Once you get the hang of it, making a decorative bow isn’t difficult at all. We learned to make these bows decades ago, and have been making them ever since for all sorts of indoor and outdoor home decor projects.
Like this outdoor Christmas ‘tree’ topped with an opulent bow and long curving tails –
For the bow in the above photo and the one we’ll be making in this tutorial, think of it in terms of two identical sides radiating from a center point. The bow will appear flat in the beginning as the ribbon is layered back and forth.
You may want to practice with some inexpensive ribbon at first. You would be disappointed if you bought a spool of expensive ribbon that ended up in tatters after practicing!
Also, you may want to practice by making a simple bow that has maybe 6 or 8 loops (total) so that you don’t have too much to hold between your fingers as the bow is made. The more ribbon you use to create a fuller bow means you will have to hold more of it between your fingers until all the gathers are secured with wire.
But even a simple bow can be beautiful –
Besides ribbon, you will need wire, like paddle wire or florist wire, to cinch the ribbon and secure it, and scissors or pliers for cutting (paddle wire is easily cut with scissors). Cut the wire before making the bow, since your one hand will be full of ribbon at the very end!
Cut the wire longer than what you will need just to secure the layers of ribbon of the bow – the extra length will be used to attach the bow to your project.
Just as a note, we typically don’t cut the ribbon in a pre-determined length – we just let it unravel from the spool until the bow is made. Obviously you can cut it if you like, but don’t forget to include the length of both tails.
Making a Decorative Bow for Home Decor Projects
For practice, you really don’t need a long tail on the bow. But if you are going to make a bow to actually use for decorating, or other purpose, you’ll need to decide on how long you want the tail to be. If you’re using wired edge ribbon, long curving tails can be really attractive.
After you have the tail length determined, the first loop you make is the smallest loop of the bow. This loop will be the very center of your bow (we refer to it as the ‘Center Loop’ in this tutorial) and will cover the wire you use at the very end of the bow making.
While holding the ribbon with your center loop in place, bring the ribbon to the opposite side to make the first loop of the bow itself.
If your ribbon has a front face and a back side (similar to fabric), twist the ribbon at the center point of the bow as you cross over to the other side of the bow. Keeping the front face of the ribbon outward on the loops creates a very attractive finish.
You’re looking at the back of the bow here –
The bow is created by bringing the ribbon back and forth from behind. The size of the loops are made in pairs – the size you make on one side will be mirrored on the other side, and the loops should increase in size as you continue to make more loop layers. With this type of bow, you start with small loops and end with the largest. Just a note – you can have an uneven number of total loops, as in this bow tutorial (there are 7 loops).
This ‘in progress’ photo shows the layering of the ribbon creating the bow’s loops –
After you have the bow as full as you want it to be, take that piece of wire that you cut earlier and wrap it tightly around the center of the bow – that first small loop you made for the center loop should be right next to the wire.
It doesn’t look like a bow at this point, does it? But it soon will! The extra length of wire is for attaching the bow to your project.
The ribbon at the center of the bow should be cinched and pinched together by the wire. After the ribbon is secured with the wire, this is when we usually cut the second tail. For certain projects, we make a decorative diagonal cut for the ends of the tails.
After the bow it secured with the wire, open the small center loop, and center it over the wire. Hold the bow between your fingers tightly (we usually place a thumb inside that center loop) and begin to separate the loop layers by gently pulling the loops in different directions to create the bow.
Wired edge ribbon is so great for these decorative bows, and that is what we used here in this tutorial, and the first photo. With this type of ribbon you can give a full shape to these large bows that doesn’t ‘fall’ out.
We hope you give it a try!