How to Make a Ribbon Bow for Wreaths, Gifts & More (Step-by-Step)
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Do you have a Christmas wreath that you want to adorn with a ribbon bow? Or are you planning to wrap a gift and would like to make a festive bow to put on it? Maybe you would like to add a bow to accent your home decor or make a hair bow to coordinate with your outfits.
If you want to find out how to make a ribbon bow for any of these scenarios, you will find that this post includes 3 – easy step-by-step instruction bow tutorials showing how to make and style DIY ribbon bows 3 easy ways. One way to make a DIY bow includes a video tutorial so you will be a master bow maker in no time.
No bow making gadgets needed or DIY skills – just ribbon or string, strips of cut fabric, sharp scissors and floral wire.
After seeing how to make each of the bows shown in this post, you can then better decide what style of bow will look best for your needs or event like weddings and bridal showers.
This multi-loop wide satin buffalo check ribbon makes a very merry Christmas bow tree topper. It can be attached to a tree using wire or a zip tie.
A wired ribbon bow on a wreath hung with matching ribbon.
How to Make a Bow: The Ultimate Guide to Making 3 Different Styles of Ribbon Bows
There are many ways to make bows. I have found that these 3 bows are the fastest to make and the most popular. There are instructions for each technique. Plus, all are in a classic that look good no matter where you use them.
First let me answer a few questions about making perfect ribbon bows.
What Type of Ribbon Makes the Best Bows?
When making a bow, you can use many different types of ribbon to make a bow. From velvet to grosgrain ribbon or your favorite ribbon. Thick or thin ribbon, it doesn’t matter as a bow is made the same way no matter the size or material the ribbon is made out of.
Using wired ribbon does make fuller bows that keep their shape that look great on a Christmas present or an elegant evergreen wreath. Traditional satin and velvet ribbon are best to use when you prefer a bow where the loops fall softly to each side.
If you can’t find ribbon you like, tulle makes very festive bows and can be purchased very inexpensively at the craft store. Crepe paper, twisted paper ribbon, burlap ribbon and even cut strips from fabric yardage can be made into bows.
How Many Yards of Ribbon Are Needed to Make a Bow?
Most ribbon is sold by the spool that has a few yards on it. Specialty ribbon is sold by the yard.
- Wreath: To make a bow for a standard size door wreath you will need about 54″ of ribbon. If you want to make one with 6 multi-loops, double these measurements.
Bow #1: How to Make a Classic 2-Loop Bow With Wired Ribbon
Follow these step by step instructions on how to make a basic 2-loop bow using the “M” method.
I call this bow the “Easy M”. It is a simple bow and my “go-to” bow. It works with any kind of ribbon, but best with wired ribbon.
Follow these easy steps to make one.
1. Make a loose “M” shape with ribbon.
2. Cinch each side to start to form loops.
3. Hold each side with your hands where you cinched ribbon.
4. Cross loops and put one through the opening under the crossed loops – just like the way you tie a shoelace.
5. Once one loop is through the opening, pull both loops to tighten knot in center. It will look like this.
This is the step where most people not used to making bows think they have failed Bow Making 101 and give up. Don’t ! You just need to primp a little now.
6. Lay bow right side up on a flat surface. Hold tails and pull one loop at a time to make them even. Place your fingers in the inside of a loop to add fullness.
The wire in the ribbon will help you shape each loop.
7. Pull the loops at the same time to tighten knot. Twist loops if needed to get them straight and even with each other.
8. This is the most important step. Put your index fingers under knot to pull and straighten the knot.
Pull the edge of ribbon to each side of knot.
9. After you primp, the bow should look like this. A dimple should be in each loop near the center knot.
How to Attach Wire to Hang Bow
1. Turn bow face down. Thread one end of a 12-inch long piece of wire or a pipe cleaner under and through the back of the knot.
2. Center wire and twist wire against knot to secure.
How to Trim the Ribbon Tail Ends
For the finishing touch, when cutting the ends of the ribbon, I like to nock or notch the ends of the tails into an inverted “V” shape. A simple angle cut looks nice also.
