How to make awareness ribbons

It takes only four steps to make awareness ribbons as lapel pins or earrings you can use to support causes important to you.

Wearing an awareness ribbon pin may seem like a small or inconsequential gesture.

If you have friends or family members battling cancer represented by one of the specific color ribbons, though? It’s an elegant and simple way to raise awareness and show support.

What Are Awareness Ribbons?

My first memory of an “awareness ribbon” were red ribbons from the early 90s to raise awareness for the AIDS epidemic.

I wanted to know more, though, so I did a little research and found this article about a brief history of the lapel pin ribbons.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that they may have started in medieval times as something that was given to jousting knights.

After all, knights (and their fans) surely were some of the first people to ‘show their colors’.

Which Awareness Ribbon Colors Apply to Which Causes?

So fast forward to 2021 and the United States has a whole host of ribbon colors that represent different causes, cancers, and social issues.

In fact, one ribbon color often has multiple meanings or the ribbon may show up slightly different colors for the same thing.

The picture below illustrates some of the more popular awareness ribbons colors and what they signify.

If you are looking to wear an awareness ribbon to support specific cancers or causes here are some additional popular colors of note:

  • a pink ribbon for breast cancer
  • a yellow ribbon for childhood cancer, appendix cancer, or bone cancer (different shades of yellow ribbons, but yellow more or less)
  • a gray ribbon for brain cancer
  • a teal ribbon for ovarian cancer
  • a blue ribbon for colon cancer, and child abuse and foster care awareness (again there are different blue shades)
  • a red ribbon for blood cancers, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS
  • a green ribbon for liver cancer, lymphoma, bipolar disorder, and mental illness
  • an orange ribbon for kidney cancer and hunger awareness

4 Simple Steps To Make Awareness Ribbon Pins & Earrings

This tutorial walks you through how to make awareness ribbons in three different sizes so you can use them for a variety of applications.

When making a ribbon there is no real unique design or right size. Instead, it depends on how you intend to use it,

Awareness ribbons are so quick and easy to make you may as well make a bunch of them at once since you already have the tools and materials at hand.

My main focus is making awareness ribbon pins because they are super versatile. These DIY awareness ribbon pins can be worn on a suit coat, jacket, shirt pocket, or even a t-shirt.

These colorful ribbons can also be placed on a bag handle or purse strap.

The tutorial also shows you how to make a pair of earrings, because they make a thoughtful gift for someone you know who actively and publicly supports a cause.

What Materials and Tools Do I Need To Make An Awareness Ribbon Pin?

To start making awareness ribbon pins, you need:

Craft felt

Craft felt is typically available in a lot of vibrant colors.

You can purchase individual felt rectangles at big box stores like Walmart and Michael’s.

JoAnn’s has both single felt rectangles, as well as felt by the yard.

If you’re new to working with felt, I recommend buying felt by the yard if you are able. Buying felt by the yard is a much better price point.

With even a half a yard of felt, you will have plenty to use for the ribbons, plus extra felt to use for any other projects that are sure to come up.

Because, once you start working with felt, you’ll realize it’s great for all kinds of DIY projects.

A pin backing

To make an awareness ribbon pin it’s easiest to glue a pin backing to the back of the ribbon to secure it.

In a pinch, you can also use a safety pin. I find those harder to manipulate when I’m trying to put the pin on, though.

Earring posts & backings (2 sets, optional)

The video tutorial below includes how to make three different sizes of awareness ribbons.

The smallest size ribbon makes great earrings. For some people, earrings may be more fun to wear than a ribbon because they add an accent of color while also supporting their cause.

So, if you want to gift some earrings to a family member or friend, make sure to have some earring posts and backings ready.

Rotary cutter, mat, and ruler

If you don’t have one already, a rotary cutter and mat are wonderful tools to have for all of your craft projects.

For this awareness ribbon project specifically, it reduces the time you need to cut the felt and keeps the lines super clear when used with a ruler or straight edge.

Glue gun (and glue!)

A dollop of glue is used to secure the felt to itself and then to glue the felt ribbon to the pin tack or earring post.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon affiliate, I may receive a small commission if you purchase a product using a link below.

Cancer awareness ribbons are a simple way to show support. Developed in the 1970s as a way for military spouses to support their partners overseas, these ribbons are used for endless causes today. Cancer ribbons, in particular, encourage awareness, early detection, and research.

Jump ahead to these sections:

While you can find countless ready-made cancer ribbons online for all types of awareness, you can also easily make your own. This makes a great memorial craft , and it’s easy to create several at once to hand out to loved ones.

How do you get started? In this guide, we’ll share how to make DIY cancer awareness ribbons step-by-step. No fancy skills or expensive craft equipment necessary.

What Is a Cancer Awareness Ribbon?

First, what exactly is a cancer awareness ribbon? You’ll see them mentioned in books about cancer and online, but you’ll also see them in-person at cancer fundraisers. They’re especially common during cancer awareness months.

