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How To Make a Bow

Guide to Perfect Bow-Making

How to Make a Bow from regular ribbon or wired ribbon for wreaths, baskets, weddings, gifts, and more with a short How to Make a Bow Video further down in the post. 

How-to make the perfect bow, Red Taffeta Ribbon Christmas Bow from cupcakesandcrinoline.com

When I was growing up, my Grandmother lived with us in the guest apartment above the garage.

She moved in when I was 8-years-old and lived with us until she passed away a few days after my 16th birthday.

Looking back, it was wonderful to have her with us. I have so many special memories and among them were her bow making skills.

The Perfect Bow

My sister got married when I was 9 and I was a junior bridesmaid. My dress was gorgeous with a HUGE satin ribbon tied in the back.

How to make a bow - back view of a beautiful dress with a large satin ribbon bow

The wedding day was busy, of course, and I remember my mom sending everyone over to Grandma's apartment to have our bows tied.

How to make a bow - green satin ribbon tied in a bow

Grandma's bows were always perfect whether little or big and gift wrapping, well, she took that to a whole nother level.

It's memories of the little things that I seem to recall most and that stay with me to this day and it's those things that I like to share.

I think in some regards the mentoring of people-to-people, one generation to the next, the passing down of skills, isn't what it used to be because of the Internet (good and bad) and so one of my goals is to share these little things, these nuggets here on The How-To Home.

The Secret - How to Make a Bow

My secret for making perfect bows every time is a simple DIY Bow Maker.  With a few supplies and tools, you can make what I've been using to create perfect bows for every occasion for years now.

How to Make a Bow - side view of beautiful taffeta bow on top of gift box

First things first - let's start with the bow maker board.

How To Make a Bow Maker

*Printable directions can be found at the bottom of this post

How to Make a Bow Maker Board - collage of steps used to DIY a bow maker board

*affiliate links have been added to this post for your convenience

How to Make a Bow - wood scrap used to make a bow maker board
How to make a bow maker board - wood scrap marked at 17 inches

If your wood scrap is larger than 17 inches long cut to size.

Find the center lengthwise of the wood (8.5 inches) and mark a straight line down the center, top to bottom.

Mark 1.25 inches down from the top and up from the bottom.

How to make a bow maker board - first hole being drilled in center of wood scarp
How to make a bow maker board - two drilled holes in center

Using your ⅜ inch drill bit start drilling at the marks you just made inward (the point you marked will be the outermost side of the drill hole).

How to make a bow maker board - two drilled holes in center

Drill two holes in same depth but DO NOT go all the way through the wood.

Make sure your dowels fit snugly into these holes.  If they don't, you can add some wood glue to keep them in place.

How to make a bow maker board - one inch increments marked with sharpie on each side of center
How to make a bow maker board - dowels in center of board with 1 inch increments marked and wire placed between dowels to start making a bow

Mark one inch increments from the center point outward for a total of 8 inches to the right and left of center.

How-To Make a Perfect Bow

*Printable instructions are available at the bottom of this post

How to Make Perfect Bows Every Time - it's all about the twist from cupcakesandcrinoline.com
  1. Start with a good quality ribbon.  I prefer to work with wire-edge ribbon but that isn't necessary.
  2. Cut a length of florist's wire approximately 12 inches in length and place between the dowels.
  3. Leave about an 8" tail on one side of the ribbon. Place ribbon between dowels pinching and twisting at the center point.
  4. Make a loop to the 5" mark, turn the ribbon back toward the center, pinching and twisting at the dowels.  Continue doing this 6 times total on each side.
  5. After you have 6 loops on each side make a 1 to 1.5" small loop for the center of the ribbon.
  6. Push the ribbon tightly down between the dowels, grab your wire and loop tightly around the top of the ribbon.
  7. Slide the bow out from between the dowels and secure the wire around the back of the bow.
  8. Start fluffing each loop until your bow is to your liking.
How to make a bow - large red plaid bow on top of an evergreen wreath on the grill of a vintage dodge truck

This bow is great for wreaths like the one above...

white Christmas wreath with clusters of red ornaments attached and a black, red, and white Christmas ribbon

or this White Christmas Wreath I made a few years ago.....

Christmas and Winter Repurposed Sweater Wreath with Vintage Ice Skates and Glitter

and this wreath I made from a thrift store sweater and some yard sale ice skates.

Once you get the hang of making these, you'll be making them for everything.

How to make a bow - large red ribbon on evergreen bough attached to mailbox post buried in snow

You can use longer loops or shorter loops, thicker ribbon or thinner ribbon to create the look you want.

Ribbon Buying Tips

I like to stock up on the thick wired ribbon when it's 50% off of more from the craft stores. I then use the ribbon to make bows for the Christmas tree, gift wrapping, wreaths, the dining room chair back, just about anything that isn't moving gets a big old bow on it. Wired ribbon will hold it's shape and have a firmer look but beautiful satin ribbons work well also. They are a little more relaxed and you're not going to get a big poof but wide satin ribbon has such a beautiful, vintage look to it, that sometimes, that is exactly the look you want. Make less loops and keep the length of each loop somewhat shorter. The finished bow will have a beautiful, shabby chic look and feel to it.