1. Fold end of tail in half lengthwise and cut on an angle from the outer edge to the folded edge of the ribbon with the sharpest scissors you have.
2. Unfold the ends and flatten with your fingers to smooth.
TIP: To make the wire edge of ribbon smooth, run the wired edge through your thumb and index finger to smooth and get kinks out.
Variation: Add Multiple Tails to Add Fullness to Bow
1. Determine the desired length of the new piece of ribbon, double that measurement, then cut.
2. Find center of cut ribbon and place it over the wire on back of bow. Twist wire to secure. Cut tails.
When Using a Ribbon Bow For Gift Wrapping
Tie a gift tag around the back of the bow and let it hang from the center of the bow.
To add some bling to your wired ribbon bow, pin a brooch style pin on the knot as I did in an a photo above in this post.
Bow #2: How to Make a Multi Loop Ribbon Bow
This six-looped ribbon bow is made using only one length of ribbon that includes the center loop that looks like a covered button. This center is only a small loop you make in the ribbon as you make the bow.
This style of bow that some call a florist’s bow or a multi-loop bow, I call a Macy’s bow. It looks best when you make it with stiff or wired ribbon.
I like this bow best when holiday decorating. It looks festive when made with plaid ribbon and placed on a front door.
I learned to make this wired ribbon bow when I worked as a visual merchandiser at Macy’s. I made hundreds!!!
It was the only bow we were allowed to make for the store to place on stacks of display gift boxes, garlands and trees.
Instead of a step-by-step photo tutorial to show you how to make this bow, I made a video. Watching the bow actually being made will make it easy for you to see how to make one or more for your decor or gifts.
It starts with one end of a long piece of ribbon or making the bow while the ribbon is still on the spool and not cutting it off until the bow is made. This way you will know you can make the bow with as many loops as you want.
Bow #3: How To Make a Ribbon Bow With a Stapler
A stapled bow? Yes, they are easy to make, especially when you want a larger bow. It is one of the bow making tricks I learned as a retail display designer.
The stiffer the ribbon you use to make a bow this way, the more poufy the bow will be.
For this bow, I used satin ribbon so the loops softly fall to the sides of the bow.
I looped ribbon around a cardboard snowflake that I had previously used as place mats for my holiday table setting.
To attach the snowflake to the bow, I wired it to the back of the knot on the bow. I used a dot of hot glue on the back of the bow to attach it to the mirror. You could also attach with a Command Brand Picture Hanging Strip.
For my bow: I cut the loop –24” tail – 30” knot – 6”
1. Fold loop section in half.
2. Fold over again as shown and staple in the center to create the loops for the bow.
3. It should look like this. Set aside.
4. Find the center of the tail section, fold over, pinch together and staple.
5. Making sure right sides of ribbon are facing front. Match up the staples on the tail and loop sections and staple them together.
It will look like this.
6. Lay the knot section underneath and fold one edge over.
7. Tuck the raw edge under the folded edge, overlap to fit snugly and staple twice. If you have one of those little staplers – you can slide the stapler right in between the knot section and the loop and tail section so the staple will lay flat.
I rummaged through all my junk drawers and could not find one, so I had to staple on the outer edge of the ribbon because the bottom section of the stapler would not wedge under the ribbon.
It works, but the ribbon edges are raised up when they should be overlapping and then stapled.
Fluff the loops with your fingers. All done! This ribbon is 2-1/2 inches wide and the knot comes out a bit too wide for my liking. I use a variation to attach the knot section – next photo.
When using wide ribbon, you can fold it in half before tying onto the loops or you can tie the ribbon around the loop and tail sections so the knot gets more “scrunched”.
I used a 7” piece of ribbon and tied it around the center of the loop and tail section, then made a double knot.
Trim the excess and hot glue each end down on the back of the knot so they stay flat.
A “scrunchier” – knot.
8. Cut the tails. I prefer a simple angle cut.
How to Attach or Hang Bow
One glue dot or dab of hot glue on a sealed or slick non-porous surface will come right off without damaging the surface.
