Chica and Jo
...simplifying life
Chica and Jo
...simplifying life
Chica and Jo



How to make your own bows

by: Chica

How to make your own bows
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With Christmas decorations going up and wrapped packages going under the tree, we all find ourselves in great need of bows. This doesn’t just happen at this time of year, though. We need bows all year long, for packages, baskets, and boxes. While it’s easy enough to buy bows at any store that sells wrapping supplies, they usually cost a small fortune, especially for the big, beautiful ones. The good news is that it’s easy to make your own bows out of ribbon! From sweet little bows made of inexpensive ribbon to glorious, luscious bows made of glittery, satin ribbon, the technique I’m going to show you is the same.

You can use any ribbon you want, from everyday plastic to colorful grosgrain to luxurious silk. Wired ribbon tends to give the best results, because you can shape the loops exactly how you want them. Ribbon that is printed on only one side works great with this technique because only one side will show. The width of the ribbon will determine the size of your bow — thin ribbon should be used for small bows, and wide ribbon should be used for large bows.

make your own bows

For the best proportional results, you’ll want the length of the bow’s loops to be about 2-3 times the width of the ribbon. So, if you have 1″ wide ribbon, your loops will be 2-3″ long, making a bow that’s 4-6″ across when completed. You’ve got some leeway here with the loop size, but don’t go to extremes. If your loops are too short or too long, your bow will look funny. For the bow I made in this tutorial, I used 1.5″ wide ribbon, and made 3″ loops (twice the width).

Make the first loop in the ribbon, measuring the width. Let the end of the ribbon overlap your center point by about an inch (so that the end won’t fall out of the bow later).

make your own bow with ribbon

Then make the second loop, and pinch it in the middle. Take care here to measure the width of the loops and the total width of the bow, to make sure you’re in the right range. (My bow is 6″ wide in these photos, with 3″ loops.)

make your own bow with ribbon

Then wrap the ribbon around about 7-10 times, depending on how full you want your bow to be.

make your own bow with ribbon

When you cut the end of the ribbon off, be sure to let it go about an inch past the center point again, so that the end won’t fall out of the bow later.

Open up the circle of ribbon a bit, holding the two center points with your fingers. Take care not to drop the two ends of the ribbon.

Re-fold the circle so that the center points are now the end points.

make your own bow with ribbon

Be very careful to make sure your ends are positioned so that they go about 1-2 inches past the fold. This will keep the ends from falling out of the bow.

make your own bow with ribbon

Holding one of the creases firmly in your hand, use a pair of sharp scissors to snip off the corners of the ribbon. Be careful not to cut the ribbon all the way across, or else the bow will fall apart. Just notch out the corners to remove some of the bulk.

make your own bow with ribbon

When you’re done, separate the circle of ribbon again, holding on to those notched parts and returning them to the center of the bow.

make your own bow with ribbon

Bring both notched areas together in the middle and hold securely.

make your own bow with ribbon

Now take a wire, chenille stem, or piece of ribbon and tie it very tightly around the notched area in the center of the bow.

make your own bow with ribbon

Then begin working on one set of loops to form the bow. Starting with the innermost loop, pull it out to the right…

make your own bow with ribbon

…and give it a twist so that it’s separated from the others.

make your own bow with ribbon

Then pull the next loop out, this time to the left, and give it a twist. Continue with the remaining loops, varying the direction you pull them out and the direction you twist them, so that the loops are all independent.

make your own bow with ribbon

When you’re done with one set of loops, do the same for the other set. When all the loops are pulled out, you can shape them and arrange them until they’re just right.

make your own bow with ribbon

To attach it to a package or decoration, just tie in place with the wire or ribbon you tied around the center.

For an extra special touch, you can add some ribbons to hang from the bow. Just cut a length of ribbon and lay it across the ribbon or wire you’ve already got on the bow.

make your own bow with ribbon

Then twist the wire (or tie the ribbon) to secure it in place.

make your own bow with ribbon

Now it’s ready to hang from a wreath or basket, or adorn a special gift.

make your own bow with ribbon

Want to try something cool? Grab two colors of ribbon and loop them both at the same time, as if they were one ribbon.

make your own bow with ribbon

When you count your loops, since you’re doing two at a time, only go around 4-5 times instead of 7-10 times.

make your own bow with ribbon

Follow all the regular steps, and when you’re done, you’ll end up with a multi-colored bow that your friends will go crazy over, especially when you tell them you made it yourself!

make your own bow with ribbon

How to make your own bows
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28 comments so far:

  • 1
    Kristi 12/09/2008 at 10:03 am

    Can you make pew bows for weddings or other events using this same technique? How much ribbon should I use to make a decent sized bow?

  • 2
    Chica 12/09/2008 at 10:27 am

    This technique would work great for pew bows, Kristi, and I’ve done so for several of my friends. For one wedding, we made two bows and attached them back-to-back, making a full, round, “bow ball” that was hung from the pew. It was so pretty.

    To determine how much ribbon you’ll need, work from the size of the bow. For a 6″ wide bow, your circles will each need 12″ of ribbon, so if you make 7-10 circles, you’ll need 7-10 feet of ribbon. Similarly, for a 4″ wide bow, you’d have 8″ circles and would need about 5-7 feet of ribbon. Hope that helps!

  • 3
    Gal 12/22/2009 at 12:37 pm

    thank you so much. I learned it and made a beautiful bow on my wife’s present.