A cancer ribbon is a simple loop of ribbon that’s worn usually on one’s shirt as a way to show support. Cancer ribbons help spread awareness in a simple, mindful way. They’re a call for more awareness, research, and funding.

There are a large number of cancer awareness ribbons out there, and more are created each year. Every color stands for something unique, allowing the wearer to express themself in a subtle way. To those familiar with these different meanings, this is a powerful sign of support and understanding.

Join the Cake Movie Club.

Each month we’ll watch a new movie relating to loss and end of life.

Common cancer ribbon colors and meanings

Before you begin making your own DIY cancer awareness ribbon, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of what some of the most common colors mean. As mentioned above, each color symbolizes a specific type of cancer.

Some are more versatile, but it’s important to know what you’re supporting when you choose a specific color. Here are the most common colors and the causes behind them:

  • Pink: Breast cancer
  • Red: HIV and AIDS
  • Orange: Kidney cancer or leukemia
  • Peach: Endometrial cancer
  • Yellow: Bone cancer
  • Gold: Childhood cancer
  • Emerald: Liver cancer
  • Teal: Cervical cancer
  • Blue: Colon cancer
  • Light blue: Prostate cancer
  • Lavender: All cancer
  • Gray: Brain tumors and brain cancer
  • White: Lung cancer
  • Black: Melanoma and skin cancer

When is it appropriate to make a DIY cancer awareness ribbon?

When should you consider making a cancer awareness ribbon? While there are no rules, there are some times when it’s a good idea to wear a ribbon to show your support. While you can support those experiencing cancer at any time, it’s common to wear these ribbons when:

  • Attending a funeral for someone who passed from a specific cancer
  • Participating in a fundraising event
  • Competing in an athletic challenge (run, walk, race) for cancer
  • Supporting a loved one with cancer
  • Sharing your own experience with cancer
  • During an awareness month

Cancer research and support are relevant and important no matter the time of year. Remember that you never need a reason to wear a DIY cancer awareness ribbon. This might be something you wear on your clothes, attach to a bag, or hang on your home.

What You’ll Need to Make a DIY Cancer Awareness Ribbon

Before you begin, make sure you have everything you need. This is one of the easiest crafts to make from home, and you’ll only need a few simple things. Odds are you already have these in your home. Otherwise, you can find them at any basic craft store.

  • Colored ribbon: Make sure your ribbon is in the right color for the specific form of cancer you’re supporting. A thicker ribbon is best, but you might want to experiment with different thicknesses and sizes.
  • Scissors: You’ll also need scissors to cut the ribbon to the right size. These do not need to be any fancy type of scissors. Fabric or paper scissors will work just fine.
  • Glue (optional): If you’re not using a safety pin to place the ribbon on your clothes, you’ll need a way to hold the ribbon in place.
  • Magnet or pin (optional): If you want to adhere your ribbon to your clothing, you’ll also want a sticky magnet or pin so you can add your ribbon easily.

Steps for Making a Cancer Ribbon

When you’re ready to create your DIY cancer ribbon, follow the steps below. There are also handy video walkthroughs online to help you visualize this process. If you can tie a basic knot, you can make a cancer awareness ribbon of your own.

W ith Monday marking the beginning of October’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month observance, supporters will be donning their pink ribbons as a show of support for ongoing research for a cure. It’s a ritual that repeats itself for any number of causes, such as teal ribbons for ovarian cancer to red ribbons for AIDS awareness.

But when did ribbons begin to be used as symbols for various causes?

The Library of Congress’s Folklife Center has studied the history of such awareness ribbons in American culture, and found that many citizens assume that the tradition is older than it is. Among the most frequently asked questions posed to librarians on the topic is whether families of Civil War soldiers displayed ribbons for missing loved ones during the Civil War, a theory often informed by the 1949 John Wayne film She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. That movie’s story was inspired by a military ditty in which the yellow ribbon appears as a symbol for a far-away lover. That song dates back to the mid-19th century but the center argues that the roots of awareness ribbons can be traced to a much more recent pop-culture reference.

In 1973, Tony Orlando and Dawn released the record “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” written by Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown. It reportedly sold three million records within the first three weeks of its release. The tune is about a recently released prisoner who sings that his sweetheart should tie a yellow ribbon around an oak tree if she stills loves him, but the lyrics about an anticipated reunion struck a chord with Vietnam prisoners of war who had returned home earlier that year and attended the Cotton Bowl in Dallas where the artists opened for comedian Bob Hope.

Soon enough, people were actually tying yellow ribbons around trees.

