Sunday, December 28, 2014

Basic Bow Making

A few weeks before Christmas my sister popped over for a quick visit.  The first thing she commented on was the red bow on my door wreath.  I'm embarrassed to say that said bow is the off-the-rack mass produced variety (cringe) that you see in over-abundance on the holiday decorations aisle.  I wanted a punch of holiday red even if it was made out of the stiff, felt-like but almost plasticy material.  It had a nice color and shape (or so I'd convinced myself).  My sister asked why I used that bow instead making my own. Hmmm.  Well, truth be told - I had no earthly idea how to even begin making a big, multi-loop bow worthy to be displayed prominently on a wreath.                                              
I had a plan to to remedy my ugly bow dilemma.  I knew the perfect person to help me become a bow-making aficionado - my mother-in-law.  After so many years of knowing her, you'd think I would have taken advantage of her vast bow-making knowledge.  Once upon a time she made floral arrangements professionally and has bow-making down to an art.  So the weekend before Christmas, she gave me my first official bow-making lesson.  It's a lot easier than you might think!  There's even a link to my video tutorial at the end of the post.

The bow on the left is the one I originally had on my wreath.  Ugh - what was I thinking?  The bow on the right is the bow I made by hand.  Yeah - that's more like it!

When you look at the bows side by side, there is no argument that the handmade bow is far prettier and fuller than the store bought variety.  Wire-edged ribbon makes the bow even more beautiful and flexible when twisting into shape.  

Materials needed:
- Measuring tape 
- Scissors
- Spool of ribbon (plaid ribbon above is 1.5" wide; leopard ribbon is 2.5" wide)
- Chenille stem (pipe cleaner) or florist wire (20-22 gauge) 

Written Tutorial:

Step 1:  Determine the length of tail (24" is good length) but may need to be longer depending on your project  

Step 2:  Scrunch ribbon together then twist top of ribbon toward you.

Step 3:  After twisting ribbon toward you, fold ribbon over to form first small central loop. Scrunch together and holding tightly.  Twist ribbon so right side of ribbon is showing.  (If you don't want a central loop, you can skip this and begin making larger loops at Step 4.)

Step 4:  Holding bundle with left thumb and index finder, use right hand to measure out 12" of ribbon for first loop.  Fold over and scrunch with main bundle.  Twist so right side of ribbon is facing up.

Step 5:  Repeat Step 4 for next loop 

Although it doesn't look like it in this picture, the outer large loops are 
same size (measure 12" before you fold to form loop).  

Step 6: Continue to repeat Step 4 until you have 6-8 large loops. 

Step 7:  Holding bundle tightly with left hand, measure second tail of ribbon to 24" and cut.

Step 8:  Use a chenille stem or florist wire to tightly secure bow together.  Thread through small central loop and twist to tighten. 

Step 9: Fluff out loops and trim ends as desired.  Your bow is ready!

Video Tutorial:  Check out my 5-minute YouTube video on how to make a simple multi-loop bow.  Hopefully this helps the written tutorial make more sense.  

Stay tuned for my Happy New Year Mesh Wreath.  I layered the leopard print ribbon above with a chartreuse green peacock ribbon to make a beautiful bow.  I got both at 60% off because they were in Christmas ribbon area but they could be used for a variety of projects.  Practice really does make perfect when making bows by hand.  

A special thank you goes out to Glenda aka "Nana Banana" for teaching me the steps to making a beautiful handmade bow.

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