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Bow How-Tos

Bows are always in style, particularly during the holidays. Use these four festive bows for everything from gift toppers to holiday trimmings.


When choosing a ribbon, consider how you want the bow to look. Stiff or wired ribbon creates bows with perky loops that hold their shape; soft fabrics are great for bows that lie flat or bend gracefully. The steps below are easy, but it’s a good idea to practice first with scrap ribbon. Don’t expect the bows to look perfect when tied; you’ll need to adjust and shape them.


  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • String
  • Fabric glue
  • 20-gauge wire


  1. Step 1


    Start with a 24-inch length of wide ribbon. (For a different size, make bow on the ribbon spool before cutting.) Create two loops, one on each side of the ribbon. Cross right loop over left.

  2. Step 2


    Knot by passing right loop behind left, under, and up through (make sure ribbon is not twisted or bunched).

  3. Step 3


    Pull loops to create a small, smooth knot. Adjust loops, opening them up with your fingers; cut notches in tails.

  4. Step 4


    We started with a 45-inch length of narrow ribbon. Hold four fingers on one hand together, and wrap with ribbon, making certain it lies flat. The fullness of the bow will depend on how many times you wrap it around (we wrapped ours ten times; for larger bows, wrap ribbon around your whole hand). Slide the ribbon off your fingers, and pinch it together at the center. Cut a notch through all layers on each side. Tie a piece of string around the center of the ribbon, slipping it into the notches; pull string taut, and knot.

  5. Step 5


    To form the rosette, spread loops outward, and twist, shaping them into a fluffy ball.

  6. Step 6


    Start with two 38-inch lengths of wire taffeta. Make loops: Form a loop at one end of ribbon; glue in place.

  7. Step 7


    Wind the rest of the ribbon back and forth, forming a figure eight with each layer and making each a little larger than the one before it, until you've created three stacked figure eights. Glue figure eights together at the points where the ribbon crosses. Let dry.

  8. Step 8


    Knot the second length of ribbon around the loops at the center; rotate the knot so the smooth side is at the front. Slide 20-gauge wire through knot at back for hanging; trim ends.

  9. Step 9


    Make loops: Bend an 8-inch-long ribbon into a circle, attaching ends with fabric glue. Repeat to create two or three more circles, each ribbon 2 inches longer than the one before it. Pinch each ribbon together at center; put a tiny dab of glue there to secure. To create the topmost loop, wrap a piece of ribbon around your thumb, and glue ends together; if you would like to add tails, notch a length of ribbon at both ends. Stack loops, smallest to largest with tail underneath.

  10. Step 10

    To connect loops and tail, wrap them with a short piece of ribbon: Slip it through the topmost loop and wrap around all of the layers; glue its ends together at bottom of bow. Let dry.

Reviews (7)

  • modmazel 26 Dec, 2011

    It's very nice to do this work specially for kids.

  • geoferr 8 Dec, 2011

    Chellewarren gives the essential instruction missing from Martha's directions--pulling the first loop from the right and the next from the left, twisting, and then repeating. Do all the loops on one end of the bow, then all the loops on the other. Modulate how hard you pull and twist, so that you don't make one end of the bow longer than the other.

  • chellewarren 12 Dec, 2010

    ....keep the pieces together while you work out the ribbon. From this point you pull the outside loop to the right side, twisting the ribbon about 90 degrees or more away from you. Do this on each side. The next loop you'll do the same thing but pull it to the left. Keep doing this until you've pulled and twisted all the loops of the ribbon. Adjust the final bow as needed.

  • chellewarren 12 Dec, 2010

    Actually the Rosette bow is wrapped around a hand. Once all the ribbon is wrapped, you tape it to itself (on what will be the bottom). Determine the middle of the ribbon, then cut out a ' V ' notch on each side at the middle, leaving enough ribbon to hold it all together ( Don't cut V's to touch but close facing each other - like this > < ). Then take a piece of string, twine, embroidery thread, sewing thread, whatever you have, and tie it tightly in the middle V. This will keep the pieces

  • Smoothis 15 Feb, 2009

    For the rosette bow, it doesn't say to fold the ribbon back and forth - it says to wrap it around your hand. Judging by the picture, however, it looks like the ribbon should be folded back and forth. I tried to make it yesterday with the instructions given, and it was terrible. I managed to turn it into something else though. Also, the instructions say 45 inches is 10 wraps around? They must be children.

  • momtotwins 10 Dec, 2008

    You just fold the ribbon back and forth as shown. They you tie across the middle and you capture all the loops.

  • LISERIC 30 Apr, 2008

    I need more detailed instructions for the rosette bow, from start to finish. How is the bow anchored ?