieces of wood, making it ideal for creating strong joints in furniture or other wooden structures. You can find step-by-step instructions on how to cut dovetail ribbon in this blog article.

Tools You Will Need

  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Cutting Mat
  • Scissors
  • Craft Knife
  • Tape Measure
  • Straight Edge or Metal Ruler
  • Fabric or Ribbon
  • Pins and Needles
  • Sewing Machine

Step-by-step Instructions for How to Cut Dovetail Ribbon

Step 1: Inspect the Ribbon

Before you begin cutting the dovetail ribbon, it is important to inspect it for any imperfections or damages. Look for frayed edges, loose threads, or discoloration that could impact the quality of your cuts.

Step 2: Gather the Necessary Tools

To properly cut dovetail ribbon, you will need a few essential tools including sharp scissors or a rotary cutter, a cutting mat, and a ruler or straight edge. Using your ruler or straight edge, measure the desired length of ribbon that you want to cut. It is important to remember that for dovetail cuts, you will need an extra inch on each end for creating the tails.

Measure the Desired Length of Ribbon That You Want to Cut

Step 3: Create Triangle Guidelines

Using a pencil, lightly mark the desired width of your dovetail tails at both ends of the ribbon. Then, starting from each end, draw diagonal lines to connect the two marks and create triangle guidelines. Using sharp scissors or a rotary cutter, carefully cut along the diagonal lines, creating triangular tabs at each end of the ribbon. Be sure to stay as close to the guideline as possible for clean, precise cuts.

Step 4: Trim Excess Ribbon

Once you have cut along the guidelines, there may be excess ribbon leftover. Use your scissors or rotary cutter to carefully trim off any extra pieces, making sure to follow the triangular shape of the tabs. Next, carefully fold the triangular tabs over to create the tails of your dovetail ribbon. Make sure they are aligned with each other and that there is a slight space between them for the dovetail effect.

Step 5: Secure Tails

Using a small amount of fabric glue or double-sided tape, secure the folded tabs in place. This will help keep them in position while you make your final cuts. Using a pencil, lightly mark the desired width of your dovetail tails at both ends of the ribbon. Then, starting from each end, draw diagonal lines to connect the two marks and create additional cutting guidelines.

 Starting From Each End Draw Diagonal Lines to Connect

Step 6: Make Final Cuts

With the tails secured in place, carefully cut along the additional guidelines to create the final dovetail shape. Take your time and make sure to stay as close to the guideline as possible for a clean, professional look. Once you have made your final cuts, use an eraser or damp cloth to gently remove any leftover pencil marks from the ribbon.

By following these simple steps, you can easily cut dovetail ribbon to use for a variety of crafts and projects. With practice, you will be able to create beautiful and precise dovetail cuts with ease. Remember to always inspect your ribbon before cutting and use high-quality tools for the best results.

Precautions  for How to Cut Dovetail Ribbon

  • Wear protective gear such as gloves and safety glasses
  • Use a sharp knife or scissors to ensure precise cuts
  • Keep fingers away from the blade while cutting
  • Place a cutting mat or board underneath for stability
  • Always cut away from your body, never towards it
  • Take frequent breaks to avoid fatigue and maintain focus
  • Keep children and pets away from the cutting area

Dovetail ribbon is a versatile and beautiful material that can be used in a variety of crafts such as card making, scrapbooking, and gift wrapping. Its signature zigzag pattern adds an elegant touch to any project. However, cutting dovetail ribbon can be tricky and dangerous if proper precautions are not taken.

Best Techniques for Cutting Dovetail Ribbon

Dovetail cuts are a popular and visually appealing technique for creating strong joints in woodworking projects. However, cutting dovetail ribbon can be intimidating for beginners due to the precision required to achieve clean and straight cuts. In this guide, we will discuss the best techniques for cutting dovetail ribbon, as well as common mistakes that beginners should avoid.

 Precision Required to Achieve Clean and Straight Cuts

1. Use a High-Quality Saw

The most important tool for cutting dovetail ribbon is a high-quality saw. A fine-toothed, 14 TPI (teeth per inch) saw designed specifically for woodworking is recommended for making precise and clean cuts. It’s important to keep the blade well-maintained and sharp to prevent splintering or tearing of the wood.

2. Mark Your Cuts

Before cutting, be sure to mark your cuts on both pieces of wood to ensure they align perfectly. Use a marking gauge or pencil to create a clear and visible line for your saw blade to follow.

3. Cut Slightly Outside The Line

When making the actual cut, it’s best to cut slightly outside the marked line. This will allow for any errors and give you room to make adjustments if needed.

4. Use a Backer Board

To prevent tear-out on the back side of the wood, it’s important to use a backer board when cutting dovetail ribbon. This can be a piece of scrap wood or even a sheet of paper.

5. Practice Makes Perfect

Like any woodworking skill, cutting dovetail ribbon takes practice. If you’re new to this technique, start with some scrap wood and practice making clean and precise cuts before moving on to your actual project.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

1. Rushing the Cut

One of the most common mistakes beginners make when cutting dovetail ribbon is rushing the cut. This can result in uneven or crooked cuts, making it difficult to achieve a tight and secure joint.

2. Using the Wrong Saw

Using a saw with too few teeth per inch or one not specifically designed for woodworking can lead to jagged and rough cuts. This will not only affect the appearance of your project but also make it more difficult to create a strong joint.

3. Not Marking the Cuts

Skipping the step of marking your cuts can lead to misaligned pieces and a poorly fitting joint. Take the time to mark your cuts accurately before making any cuts.

4. Using Dull Blades

Using a dull saw blade is not only dangerous but also leads to splintering and tear-out on the wood. Keep your saw blades sharp and well-maintained to achieve clean and precise cuts.

 Keep Your Saw Blades Sharp and Well-maintained

Cutting dovetail ribbon may seem intimidating at first, but with the right techniques and tools, it can be a rewarding and enjoyable skill to master. Remember to take your time, use the proper saw, mark your cuts accurately, and practice regularly.

Are There Any Tips for Maintaining Sharp Cutting Edges on Your Tools While Working With Ribbon?

Maintaining sharp cutting edges on tools can be a challenge when working with ribbon due to its delicate and soft nature. However, there are some tips that can help you maintain sharp cutting edges while using ribbon. Firstly, it is important to choose the right type of tool for cutting ribbon.

Scissors or shears with very fine and sharp blades work best for this purpose. Dull or blunt blades can cause the ribbon to fray or tear, resulting in an uneven and messy cut.

In addition, it is important to regularly sharpen your cutting tools to ensure they stay sharp while working with ribbon. This can be done using a sharpening stone or a tool specifically designed for sharpening scissors or shears.

Another tip is to always cut the ribbon at a slight angle rather than straight across. This helps to prevent the ends of the ribbon from fraying and losing their shape.


In conclusion, cutting dovetail ribbon is a useful skill to have for various crafting and sewing projects. With the right tools and techniques, you can create beautiful and professional-looking finishes on garments, accessories, or home decor items. One key tip to keep in mind when practicing this technique is to always start with a longer piece of ribbon than needed. This allows room for error and adjustments as you become more comfortable with the process.

Additionally, it’s important to use sharp scissors or a rotary cutter to ensure clean and precise cuts. This will result in neater and more polished looking dovetail ends.

Remember to always practice on scraps of fabric and ribbon before attempting to cut on your final project, as it may take some time to perfect your technique. I hope this article has been beneficial for learning how to cut dovetail ribbon. Make Sure the precautionary measures are followed chronologically. 

Photo of author

Jennifer Branett

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