How to Make a Bow for Wedding Gifts Using Ribbon or Paper
You mastered tying your shoelaces as a kid and have never looked back. But when it comes to how to make a bow, especially with ribbon, it's another story. Don't be intimidated—once you've got the hang of it, making a bow out of ribbon is a lot easier than it looks, and these helpful step-by-step tutorials outline everything you need to do. Bows are the perfect topper for wedding gifts and a lovely addition to your party decor, whether you're planning for the wedding reception or decorating for a prewedding event, like the wedding shower or engagement party. Beyond the standard gift boxes, you can tie the bows onto chairs, wreaths, bouquets of flowers, basket handles or almost anything you can think of. Keep reading for our instructions for how to make a bow step-by-step, plus a handy video tutorial, illustrations, a printable template and some shoppable ribbon options.
TL;DR: How to Make a Bow
We'll get to the step-by-step instructions of how to make a bow in a second, but if you're a visual learner (same here), watch this short bow-making tutorial video and thank us later.
How to Make a Bow Out of:
How to Make a Bow Out of Ribbon
For this type of bow, you can use any kind of ribbon, like silk, grosgrain or velvet. Any width works but remember: the wider the ribbon, the bigger the bow. Once you learn how to make a bow out of ribbon, you can use this simple but useful type of bow for decor, like the flower girl basket or aisle markers, or as a hair accessory (check out these wedding hair bows for inspiration).
1. Using your ruler and scissors, cut a piece of ribbon between 15 and 20 inches long. This length will make a nice-sized bow.
2. Make two loops (or bunny ears) with your ribbon. Adjust the loops to be the size you want your final bow loops to look like. Make sure your tails are fairly even too.
3. Fold the left loop over the right loop and bring it around and back through the center hole.
4. Pull tight to create a knot. Tug on the loops and tails to finesse your bow. Remember: It's okay if you don't get a perfect bow on the first try.
How to Make a Bow Out of Wired Ribbon
Wondering how to make a big bow out of ribbon? Wired ribbon is your answer, because the structured edges allow you to mold the bow into a dramatic size or shape. These bows are great for large boxes because the big, beautiful bows will set your gift apart from the rest. Here's how to make a bow with wired ribbon—tie yours to the backs of chairs, add them to flower arrangements or attach them to wedding signage.
- Wired ribbon
- Pipe cleaner
1. Take a long piece of ribbon (at least 36 inches) and create a loop at one end, folding one side over itself. Use your thumb to hold down the inside of the loop. This is the center of your bow.
2. Create a larger loop with the same piece of ribbon and fold it underneath the center loop. Repeat on the opposite side of the bow.
3. Continue making loops while alternating sides. Each set of loops should be a little longer or bigger than the previous one.
4. When you have as many loops as you'd like, make one final loop. This one should be big and will eventually be the tails to your bow. Cut the ribbon close to the center of the bow.
5. Tuck the edge of the ribbon you just cut under the bow. Insert a pipe cleaner into the center loop to gather all the bow loops.
6. Make sure to securely hold the center of the bow while twisting the two ends of the pipe cleaner, do this for about three to four rotations. Cut the ends of the pipe cleaner so there's about one inch left.
7. Cut the big long loop, from step four, in half. These are the tails of your bow.
8. Fluff the loops to achieve your desired bow shape and fullness.
9. Cut the tails at a diagonal to create two points for each tail. This step is optional.
How to Make a Paper Bow
Paper bows are a cute and unique alternative to ribbon bows, especially for gifts in small boxes (think: bridesmaid jewelry or wedding cufflinks). If you're wondering how to make a bow out of paper, start with this easy printable paper bow template.
Printable Paper Bow Template
Print our custom bow outline and cut out each piece so you have all the components ready to go—no measuring or attempted sketches required.
- Bow template
- Cardstock paper
1. Download our bow template and print.
2. Using your pencil and scissors, trace the template onto cardstock, then cut out the outline.
3. Place a dot of glue in the center of the bow cut out with the rounded edges.
4. Fold one of the rounded edge pieces in half (without creating a crease) and press to adhere the square tip to the center. Add another dot of glue and repeat with the other side. This piece is your bow loops.
