Beautiful Festive Bows

It’s that time of year when I’ve been fetching out all of the Christmas decorations that we’ve accumulated over the years. There’s nothing nicer than opening the box and finding all the old baubles and handmade tree ornaments that we treasure. They don’t mean anything to another family, but like in every household, we have our own worthless but priceless heirlooms.

Each year I add to the box of decorations and so this week I’ve made garlands of foliage to decorate our family room. They really needed a colourful accent and bows are just the thing. I’ve been making them from ribbon and a single one also looks great tied around a boring plant pot like I’ve done on this poinsettia. (Cross your fingers for this plant by the way, if it lasts till Twelfth Night I’ll be astounded!).

The bows are easy to make, let me show you how…

For each bow you will need:

  • 2″ wide ribbon (in the photos I’m using a red satin ribbon)
  • 1″ wide ribbon (in my example that’s the white and gold ribbon)
  • Fabric tape (I’m using some green woven tape I had in my stash, you could also use ribbon)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine and thread
  • Glue gun (optional, you can use fabric glue or hand sew)

Begin by cutting the ribbons to length. To make a bow just like mine you’ll need:

From the wider (red) ribbon:

  • 2 pieces 18″ long
  • 1 piece 30-40″ long (the longer this piece is, the long the tails of your bow will be.)

From the narrower (white) ribbon:

  • 2 pieces 16″ long
  • 1 piece of 28-38″ long (make this piece about 2″ shorter than the long red piece)

From the tape (or ribbon)

  • 1 piece long enough to tie around whatever you want to decorate.

Take the shorter pieces of ribbon (2 red and 2 white), and fold them in half. Finger press the fold. If your ribbon won’t hold a crease, you can mark it with some chalk or a pencil.

Using that centre fold as a guide, fold each end of the ribbon to the centre, just overlapping the centre point so that at that crease-line, you have three layers of ribbon.

Sew through all the layers as shown in the photo. I’m using a black thread so you can see it easily, but your thread colour doesn’t matter, you won’t see it at the end.

Repeat this for all of the short ribbons.

Place the narrow ribbon on top of the wider one and stitch again through all the layers on that same central crease to attach the two together as shown in the photo.

Pinch the ribbon stack in the middle like I’m doing in the photo. The centre of the pinch should be up, then bring up the edges to meet it. Hard to explain, but you’ll get it! Imagine if you were looking at a cross section of that pinch, it would be a ‘W’.

Pop it under the foot of your machine and sew through the pinch point to secure it. This is obviously a little bulky so just sew slowly. If you are using a wire-edged ribbon be extra careful.

Repeat the process for the other pair of ribbons and you’ll end up with two bow sections like these.

Now take the long pieces of ribbon fold them each in half and finger press or mark the centre crease. Place the narrow one on top of the wide one and stitch them together through the creased mark.

Now measure 8″ from that stitched line and stitch another line through both ribbons to secure them together. Do that on both sides of centre so you have three anchor points.

Next up, repeat the pinch point at each of the lines you’ve stitched and sew through them to secure.

It should look a bit like mine in the photo.

Bring one of the side pinch points that you’ve sewn to meet the centre one. Don’t worry about making the loop of ribbon look pretty at this stage, just make sure it’s not twisted.

Holding those pinch points together, sew through them to anchor them as one. Again, this is a little bit bulky so sew carefully and slowly.

Repeat that step with the other side, bringing the outer pinch point to the centre pushing it up close to the first, then sewing through the two layers.

It should look like this.

That’s the component parts of the bow created.

Now it’s time to assemble it. Heat up that glue gun!

Pop some hot glue on the centre of the bow and attach one of the separate bow loop sections to it. If you haven’t got a glue gun, or prefer not to use glue at all, you can sew the sections together by hand with some simple oversewn stitches. Don’t worry if it’s messy, we’ll be covering it up in a moment.

I don’t suppose it matters, but I always glue the top bow loop on first. Hold them for a few seconds until the glue has set.

Separate the two pairs of bow tails to get to the centre point on the other side and pop on another blob of hot glue to attach the other bow loop.

Just as before hold them all together until that glue has gone off. Can you see how each of the sections have come together neatly side by side in the centre? At the moment the bow tails are in the middle, but don’t worry, we’re going to arrange them neatly in a sec.

Flip your bow over and pop some glue in the centre back. Attach a short strip of scrap ribbon. This can be either the narrow one or the wide. I opted to use the wider red ribbon.

Wrap that strip over the centre of the bow, forming it into some attractive folds, especially if you’ve used the wider ribbon.

Glue the other end at the centre back point and snipe off any excess ribbon.

Take the piece of tape, or ribbon, centre it and glue it to the back of the bow.

Flip your bow back over and arrange the loops nicely. Bring the bow tails so they hang from the bottom. Neaten up the bow tail ends by nipping them at a diagonal. This will stop them fraying like crazy.

And your beautiful bow is done!

I cut the tape for mine quite long so I could tie it around the bannisters. I love how the ribbons look with the foliage swags.

Compare how the bows look with longer tails – if you prefer the drama of the longer tails just cut that longer piece of ribbon nearer the 40″ measurement.

If you want to make extra large bows then I’d definitely recommend using the ribbon that has wire in the edges, that will give your bows much more structure. I found with the satin ribbon, if you go much larger than the measurements I’ve suggested, the bow loops are a bit droopy, and no-one wants a droopy bow!

Mini versions would look gorgeous tied to the tree as ornaments or for jazzing up your present wrapping. Maybe you could experiment with other types of ribbon, perhaps hessian could give a lovely rustic country feel, or if you’re stash busting, perhaps try using some torn strips of fabric rather than ribbon!

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!


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