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   How to make your own bows Posted by Chica 
December 9, 2008 
Chica
 

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 is the same. And it’s easy!

Choose your ribbon

You can use any ribbon you want, from everyday plastic to soft cloth 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 perfectly with this technique. 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.

Determine your bow size

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 photos in this post, I used 1.5″ wide ribbon, and made 3″ loops (twice the width).

Begin wrapping the ribbon

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). 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 bowsmake your own bows

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

make your own bows

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.

Re-fold the loops

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.

make your own bows

Re-fold the circle so that the center points are now the end points. Look closely at the first picture below and see how the two ribbon ends are positioned near the crease. This overlap is important.

make your own bowsmake your own bows

Snip the corners

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 bows

When you’re done, separate the circle of ribbon again, and return the notched parts to the center of the bow.

make your own bowsmake your own bows

Secure and open the bow

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 bows

Then begin working on one set of loops to form the bow. Starting with the innermost loop, pull it out to the right and give it a twist so that it’s separated from the others.

make your own bowsmake your own bows

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 bows

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

make your own bowsmake your own bows

Extra touches

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

make your own bowsmake your own bows

Now it’s ready to hang from a wreath or gift basket!

make your own bows

Advanced technique

Once you’ve gotten comfortable with this basic technique, you might want to try something extra fun. When you wrap the ribbon around and around in circles, instead of using just one ribbon, use two ribbons in two different colors. Just wrap them together like they were one ribbon, and do all the other steps the same (but when it comes time to count 7-10 loops, remember that you’re doing two at a time, so you only need to go around 4-5 times!)

make your own bowsmake your own bows

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 bows

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24 comments so far:

  1. Kristi said: (December 9th, 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 said: (December 9th, 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 said: (December 22nd, 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 said: (September 28th, 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 said: (September 29th, 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 said: (September 29th, 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 said: (November 25th, 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 said: (November 25th, 2010 at 8:25 pm)

    Tracey, so glad you found us!

  9. Dawn Bolder said: (May 22nd, 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 said: (May 22nd, 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 said: (July 17th, 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 said: (July 17th, 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 said: (July 18th, 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 said: (May 11th, 2013 at 11:40 am)

    Hi

    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 said: (May 11th, 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 said: (September 14th, 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 said: (September 16th, 2013 at 9:30 pm)

    I will share this technique to my students. Thanks!

  18. addie said: (October 12th, 2013 at 2:56 pm)

    hi I like the bows there awesome

  19. HILDA said: (December 2nd, 2013 at 11:11 am)

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

    THANK YOU

  20. Olga Torres said: (December 21st, 2013 at 10:22 am)

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

  21. Brooke said: (December 22nd, 2013 at 9:50 am)

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

  22. Chica said: (December 22nd, 2013 at 4:58 pm)

    You’re very welcome, Olga and Brooke!!

  23. Terri said: (February 10th, 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 said: (August 9th, 2014 at 6:35 pm)

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

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