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How to Make Hair Bows!

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Hello there!  My name is Bethany and I share stories about my family over at www.thevittfamily.blogspot.com.  My main purpose for having this family blog is for managing our memories and having a place to put the stories alongside the many photos we take.  Along the way our blog has also become a place for me to connect with other families by sharing ideas that work well in our home.  And right now, after many requests, I am starting “Tutorial Tuesday” on our blog to share how-to steps for bows & hair accessories along with many other crafts that I enjoy doing!  I would like to thank Natalie for having me guest post here on her blog today with my very first tutorial 🙂

It is no secret that ever since my oldest daughter Jaden turned a year old, I have LOVED putting bows in her hair.  Had I known about the cute headbands available now at craft stores to clip bows onto, Jaden would’ve been wearing big hand-made bows from the day she was born!

My two younger daughters Sienna and Bristol have worn bows much sooner than Jaden did and I’ve spent the last 5 years making them myself.  My stepmom showed me her technique for making them and I’ve enjoyed every minute of crafting bows in every color of the rainbow as well as customized ones to match specific outfits.

This summer many of my friends were expecting their first babies and I was THRILLED when a few of them found out they had baby girls on the way.  I set to work on making each of these baby girls their own collection of bows in a variety of colors.  Then I gave each of them a headband to clip the bows onto until they are older and have enough hair to clip the bow right into.

Which leads me to today. Quite a few people have asked me to share my bow-making techniques and I’m honored that Natalie is helping me to get the word out on how to make the perfect bow for your little girls’ hair!  So without any further chit-chat, here are my step-by-step instructions for how to make one of B’s (that’s me!) Bows:

1.  Gather your supplies.  You will need a marker (not shown–sorry) ruler, your sharpest scissors, a glue gun, your preferred clip to put the bow onto, thread, needle, fray-check (available at Jo-Ann fabrics, Hobby Lobby, etc) and your ribbon.  I suggest using grosgrain (not satin!) ribbon 1.5 inches wide for the bow’s loops and either 3/8″ or 5/8″ wide ribbon for your knot in the center.

In this tutorial I am making 5″ loops on my bow, perfect for infants and toddlers.  For 3-6 year olds I would make 6″ or 7″ loops based on the width of my ribbon (7″ if I were using ribbon wider than 1.5 inches).  The reason I mention this is because when you go to buy ribbon to make your bow, you need 6 times the loop size.  So for a bow with 5″ loops you need 30 inches of 1.5 inch ribbon.  For a bow with 6″ loops you need 36 inches of 1.5 inch ribbon.  Follow me?

2.  Thread your needle.  Some notes about the needle you should choose.  Make sure it has the SMALLEST eye possible so that as you’re sewing your bow the knot at the end of your thread doesn’t go all the way through your grosgrain ribbon.  I like to use a needle a little over an inch long for this project.  Side note:  I’m using blue thread so that you can see my stitches, but normally I would use thread that is the same color (or as similar as possible) as the ribbon I’m sewing.

When threading the needle, you’ll want to double your thread since we want these to be durable.  They’re going to be worn by young children and babies, right?  Well if you want your effort to be worthwhile you don’t want them to break their bow!

Knot the end of your thread three times (grosgrain has a loose weave and we don’t want that knot to pull through the ribbon!).

3.  Set aside your needle and thread and get out your 1.5″ ribbon, ruler and marker to measure your ribbon.  I use a sharpie on my ribbon or white chalk on dark ribbon; you won’t see the marks you’re about to make on the finished product as long s you make them small.  So don’t worry here about the color or type of marker you’re using.

4.  Measure and mark your ribbon.  Remember when I said we’re making 5″ loops today?  Well since that is our size of loop, mark a dot every 5 inches on your 1.5″ ribbon so that you have 6 sections that are each 5″.  If you were making 6″ loops, you would mark a dot every 6 inches so that you have 6 sections that are each 6″.

 

 

So now I have 30″ of ribbon with dots marked every 5″.  I prefer not to cut my ribbon until I’ve measured and marked so that I don’t cut it too short or too long–either one would lead to waste and we wouldn’t want that!

5.  Now get ready to sew.  Holding your ribbon with your left hand, put your needle through your ribbon on the first dot you marked.  You should have 5 inches above where you are inserting your needle and 25 inches of ribbon hanging below.

6.  Sew large stitches straight across the ribbon.  I always have 3-4 stitches on 1.5″ ribbon.  You don’t want them any smaller than that.

 

 7.  Now loop the long end of your ribbon up to align where your next dot is with the stitches you just made.

8.  Sew large stitches across that part of your ribbon now so that you have made a loop with your ribbon (bottom) and you have 20 inches of remaining ribbon (“top”–above my left hand, but it’s falling over and actually lying on the table).

 

9.  Now I like to shift hands.  I put my completed loop in my left hand with loop side up and create my next loop by aligning the next dot on my ribbon with the line I’m sewing.  Then sew large stitches across:

 

10.  I shift again (completed side goes into my right hand, create new loop w/ left hand by aligning the next dot on my ribbon w/ the line I’m sewing) and sew across to create third loop:

 

11.  Now do the same process again to create your fourth loop.

 

12.  You now should have a straight line sewn with two loops and one “tail” (end of ribbon) on bottom and two loops and one tail on top.  Now it is time to scrunch down the ribbon to create the bow.  As you scrunch the ribbon down, make sure to keep the loops and tail on their proper sides so that you don’t end up with a bow having two tails on one side, etc.

