How to Make a Bow

Watch The Knot video on how to make a bow and follow our easy step-by-step instructions.
by Lauren Kay
How to make different types of bows

You mastered tying your shoelaces as a kid and have never looked back. But making a bow, especially with ribbon, is another story. Don't be intimidated—it's a lot easier than it looks. Remember that bunny ear trick you were taught years ago? It still applies when making bows!

Bows are the perfect topper to gifts and a lovely addition to your wedding day decor. You can tie bows with any kind of ribbon or even make the bows out of paper. From simple bows (perfect for flower girl sashes and wedding programs) to more elaborate bows with wired ribbon (a pretty finishing touch for wreaths and pew bows), we've got you covered. Check out our how-to video to make a bow and read on for step-by-step, bow-tying instructions.

How to Make a Simple Bow Out of Ribbon

How to make a simple ribbon bow

You can make a simple bow with any kind of ribbon: silk, grosgrain, velvet or wired. Choose a ribbon in your desired thickness. Any width works, but the wider the ribbon, the bigger the bow.

Supplies: ribbon, ruler, scissors

Instructions for making a bow out of ribbon:

  1. Cut a piece of ribbon. Fifteen to 20 inches of ribbon will make a nice-size, simple bow.
  2. Make two loops (or bunny ears) with your ribbon. Adjust the loops to be the size you want the loops of your bow to be. 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, and remember: No one gets a perfect bow on the first try.

How to Make a Bow Out of Paper

How to make a paper bow

Paper bows are a cute alternative to ribbon bows, especially for small gifts (think: bridesmaid jewelry). We created a foolproof template for you to make this bow "tying" a cinch.

Supplies: template, printer, card stock, pencil, scissors, glue

Instructions for making a bow out of paper:

  1. Download our bow template and print. (See bottom of article.)
  2. Trace the template onto card stock, then cut.
  3. Place a dot of glue in the center of the bow piece. Fold one rounded edge side to the center and press to adhere. Add another dot of glue and repeat with the other side.
  4. Add a dot of glue to the center of the tail piece and attach the bow.
  5. Wrap the small band around the center of your bow and glue the sides together at the back.

How to Make a Bow Out of Wired Ribbon

How to make a big bow from wired ribbon

Wired ribbon is a crafter-lover's dream. Even novice DIY-ers love it, because it's so forgiving. The thin and flexible wired edge allows you to mold the ribbon in any bow configuration you'd like.

Supplies: wired ribbon, ruler, scissors, pipe cleaner

Instructions for making a bow out of wired ribbon:

  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 another, larger loop with the same piece of ribbon and fold in underneath the center loop. Repeat on the opposite side of the bow.
  3. Continue making loops, alternating sides and making each set 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 actually be the tails to your bow. Trim the ribbon close to the center of the bow.
  5. Tuck this edge under the bow. Insert a pipe cleaner under the center loop to gather all the loops of the bow. Twist to secure and trim edges.
  6. Cut the final long loop, giving your bow two tails.
  7. Fluff the loops to give your bow shape and fullness.
  8. Trim the tails at a diagonal to create two points to each tail (optional).

How to Make a Floral Bow Out of Ribbon

How to make a floral bow

This bow style is most often used by florists for a finishing touch on a bud vase or corsage. Florists typically use floral ribbon, which has a flat, waterproof finish. Our twist makes this bow perfect for other things too, like embellishing a wedding program basket or adding a little flair to a card box. Choose the ribbon that works best for the project (we used wired satin for our bow).

Supplies: ribbon, ruler, scissors

Instructions for making a floral bow out of ribbon:

  1. Cut two pieces of ribbon, one short (about 12 inches) and one long (depending on the size of your bow, 1 to 2 yards).
  2. Create a loop with the end of your long piece of ribbon, then twist.
  3. Holding the twist taught with one hand, make another loop on the opposite side on the bow. Then twist.
  4. Repeat these steps, making alternating loops until you achieve your desired 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 to tie the loops together. Tie the knot at one end, leaving the second, longer end loose—this will be the second half of your tail. Double knot so the bow is secure.
  6. Trim tails and fluff individual loops for a full bow.

*paper bow template

How to make a paper bow template

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