A couple weeks ago I was looking for some space on a shelf, and I noticed that I had three containers of ribbon. Grosgrain, satin, organza, I love them all, but I'd become a bit of a hoarder. The last time I remembered using a substantial amount of ribbon for a project was at least four years ago.
I have moved twice in the last four years, which means that I have packed up these three containers twice without using much from them. And here they were, taking up valuable storage real estate. No more!
Last week we made a holder for all the hairbows in our lives, but I thought maybe you'd be interested in making some of the actual hairbows, too.
Pretty, layered bows can get really expensive. When I was designing and selling children's clothing on eBay, one of the bow makers in my design group would sometimes get 20-30 bucks for a pair of bows! Ribbon is not expensive, and when you know a couple little tricks, bow making is not too difficult. Save your money!
The first step is gathering supplies. You need ribbon. I like Grosgrain Ribbon, because it holds it's shape a little bit and doesn't get too wrinkled over time. Grosgrain is the ribbon that has little horizontal ridges along the length. For each bow, you'll need about 3/4 yards, per ribbon type. (If you are making a pair of layered bows like the ones in this tutorial, you'll need 1 1/2 yards, times three types of ribbon.) Buy extra ribbon if you like to change your mind--you might want to add extra loops or make an extra bow. It's better to have extra than to run out when you're on a roll. (Are you getting some insight into what made me a ribbon hoarder?)
You'll also need sharp fabric scissors, all-purpose sewing thread, a sharp sewing needle, some blank hairclips, and a hot glue gun. Before you start, thread your needle, double it, and tie a sturdy knot at the end.
Before we get started folding, sewing, cutting, and gluing, I want to tell you about this important trick. Always seal the edges of your cut ribbon to prevent fraying. You don't want to go to all this trouble, just to have your ribbon come apart on you over time. You can use a fray-check liquid on the ends, but I've noticed that it leaves a visible residue.
Here's what I do:
Light a candle, and hold the end of the ribbon just close enough to melt the very tip of the ribbon edge. Be careful not to burn it! If you are unsure whether it worked, wait a second for it to cool, and run your fingers across the edge. You should feel a tiny ridge where the fibers have melded together.
I usually wait until the bows are completely finished to do this, but there are several points at which you might want to stop and seal them. Just wait until you know you are done trimming.
Step One :: Folding
(Before you start folding, make sure your threaded, knotted needle is within arm's reach!)
The secret to perky hairbows is in the folding. My bows are not tied or twisted. Each section is folded, accordion-style, and held next to the other sections for sewing. It might take a couple tries to get right your first time, but the method makes nice, big, fluffy bows every time.
For the bottom layer of these bows, I chose a 1-inch-wide piece of grosgrain. I start by trimming the end into a nice 45-degree point. Don't cut the other end of the ribbon until you are sure you like your bow. I have been known to refold 4-5 times before I'm happy with it. For the first fold, I folded one side down, and one side up, about 2 inches from the end of the ribbon. I like to see a little pucker in the top of the ribbon, since that is what holds to finished bow in place. Pinch tight with your fingers, and start the first loop.
To make your first loop, estimate the size of the loop, and fold it under to meet back at the pinch. Each ribbon is different, so try a couple different folding options to see what looks the best. For this one, I made two pleats again, first down, then up. Lay these pleats next to the first set and proceed to the other side.
You'll notice that I'm working on my measured cutting mat. I don't usually measure the loops, but if you are noticing that yours are looking wildly different, measure them against each other and adjust.
Once you have made all the loops that you want, trim the tail to match the other side. If it is looking too wonky at this point, don't be afraid to let it all go and try again. It does take a little practice to get comfortable. Keep holding all those pleats and grab your threaded needle.
Stab the needle through the center of the pleats, making sure to catch every fold. Pull the thread through, over the top of the bow center, and through the front again. I like to sew through and over three stitches, and then through and under three stitches. Kind of like sewing on a button. When you are finished, tie another sturdy knot and clip the thread.
If you are making a set of matching bows, this is the time to make your second bottom layer bow. Compare the two as you go to keep them the same size.
This is my second layer bow. I made it almost exactly the same size as the bottom layer--maybe a tiny bit smaller. This will make for a fun, poufy bow. I folded this one using a single pleat each time. Down one way, and up the other way. Try out different folds to see what you like.
My top layer is only a two-loop bow, also with a single pleat each time.
Once you have all the elements of your bows made and sewn, line them up and grab your glue gun.
Step Two :: Glue Gun
(I can't believe I'm letting you see how messy my glue gun looks.)
Keep the glue right in the center of all those pinched pleats. Then place the next layer on top and press down to secure. Don't burn your fingers!
Glue each layer and let cool. Tip:: don't pull gluey strings until the glue has cooled. They'll snap right off.
Step Three :: Attach the Clip
Anyone know what these clips are called? I have no idea, but I like them the best for my kids' hair. You can also use those alligator-type clips with no problem. Before attaching the clip to the bow, take out the inserted piece and set it aside. You'll put it back at the end.
Hot glue the length of the clip to the bottom of the bow. Wait for it to cool. You're almost done!
Cut a 3-4 inch length of ribbon that matches the top bow layer. This will be the center knot.
Hot glue the center of the ribbon to the back of the clip. Then flip the bow over and tie a double knot on the top of the bow. This looks cute, but it also helps to hold everything together.
Pop the insert back into the clip.
Now repeat all those steps to make your matching pair! If you haven't already, stop and seal the ribbon edges.
Now that you know how to make a hair bow, and you have a good place to store them, you can make one for every occasion.
Just don't become a ribbon hoarder.
Come back tomorrow and I'll show you how to make a slightly different bow center.
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