As a lifelong Southerner, I subscribe wholeheartedly to the philosophy of dressing children traditionally. And, as the mom of a little girl, that includes a giant grosgrain hairbow to match each and every outfit. For the first year of my daughter’s life, she didn’t have enough hair for a bow but, as soon as she had enough strands to put in an alligator clip, it was bow-time! After about 6 months of buying bows, I thought “hey, I bet I could do this…” and thus began my journey into bow-making. The first thing I learned was it’s a lot harder than it looks (but, like everything, gets easier with practice). The second thing I learned was that most of the tutorials online are for more medium sized bows, not the giant bows that are popular in the South. Today, I’d like to share my big boutique bow tutorial, to make a large, 6 inch wide bow.
42 inches of 2.25 inch wide grosgrain ribbon (purchased online)
5 inches of ¾ inch wide grosgrain ribbon
1 alligator clip
Needle and thread
Hot glue gun
Water soluble marker (optional)
Large hair clip (available at Sally Beauty Supply)
Measure and cut your ribbon. Cut the ends on a diagonal. They’ll be heat sealed at the very end, but, cutting them on a diagonal also helps prevent fraying.
Measure 5 inches from the bottom of one end of your ribbon and make a mark. If you don’t have a water soluble pen, you can fold the ribbon to make crease that will be your guide to keep the loops even.
From the 5 inch mark, measure a section of 8 inches, and make a mark or a fold. Do this 2 more times, so you’ll have 3 sections of 8 inches, and 1 more section at the end that’s 5 inches long. The 5 inch sections are your tails, the 8 inch sections are your loops. You can mark them A, B, C, D, and E. I’ve marked my ribbon for the tutorial but it may be hard to see. When I make bows, I usually just crease my ribbon, but, for the first few times, it’s helpful to have the marks.
Making the loops
Holding the ribbon in your left hand (assuming you are right handed), take the first 5 inch section and make a loop by putting that piece on top of the first 8 inch section. If you’ve marked letters, you’d put section A on top of section B. This should be at about a 45 degree angle.
Keeping the first loop secure in your left hand, make a second loop by placing your next fold/mark over the first one, again at a 45 degree angle. If you’re using letters, C will go on top of B. For this tutorial, I’ve used my large hair clip to secure my ribbon to take the photo but I find it’s easier to just hold onto it rather than clipping it at each step. See how the loops make a nice, wide X? That’s the key to a big, full bow.
This loop is the trickiest. Instead of your fold/mark going on top like the previous loop, its going to go behind the first two loops, still at a 45 degree angle. Where you’ve marked D will go behind the sections marked B and C.
One last loop! This one will come over the top with the last mark or fold, marking off your 5 inch section, landing right in the middle.
Hey, this is starting to look like a bow, right?
One good way to check your work is to flip the bow over. While the front should make a nice big X, the back should have pieces of ribbon that are parallel to each other. If they aren’t, you can adjust things while they are secured with the large hair clip (or in your hand) to make them more even.
Creasing the center
There are many methods for making the center crease on a bow. What I’ve found easiest for me is to do an accordion fold, by folding it in half, and then making another fold on the top and on the bottom for 3 folds.
This is just the first part of the fold. Not enough hands to do the top and bottom creases and take the photo. I find starting with the middle fold is the best way to keep things nice and even.
Securing the bow
Once the center is creased into 3 even folds, secure it with the large hair clip.
Then, take about 36 inches of thread, double it over through the eye of a needle and knot at the end. Pass the needle through the opening in the hair clip, and then through the thread, making a slip knot. While holding the creased bow in your hand, slowly remove the hair clip and then wrap the thread around the center of the bow.
At this point, the thread should be tight enough that the fold is secure, but just loose enough that you can adjust things as needed. Once you’re happy with how things look, take the needle and pass it down through the center of the bow at least once, but more if you’ve got the thread and tie it off.
Wow, this is really looking like a real bow, now!
Center knot and attaching the clip
To make the center knot, you’ll use your short piece of ¾ inch wide grosgrain. Fold it over (like in the shape of an awareness ribbon) and then into a knot. Before you attach this to the bow, you will want to take a lighter or wood-burning tool and heat seal the end of the ribbon.
Attaching the alligator clip and the center knot are all part of the same process, Place the center knot in the center part of the bow, on the front. Clip your alligator clip onto the top part. Then, with your hot glue gun ready, take the bottom part of the center knot and bring it up and behind the bow and secure it with a dot of hot glue.
Once the glue is cool to the touch, attach the top part of the center knot, by bringing it over the top, and securing with a dot of hot glue, making sure that the alligator clip ends up in the middle of the bow, on the back. If you find that you have a little extra ribbon, you may need to fold it up and under when you glue it to the back.
If the tails are a little bit long for you, cut to desired length, if not, leave them as they are. It’s best practice to seal the ends either with a lighter or fray check.
And, just like that, you made a big bow!
Like this post? You might also like Aimee’s tutorial on how to make a bow organizer to hold all those beautiful bows you’ll be making!