If You'd Rather Buy.....

If you just don't feel like making a bow maker board on your own, you can totally buy one. So many times, I see an awesome idea for a DIY on Pinterest and then get real with myself and know I'll never make it....so I search for something similar and just buy it.

This Bow Maker is very versatile with lots of different bow options but if you'd rather purchase a bowmaker than make your own, I've listed a few options for purchase below:

Ebay usually has a lot of options including the original EZ Bow Maker but if eBay isn't your thing, Amazon has some as well.

Printable How-To Make a Bow Instructions

The Definitive Guide to Perfect Bow Making

How to make a bow from regular ribbon or wired ribbon. Great for wreaths, gifts, baskets, and more. Video tutorial included.
Print How-To
Overhead view of red ribbon - how to make a bow tutorial and video
15 mins
Total Time:15 mins

Equipment

  • DIY Bow Maker OR Purchased Bow Maker 

Instructions

  • Start with a good quality ribbon.  I prefer to work with a wired-edge ribbon but that isn't necessary.
  • Cut a length of florist's wire approximately 12 inches in length and place between the dowels.
  • Leave about an 8" tail on one side of the ribbon. Place ribbon between dowels pinching and twisting at the center point.
  • Make a loop to the 5" mark, turn the ribbon back toward the center, pinching and twisting at the dowels.  Continue doing this 6 times total on each side.
  • After you have 6 loops on each side make a 1 to 1.5" small loop for the center of the ribbon.
  • Push the ribbon tightly down between the dowels, grab your wire and loop tightly around the top of the ribbon.
  • Slide the bow out from between the dowels and secure the wire around the back of the bow.
  • Start fluffing each loop until your bow is to your liking.

Video

Author: Mary Beth

Printable DIY Bowmaker Instructions

DIY Decorative Bow Maker

DIY Wooden Bowmaker Board for making bows for wreaths, church pews, Christmas Tree Toppers, and more.
Print How-To
Prep Time:5 mins
15 mins
Total Time:20 mins

Equipment

  • Drill
  • ⅜ Inch Drill Bit
  • Ruler/Square

Supplies

Instructions

  • If your wood scrap is larger than 17 inches long cut to size.
  • Find the center lengthwise of the wood (8.5 inches) and mark a straight line down the center, top to bottom.
  • Mark 1.25 inches down from the top and up from the bottom.
  • Using your ⅜ inch drill bit start drilling at the marks you just made inward (the point you marked will be the outermost side of the drill hole).
  • Drill two holes the same depth but DO NOT go all the way through the wood.
  • Make sure your dowels fit snugly into these holes.  If they don't, you can add some wood glue to keep them in place.
  • Mark one inch increments from the center point outward for a total of 8 inches to the right and left of center.
Author: Mary Beth
How to make a bow - 3 photos of large bows, two on wreaths and one on an evergreen bough tied to a mailbox for Christmas

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44 Comments

  1. Kerryanne @ Shabby Art Boutique says:

    Great post and tutorial Mary Beth. The bows are so lovely. I'm pinning this to my Handmade Christmas board... because others need to see this. Merry Christmas!!

    1. Mary Beth says:

      Thank you so much, Kerryanne! 🙂

  2. I used to have a bow maker just like that and don't have a clue where it is. Such a cool idea to make your own maker.

    1. Mary Beth says:

      That's what I based this one on, Kim. I wanted to buy one but I couldn't seem to find them anywhere so I thought, well, I'll just make one!

  3. Shirley@Housepitality Designs says:

    Wow this is fantastic.....great tool to have and the bows are beautiful!!....thanks for the tutorial!

    1. Mary Beth says:

      Thank you so much, Shirley! xo

  4. Love these bows! Pinned!

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  6. Such pretty bows! Thank you for the tutorial! ~julie

    1. Mary Beth says:

      Thank you, Julie, and I'm so glad you liked the tutorial. 🙂

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  8. Mary Beth that is so awesome!! And those are definitely some perfect bows!

    1. Mary Beth says:

      Thank you, Vanessa! 🙂 xo

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  10. Stephanie Rose says:

    Oh My! I had no idea that there was such thing as a bow maker but now I want one! Thanks for the DIY!

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  12. That is one beautiful, lush bow! Thank you Mary Beth!

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  17. Laura Trevey says:

    This is fabulous. I can't wait to try it myself - thanks for the tutorial and happy holidays!!

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  19. What a great idea! The bows are beautiful! I might have to get my dad to make me one!! hugs!

    1. Mary Beth says:

      Thank you, Susan! 🙂 xo

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  32. This is one to pin! I always struggle with making big fluffy bows. I will be referring to your post forever!

  33. Christy@Confessions of a Serial Do-it-Yourselfer says:

    I always wondered how a bow maker worked! Thanks for sharing! XO

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  35. Greeat tutorial - love those perfect bows! Happy Holidays friend!

    1. Mary Beth says:

      Thanks so much, Heather! Happy New Year to you and your family. xo, mb

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