  • 4
    Chelsea Kimberlin 09/28/2010 at 8:09 pm

    Homecoming is this week and I really wanted to make my own mum. My mom just told me to use the base of my sister’s old 1 but I really didn’t want to. Do you think this would work?

  • 5
    Chica 09/29/2010 at 12:50 pm

    Hi Chelsea. I had never heard of a homecoming mum before seeing your comment, but I looked them up and they sound like a pretty neat tradition! From the pictures I’ve seen, I don’t think the bow we show you how to make in this tutorial will give you the right look for a traditional mum. Try Googling for “make a homecoming mum” and there are lots of tutorials out there that I think will help. Good luck and happy homecoming!

  • 6
    Chelsea Kimberlin 09/29/2010 at 9:01 pm

    Yeah my friend told me today that it’s more of a Texas tradition. I didn’t know that. Thanks for the help!

  • 7
    Tracey 11/25/2010 at 10:45 am

    I skimmed through a few “giant bow” tutorials online before I found this one, and I picked this one because it looked the simplest. It was so easy, and I made the prettiest bows out of sheer wired ribbon to tie onto my banister to go with my Christmas decorations. Thanks for the instructions!

  • 8
    Jo 11/25/2010 at 8:25 pm

    Tracey, so glad you found us!

  • 9
    Dawn Bolder 05/22/2011 at 6:56 am

    Hi from England Uk,

    Just to say, I have found this bow demonstration the easiest to follow and as a result I have made some wonderful bows for use on my husbands vehicle which we use as a wedding car service. I have added rosebuds, gypsophyillia and pearls glued to the centre of each bow and the results are fabulous and look very luxurious on the vehicle, thankyou.

  • 10
    Chica 05/22/2011 at 8:27 am

    Thank you for the high compliment, Dawn. We’re so glad our bow tutorial has helped you decorate the car. We’d love to see a photo if you’ve got one to share!

  • 11
    Justina 07/17/2011 at 3:09 pm

    I’m looking for up to date books on how to make a variety of bows, especially those that are unique that I can decorate for Christenings and Weddings. Do you have any books that you can suggest?

  • 12
    Justina 07/17/2011 at 3:15 pm

    I forgot to mention that I did currently purchase a book called, “Creative Bows Made Easy.” I’m looking for more ideas.

  • 13
    Chica 07/18/2011 at 7:07 am

    Justina, our favorite book about ribbons and bows is “The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts”. You can read the our book review of it to get a glimpse of what’s inside!

  • 14
    Sylvia 05/11/2013 at 11:40 am


    I would like to make some bows 10″ wide to decorate a boat for a silver wedding. I have seen that you can make two bows and put them together (one at the back that you pull out to be flatter and then a smaller one (8.5″) to go at the front in a different colour). What I am wondering is how many times I should wrap the ribbon around for each size that you put together. Do you have any ideas?

  • 15
    Chica 05/11/2013 at 5:53 pm

    Sylvia, I’m afraid you’re going to have to do some experimenting to see what number of wraps works best for you. It’s going to depend on how wide your ribbon is, how big the bow is, and how full you want it.

  • 16
    Emery Dotson 09/14/2013 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks I will try this technique. Never knew how to make a good and pretty bow, but this sounds simple!

  • 17
    jophet 09/16/2013 at 9:30 pm

    I will share this technique to my students. Thanks!

  • 18
    addie 10/12/2013 at 2:56 pm

    hi I like the bows there awesome

  • 19
    HILDA 12/02/2013 at 11:11 am

    I am so please that i can make my own bows****


  • 20
    Olga Torres 12/21/2013 at 10:22 am

    Excellent tutorial for beautiful bows! Thank you very much Chica!!!

  • 21
    Brooke 12/22/2013 at 9:50 am

    SO EASY! My bows on my Christmas presents look so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this!

  • 22
    Chica 12/22/2013 at 4:58 pm

    You’re very welcome, Olga and Brooke!!

  • 23
    Terri 02/10/2014 at 7:47 pm

    I could not find larger bows like I wanted. I found your tutorial and successfully made several in yellow to put on my porch pillars and our front-yard trees as our son is a marine deployed. They worked beautifully. Thank you for making it simple. :)

  • 24
    Amy 08/09/2014 at 6:35 pm

    I just tried this and made a beatiful bow!! My first bow!! Thank you so much!!

  • 25
    Kelly 12/03/2015 at 4:08 pm

    You are really good at explaining instructions with out having video. I have a 9 ft spool of ribbon that is 1.5 wide. Do I need to find longer spools for making bows topping garland hanging over my brick mailbox and lights on my porch and over the garage. I wanted the ribbon from dollar tree but I don’t want to waste money if that’s too short. I don’t want a 4 inch wide bow. I want them more like 8 inches wide.

  • 26
    Chica 12/06/2015 at 9:59 am

    Kelly, thanks for the compliment! Afraid I’m not going to be able to tell you if the ribbon you’re looking at will be too short or not. It will depend on how many loops you add to your bow. Best best is to just try and see!

  • 27
    maczsa 10/25/2016 at 8:08 am

    thanks much, Chica! helped me alot..

  • 28
    Betty M 01/18/2017 at 7:25 pm

    In Sturgis and other area schools it was a tradition to order a white mum with a bow on it with ribbon hanging down. The mum would be pinned on the homecoming girls. School girls, teachers
    And Mothers would wear them for Homecoming activities.

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