Or hang the bow with wire. Thread a piece of florist wire through the back of the knot, wrap around and twist to secure. Use the ends of the wire to tie your bow on to any object.
The Easiest Bow To Make
The easiest bow to add to a wrapped gift is simply taking a long length of ribbon that will go around the gift box once or twice and then bringing it up to the top and tying the ends of the ribbon like you would your shoelaces.
Once the bow is tied, primp the loops with your fingers until they look nice. Cut the ribbon ends into notches.
The Best Places to Buy Ribbon to Make Pretty Bows
The best resources and places to find beautiful ribbon inexpensively is at HomeGoods, Marshalls, TJ Maxx.
Online, both Amazon and Etsy sellers have a wide variety of ribbons. In the site’s search bars, type in what color, type and width ribbon you want. Along with the words, “by the yard” or “rolls of ribbon”.
Other places to find pretty ribbon are Hobby Lobby, Michaels and JoAnn Fabrics.
Now that you know how to make 3 different types of ribbon bows, which one would you like to make? Use your creativity to come up with unique ways to make the bow perfect for your needs by using two different ribbons in one bow, adding embellishments like buttons and decorative pins to the center.
More Decorating With Ribbon Projects and Ideas
Now that you’re up-to-speed on ribbon projects, how about checking out my other holiday decorating projects?
Thank you so much for this Wonderful instruction on tying ribbon bows! Many are not in such detail and confusing. Your instructions are clear!
The only reason I opened this was for step by step guide without a video. And the only bow anyone would need help making, you posted a video.
Thanks Barbara – I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.
Great video Diane! I have at least 6 bows to make this CHristmas and this will help them look more professional.
Thanks Mary – My video making skills are not the greatest so this was nice to hear. :-)
Thanks so much for this post.
I have failed bow-making 101 in the past but with your expert tutorial I think I might pass this year. I’m glad to be reading your holiday posts – they make me feel enthusiastic about my holiday preparations. Thanks for so many great ideas!
Hi Linda – Once you make one bow and play around with fluffing it, you will get the hang of it in no time. For Christmas decor – I will start sharing more Christmas now, so stay tuned. :-) Coming this week is my home tour.
All the fun ribbon and bows! Thanks for the tutorials 🎀
No I am not.
Would love to get the Friday ideas going down to Christmas.
Hi Jackie – Are you asking about my plant-based posts?
Really enjoyed this tutorial. I don’t remember this technique for adding the additional tails. I will definitely try it!
Hi Tammy – That is what makes DIYing so much fun – you can add as many tails or embellishments to your bows as you like or think your project needs. :-)
Perfectly timed ribbon tutorial, thank you once again for sharing. Merry Christmas to all.
This is great and so easy to make. Thanks Diane.
I am one of those that would have given up before primping! Once again, great tutorial! Thank you!
Nice! Do you know how to make a bow from tulle? They’re pom-pom looking. I love your blog and it is one of the few that I take time to read in my email. You are so very talented and have a gift for teaching.
Hi Vikki – I just saw your question. Did you find out how to make the tulle pom-pom bow? They are very easy to make. You can make them they same way you make tissue paper flowers. I have a post showing how to do this, just use tulle instead of tissue paper: https://inmyownstyle.com/how-to-make-a-tissue-paper-flower-valentine-gift-box.html
I love that herringbone pattern ribbon! Where did you find such a thing?
Hi Michael – I forgot to put where I bought the ribbon.I will add it. I got it at TJMaxx about 2 weeks ago.
LOVELY, and oh so cute tags too!!
Thanks Laura – I found the tags at TJMaxx. They came in a box with e other sayings – merry, joy, and peace. The box was only a few dollars.
Hi Diane, Great tutorial. It helped me figure out a mistake I’d been making. Thanks for sharing your expertise and creativity with us! Merry Christmas!
Love it! Great tutorial, Thanks, Diane
Nice tutorial Diane, I’ve made many bows too in my career, and I like this way for the loops and knot come out so nicely with fluffing.