5. Add a dot of glue to the center of the tail cut out, then gently press the center of the bow loops piece on top of the glue.
6. Wrap the small band cut out around the center of your bow and glue the ends together at the back.
How to Make a Floral Bow
This bow style is often used by florists as a finishing touch on flower vases or corsages, but it's an easy embellishment for non-bloom-related details too, like a wedding program basket, wreath or card box. Choose ribbon in a color or print that matches your wedding aesthetic and follow these steps to make a floral bow.
1. Cut two pieces of ribbon, one short (about 12 inches) and one long (depending on the size of your bow, one to two yards).
2. Create a small loop with the end of your long piece of ribbon, then twist where the loop ends.
3. While still holding the first twist taught with one hand, make another loop on the opposite side of the bow. Then twist.
4. Repeat these steps while making alternating loops until you achieve your chosen size (we made four loops on each side). You should still have some hanging ribbon, which will become one of your tails.
5. Use the shorter piece of ribbon you cut in step one to tie the bow loops together. Double knot at one end, leaving the second longer end loose—this will be the second half of your tail.
6. Cut the tails and fluff individual loops to your preferred length and fullness.
What You Need: Editor's Picks
Along with basic supplies like scissors, a ruler and glue, you'll need the pièce de résistance for your DIY ribbon bow: the actual ribbon (or paper, if you're making a paper bow). The material will make all the difference in how your bow looks, so we recommend choosing a color or print that echoes the theme of the gift. Now that you know how to make a bow out of ribbon, shop some of our fave ribbons for making bows below.
For the Ribbon Bow: Raw-Edge Silk Ribbon
With a luxurious silk look, this raw-edged ribbon feels much more artisanal than the average satin options. It's perfect for elevating basic wrapping paper or dressing up a bottle of wine with a simple ribbon bow.
For the Wired Ribbon Bow: Shimmery Satin Ribbon
Wired ribbon bows have a lot of structure, so they're a great opportunity to show off a ribbon with an interesting print or color. This shimmering ribbon is a festive choice for any celebratory gift.
For the Paper Bow: Metallic Foil Cardstock
Plain white cardstock is classic, but if you're trying to spice up a gift with a fancy bow, why not try something metallic instead? This pack includes 25 sheets of cardstock in assorted pastel colors to match a variety of styles.
For the Floral Bow: Sheer Organza Ribbon
Because the floral bow is so voluminous in design, you can get away with using a more narrow ribbon size. Sheer chiffon ribbon is easy to twist and fold into multiple loops, and this pack includes six different colors to choose from.
How to Make a Bow Tips
You've learned (and mastered) how to make a bow, but there's no such thing as too much helpful bow-making advice. Read these valuable tips to put the finishing touches on your creation.
Start with long ribbon strands.
Use more material than you think you'll need. You can always cut long tails shorter, but if your bow tails are too short, you'll either have to live with it or start over.
Make sure the bow tails are even.
Don't be surprised if, after you've completed your bow, one tail is longer than the other. Luckily, the fix is simple. Measure your bow tails, then cut the longer tail to match the short one.
Customize with a special touch.
Sure, you could be done with your bow-making project, but why not add a little pizzazz to your bow? Cut the ends of your tails diagonally to give the tails classy points. Another option is to perform a chevron cut. Cut an even triangle from the ribbons so that the point of the triangle is in the center of the tail. Or once you've mastered a basic bow, tie a charm or other bauble in the center of the ribbon for an extra touch of personality.
How much ribbon to make a bow?
The amount of ribbon you need will depend on how big or small you want the bow to be, but somewhere between 15 and 20 inches of ribbon is a good start. Longer ribbons will make it easier to create and tie your bow, and you can always trim the ends to size as needed. Once you've mastered making the big bows, you can try working with smaller ribbon or shorter ribbon lengths.