How to Make a Bow with Ribbon

With our tips, you will finally master that intimidating bow made from ribbon. Make it yours!

Silver White and Gold Tree
Photo: Jean Allsopp

Don't let that big spool of ribbon and past Pinterest fails intimidate you. Follow our easy step-by-step guide and you'll learn how to make a bow with ribbon in no time.

What You'll Need

To start, make sure you have a few essentials on hand: scissors, chenille stems, and ribbon. If you're making large bows, plan to use two spools of ribbon per bow (more on that later). You'll also want to be sure to have a clear idea of how big or small you want your final bow. Also, keep in mind just how far that spool of ribbon will get you based on the intended size of your completed bow.

We tend to think fuller is always better—so, if you're going to battle on whether to make it big or make it full, opt for a more conservative size in order to maximize fullness. These directions should work with just about any variety of ribbon, though you'll have less trouble keeping shape if you opt for wired ribbon.

Our step-by-step bow guide is simple and results in a perky, rounded shape that attaches easily to gifts, treetops, garlands, wreaths, and more. Use longer or shorter pieces of ribbon to adjust the size of the bow. It's easiest to form the first loop before cutting the ribbon from the spool. The size and thickness of your loop will determine the size of your bow.

Perfect Bow Step 1
Illustration by Steve Sanford

Step 1: Create Bow Loops

Start with a spool of ribbon of your choice. Remove the ribbon from the spool, then start looping the ribbon around to create a circle. The size of the circle with roughly be the size of your finished bow. The more times you're able to loop the ribbon around, the fuller your bow will end up, so opt for at least three full circles. Just remember: More is always better (not to mention easier to work with).

Perfect Bow Step 2
Illustration by Steve Sanford

Cinch the loop in the middle with a length of twine or a chenille stem.

Step 2: Fasten the Bow

Once you're satisfied with your loops—or have reached the end of your ribbon—pinch the center so each side is a loop of equal size. Use a chenille stem to fasten. What you should have at this point is a flat figure-8 type bow. Don't be discouraged, it will start to come to life in Step 3.

Perfect Bow Step 3
Illustration by Steve Sanford

Begin to pull individual bow loops out from the center, alternating pulls from each end.

Step 3: Fluff the Bow

To fluff the bow, pull one loop out from the center of the bow. Wire ribbon will allow you to mold the loop to create a rounded shape. Next, pull a loop out from the other side of the bow and, once again, mold the loop to create a rounded shape. Repeat this process, alternating sides with each pull, until all the loops have been pulled out and fluffed. At this point, you should have a nice shape—all that's missing are the tails.

Perfect Bow Step 4
Illustration by Steve Sanford

Once all the loops are formed, tie a long piece of ribbon around the center to make the tails of the bow.

Step 4: Add the Bow Tails

This is where your second spool of ribbon comes in. Tie a long trail of ribbon around the center of the bow, being sure to cover the chenille stems from view. If you'll be fixing the bow to a tree, wreath, etc., you can opt to leave out the ends of the chenille stems to help attach the bow. Let the tails trail down to the desired length. To finish, snip each ribbon end at a diagonal. Whatever you do, don't leave those blunt ends—you've come too far.

How to Make a Bow with Thick Ribbon

If you're making a bow out of ribbon that is particularly thick, be sure to adjust the size of your loops accordingly. If you make them too tight, you'll have a hard time getting your bow to look like anything other than a round puff. Don't be afraid to start over if you realize you need to make your bow larger or smaller. The beauty of our process is that nothing is cut until the very end, once you've inspected your bow from all sides and are pleased with the size and shape.

How to Make a Bow with Wired Ribbon

As we mentioned at the start of this tutorial, it's best to make a bow with wired ribbon as it helps the final product hold shape much better than other varieties. Satin ribbon is particularly difficult to work with when creating anything other than a petite, flat bow. If you just returned home from the store and realized you inadvertently picked up a spool of wired ribbon, consider it a happy mistake. You're on your way to creating our 4-step bow with ease.

How to Make a Big Bow Out of Ribbon

For a Christmas Tree:

If you're looking for a giant bow to place atop your Christmas spruce, you'll just want to double the process above to create a fuller effect. It's as simple as creating one more bow following the same exact steps (1 through 4) listed above. When your bows are complete, attach one in front and the other behind the top stem of the tree. Now you've created a Christmas tree topper that dazzles from every angle.

For a (Really Big) Gift:

The trick to making your bow bigger is to simply buy a longer spool in order to create bigger loops. To ensure you don't lose any of the fullness that a smaller bow would produce, you should try to find a thicker ribbon as well and even create more loops than you would with a more petite version, so it still fills out nicely. Again, wire ribbon is the best route, particularly if you want to take your bow making skills to new heights. Oh, and if you're hoping to make a bow big enough to fit that new car you're getting her for Christmas, you should probably just go ahead and pick that up on Amazon. This one is Prime eligible and will only set you back around $20—far less than all that ribbon (and patience) a homemade version would likely require.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles