Growing up, my Mother and I did almost every craft in the book. When it came to bow making I had made little hair bows and various other things with ribbon, but for some reason I never learned – or even attempted – to make a fancy Floral Bow. Anyway, a few years ago I found myself being asked to make one – on the spot – during a job interview – and after I had already made a wreath and a basket arrangement. So, obviously I had to learn pretty quickly. Luckily, another Floral Designer happened to be there helping with my interview so I asked him how he made his bows. He was awesome. He grabbed some ribbon, scissors, and a pipe cleaner and began to show me. I watched him like a hawk as his hands and fingers quickly produced a gorgeous and fluffy Floral Bow. He made it look so easy. So I tried to copy him as best I could. My bow didn’t come out as nice as his, but it wasn’t bad – I got the job!
Now that I’ve worked as a Floral Designer for over three years I’ve made hundreds, if not over a thousand bows. I love it! I get so many compliments and get a steady request to make bows all the time. I also, of course, teach bow making as well. So I’ve decided to make a tutorial for what we call “Bow school”. I hope you enjoy!
I get everything at Michael’s, because I work there and we have the coolest stuff.
I almost always use wired ribbon. If you don’t you’ll end up with a floppy bow and we like our bows nice and perky. The ribbon I used was 1.5″ wide. It came on a large roll so I was able to make more loops to make a fuller bow.
Pipe cleaner or wire
Measure out how long you want your tail to be. I make mine about 7 to 8″ long since most of my bows go on wreaths, but you can make your however long you want it. Gather and pinch the center where you measured with your thumb and pointer finger, or another finger, I don’t care.
To make your first loop, do what I call, gather – pinch – twist. I make mine about 5 or 6″ from pinch to pinch. So you’re going to gather the ribbon into a pinch behind your first pinch, twist it around so the right side is facing up before putting it together with the first gather. By twisting it you make sure the right side of your ribbon is always facing out. However, it will put any pattern on the ribbon upside down on one side.
Doing the same gather – pinch – twist, make another loop the same size as the first one, again going behind the previous pinch.
Again, doing the same gather – pinch – twist, make two more loops the same size as the first two. (I know it’s hard to see in the picture but all four loops are there if you look real hard)
Make your next loop (the fifth loop) slightly bigger then the first four you made. (and by slightly, I mean only an inch or two bigger then your first four loops. I know it wont seem big enough but trust me, when you start fluffing it out it’ll be okay) By now your hands or fingers might start hurting, or sometimes your gathers start to slip through your fingers and it’ll fall apart and you have to start all over. So if you don’t end up smashing your bow into a ball and throwing it on the floor keep going.
Continue making loops going back and forth all the same size as the fifth loop. For this bow I used a 1.5 inch wide ribbon so to make it nice and loopy I made 9 loops total on each side. You’ll see why when we start fluffing.
Your hands are probably screaming at you by now so take your pipe cleaner or wire, bend it in half and tightly twist it around the entire center you’ve been desperately trying to hold onto for who knows how long. Now you’ll have a smashed pile of loops, but at least you can relax your hands. Congrats, the hard part is over.
I go ahead and cut my tails now but you can cut them whenever you like. Sometimes I like to fold the ribbon in half and cut it at a diagonal which with create a V cut like in the picture above. Or you can cut them at a diagonal, either way looks nice.
Time to start fluffing. It’s easier to attach the bow to something first with the wire/pipe cleaner. If you’re making a wreath or similar you can go ahead and tie it on now. If not and you need a free standing bow a piece of cardboard works too. Start by taking the first four loops you made and puff them out with your fingers like in the picture.
Continue fluffing out your loops around your bow. As you can see in the picture each side has the two loops in the front with three spread out behind them and four more behind that. (Yes, I can be very symmetrical) Sometimes this takes a lot of adjusting and fluffing back and forth but hopefully eventually you’ll have a nice pretty bow.
If you have your heart set on a ribbon that doesn’t have a wired edge you can do what has worked for me and make a double ribbon bow like the ones in the picture shown. These type of bows are made the same way as above I just use two ribbons together at once and I make sure at least one of them has a wired edge. If you do it this way you will only need to make two loops the same size starting out since you’re doing two at once. I then make all the others the same size. You will come out with more loops but I find that that helps keep the bow nice and fluffy since one of the ribbons doesn’t have that wired edge support.
Once you’re comfortable making bows you can step outside the box and let your creativity run wild. I made these for a wedding with tulle, burlap, sheer satin edged ribbon, lace and strings of pearls.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my tutorial and my bows. They are one of my favorite things to make.