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How to Make a Decorative Bow

With holiday decorating getting into full swing I thought it would be great to do a step by step guide on how to make a decorative bow. I remember about twenty years ago watching an instructional VHS video (yep…showing my age!) that I borrowed from a family member. After a few times watching it I was making bows myself.  Twenty years later I have made thousands of bows! 

There are step-by-step instructions below with pictures and also a video that you can click on at the bottom of this blog to help you too. Just like anything practice makes perfect, so if you don’t get it right the first few tries keep practicing. 

I suggest when you are making bows use a ribbon with wired edging. This type of ribbon is easier to work with than those without wire. So grab your ribbon, a sharp pair of scissors, and floral wire (or pipe cleaners) and let’s get started!

Step One

Did you know most ribbon has a front side and a back side? One side will be deeper in colour or, for instance, a red velvet ribbon as shown here. The velvet is the front side and the backside is more matte with no velvet on it. The front side is what we want to make sure is showing on your bow.

Step Two

Decide how long you would like the tail of the bow to be. Pinch the ribbon together with your dominant hand and your non-dominant hand will hold where the ribbon is pinched.

Step Three

Create a loop by looping the ribbon away from your hand and collect the bottom of the loop with your non-dominant hand where ribbon has been pinched underneath. Be sure to scrunch or pinch ribbon with each loop (think of pinching it to look like an accordion). You can determine how big or small your bow is by how big your loop is. Once you determine your loop size keep it consistent through your bow.

Step Four

Now that the first loop is made, make a second loop by taking the ribbon that is underneath and creating the same size loop by pulling the ribbon towards you. Pinch the ribbon with your non-dominant hand. Be sure the the front side of ribbon (in this case the red velvet) is the side showing.

Step Five

With two loops done, repeat steps 2 and 3. You will need to decide how many loops and how full you want your bow to be. The more loops the fuller the bow. Typically 6 loops (3 per side of the bow) or 8 loops (4 per side) are most common; however, you can make it as many loops as you would like. The key is to have an even number of loops on each side.

Step Six

Once you have the amount of loops you want on your bow you can add a centre loop to fill in the centre of the bow. This will be a smaller loop (about 1/3 the size of the loops you have been using on your bow). Simply make the centre loop and pinch in your non-dominant hand.  

Step Seven

Now grab one piece of floral wire and fold over the pinched area with an equal amount of the wire on each side bent around the pinched area. The ends of the wire should be at the back of the bow. Instead of twisting the wire, I prefer to twist the bow as I find it easier than twisting the wire. Twist it about four to five times to secure the loops and bow in place. One tip is that if you know you are putting your bow on something delicate that you don’t want wire on, use a pipe cleaner to secure your bow instead of the floral wire.

Step Eight

Next, you will need to cut the other end of the tail of the bow that is connected to the ribbon bolt. I like to take the first tail and overlap it on the new tail so I know how long to cut the ribbon. Once your tail is cut you may have to twist your tail downward as one tail may not be exactly where you want it to be.  

Step Nine

Lastly, fluff and adjust your ribbon loops and bow. The beauty with wired ribbon is that you can shape it and easily fluff it so it will stay in place.

Take a minute and click below on the step-by-step video for more help. Have fun decorating!


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