 

 

13.  Take your thread (with needle still attached) and wrap it around the center of your bow three times.

14.  Now stick your needle right through the center of your bow for added security.  No baby or toddler will be able to pull this ribbon apart!

You now have a secure bow, with needle and thread still attached, that you can set aside:

16.  Pick up your 5/8″ or 3/8″ ribbon and tie a loose knot.  I suggest tying the knot before cutting a piece of ribbon so that you cut enough ribbon off, but not too much, after the knot is made.

If your knot is tight like this one, start over and try to make it more loose:

Ah, just right, so you can cut the ribbon leaving about 1 1/2 inches allowance on each side of the knot itself:

17.  This knot is going to be the center of your bow.  Place it on the front of your bow:

and get ready to sew the two ends together on the backside with the needle and thread that are still attached to your bow:

18.  Fold the edges under so that as you’re sewing the knot on you are hiding any unfinished ribbon edges, but do not fold it so tight that you cannot fit your barrette / clip underneath it:

 

19.  Now begin sewing a loop stitch securing the ends of the knot ribbon together:

 

 

For added security, I sew mine from right to left, then back again.  I probably don’t need to remind you again that we are putting these on the heads of young girls, right?  ha!

20.  Once sewn securely, knot your ends and clip your thread.  Don’t forget to put your needle somewhere so that the child wearing these bows can’t get to it 🙂

 

 

21.  Get your barrette / clip to put into the bow now.  I use an alligator clip (top) for my baby bows so that they can be easily clipped onto a headband.  For those ones, I actually hot glue them onto the bow.

I use a barrette (bottom) for bows that are going straight into hair.  I prefer not to hot glue them because they break easily (regardless of brand / quality you buy–it’s just the nature of this flimsy metal) and I have replaced some of ours without having to make a whole new bow several times.  The barrette style has a piece that keeps it in place…see below.

22 (barrette):  Open barrette.

23 (barrette):  Take out center piece:

24 (barrette):  Slide clip underneath knot ribbon (carefully so that you don’t break any threads):

25 (barrette):  Replace center piece:

And you’re done with the clip part!

22 (alligator clip):  Take clip, turn upside down:

(top has the angled part on right, bottom is straight across)

23 (alligator clip):  Clip onto back of knot ribbon over where you’ve sewn the ribbon together:

 

24 (alligator clip):  Stick glue gun underneath clip & ribbon and squirt glue in there:

25 (alligator clip):  Now pinch together to secure the clip into place:

So now regardless of your preferred clip style, you should have a bow that looks like this on the front, and that has a clip in place on the back:

26.  Clip tails.  Using sharp scissors, always cut from smaller side of tail towards longer side:

I like the look of this angled tail style for my completed bow, but there are others out there such as double tails, etc.

 

 

27.  Fray check the ends of your clipped tails so that ribbon does not unravel:

 

FINAL STEP:  Place it on / in the hair of your favorite little girl!

Now, before you’re afraid of this tutorial…let me tell you that when I first started making bows it would take me 45 minutes to create ONE of these.  Now I’m able to do 6 of this style in that time.  With time, patience and practice you will become better and faster.  Don’t let the sewing scare you off–this bow will lay better than any made by another method and will hold up over time.  The very first bows I ever made are still being worn today by my girls and you’d never know they were 5 years old unless you saw my past sewing on the back which was not nearly as even as it is today!  Always remember that nobody will see the back of your bows when they’re in your little girl’s hair so don’t worry about perfect sewing.

Have any questions?  I’m happy to answer or clarify anything that I need to–just email me at bethany.vitt {at} gmail {dot} com.

Enjoy your bow making 🙂  Send me photos of your creations, and tune into www.thevittfamily.blogspot.com for future tutorials including more bows, hair accessories, places to keep and organize those accessories and MUCH more!!

Ummm, wow, Bethany!! You have much more patience
than I do!!  Thanks so much for posting and sharing the fantastic bows with us!!  Girls everywhere are thanking you!

Mayra

Thursday 1st of December 2016

Hi,

Thanks for sharing your bow making technique. I have a question I have an eight month old granddaughter with super straight spiky hair it is impossible to attach bows unless they are attached to a headband, can you share where you get those so that I can get some for my granddaughter.

Shay

Tuesday 12th of August 2014

Love this touturial! Wish there was more detailed like this!!

Elizabeth Higham

Wednesday 22nd of May 2013

Thank you so very much, that was just the most brilliant way to make these bows - cant wait to start and off to buy ribbon. Many thanks again

Laura

Wednesday 17th of April 2013

Awesome tutorial! I made my first hair bow thanks to you!

Anonymous

Sunday 29th of April 2012

try instead of cutting of the 5 inch non-loop, and making a loop and hot glueing it to the closest loop near it.~14 year old girl