Notably, a few years later, Penne Laingen tied a yellow ribbon around a tree in her Bethesda, Md., yard while she waited for her husband Bruce Laingen. He had been charge d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Tehran and was one of 66 American hostages seized by Iranian students on Nov. 4, 1979. On Dec. 10, 1979, the Washington Post reported that she suggested others do the same. Other families of hostages followed suit, and sympathetic Americans too. Even the hostages themselves Kathryn Koob and Elizabeth Ann Swift were wearing yellow ribbons in their hair in a Christmas-themed propaganda video released around the holidays, TIME reported. By the time the hostages were en route home the next month, after 444 days, “Yellow ribbons were tied to virtually everything that could not or would not resist: trees, lampposts, TV cameras, trumpets, drums, pretty girls, the hostages’ homes and public buildings, including the White House.” It was, TIME reported, “a traditional American symbol of separated sweethearts.”

Get our History Newsletter. Put today's news in context and see highlights from the archives.

Thank you!

The yellow ribbons would also be tied to trees during the TWA Flight 847 hostage crisis in 1985 and during the First Gulf War in 1990 and 1991. The latter conflict coincided with a key moment for AIDS activism, and thus the yellow ribbons inspired advocates to create a red ribbon to raise awareness about the disease. Jeremy Irons popularized the idea by wearing a red ribbon when he hosted the Tony Awards on Jun. 2, 1991.

Shortly after, reportedly inspired by those other awareness ribbons, Charlotte Haley, a 68-year-old housewife in Simi Valley, Calif., created a peach-colored ribbon that she hoped could raise awareness about breast cancer, the disease that her grandmother, sister and daughter had. At the local supermarket, she handed them out in packets of five attached to a postcard that read: “The National Cancer Institute’s annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.” By May 1992, The New York Times had already dubbed that year “The Year of the Ribbon.”

While the Susan G. Komen Foundation says it began handing out pink ribbons at its first Race for the Cure in Oct. 1991, the pink ribbon became even more popular after Self magazine featured it on the cover of that month’s issue and partnered with the businesswoman and philanthropist Evelyn Lauder to hand out 1.5 million pink ribbons at Estée Lauder makeup counters. Eventually, the association with the cause spread beyond the ribbon to the color pink itself. In 2006, TIME reported that Komen’s partnerships with pink promoters raked in $30 million a year.

By now, awareness ribbons are such a ubiquitous idea that some businesses have been accused of trying to cash in on the enthusiasm they generate. “Pinkwashing” has come to refer to the process of using the color pink to generate goodwill while only making some minimal or perfunctory contribution to the actual cause of breast-cancer research and awareness. “In other words, take off those rose-tinted glasses,” TIME advised readers in 2006, “ask questions and read the fine, pink print.”

Awareness ribbon pins have long served as a way for people to make a statement of support for a cause or issue. We create thousands of awareness ribbon pins annually, and can easily customize pins to fit your needs to help you represent your cause, business, or organization. Our awareness ribbon pins are tailor-made to your specifications, which means that you pick the color schemes, design, and layout.

We use the Pantone Matching System, which means that identifying and matching the exact colors you’d like to use is easier than ever. And there are over a thousand colors available to choose from. We’ll then personalize your message by adding any text you’d like to the pin. Whether it be for a well known cause or a local one, such as a memorial or fundraiser, awareness ribbon pins make a statement and an impact.

Awareness Ribbon Color Meanings means the color that represents a certain cause. There are thousands of causes that people believe in and support, however not everyone knows that color that represents certain causes.

The Pin People has tried to create a pretty comprehensive list of different causes and the colors that represent that cause, however because there are literally thousands of causes and different colors that represent different causes we do need your help to grow our list, to be truly comprehensive.

You can view the Awareness Ribbon Color Meanings Page that we have created and feel free to drop us a line about any causes that you may have an involvement with that is not currently on our list, and we will add the color to our ever growing list. Awareness Ribbon Pins have been a center of expressing people dedication to their cause. We would like to help people better identify those colors for a clearer understanding for everyone.

Some of the more notable causes we’ve created pins for include AIDS, cancer, and autism awareness. Our trained staff will work with you to make custom ribbon pins that will be worn for years to come.

Etsy uses cookies and similar technologies to give you a better experience, enabling things like:

  • basic site functions
  • ensuring secure, safe transactions
  • secure account login
  • remembering account, browser, and regional preferences
  • remembering privacy and security settings
  • analysing site traffic and usage
  • personalized search, content, and recommendations
  • helping sellers understand their audience
  • showing relevant, targeted ads on and off Etsy

Detailed information can be found in Etsy’s Cookies & Similar Technologies Policy and our Privacy Policy.

Required Cookies & Technologies

Some of the technologies we use are necessary for critical functions like security and site integrity, account authentication, security and privacy preferences, internal site usage and maintenance data, and to make the site work correctly for browsing and transactions.

Персонализированная реклама

Для показа рекламных объявлений Etsy по интересам используются технические решения сторонних компаний.

Мы привлекаем к этому партнеров по маркетингу и рекламе (которые могут располагать собранной ими самими информацией). Отказ не означает прекращения демонстрации рекламы Etsy или изменений в алгоритмах персонализации Etsy, но может привести к тому, что реклама будет повторяться чаще и станет менее актуальной. Подробнее в нашей Политике в отношении файлов Cookie и схожих технологий.