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Ribbon Bows

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Making a bow out of ribbon appears to be quite easy, but in fact, is quite difficult. We all know how to tie our shoes, but a decorative bow is much harder. I spent years struggling to make a beautiful bow with very little success. Since learning this technique, my ribbon bows now come out perfect nearly every time. These quick and easy ribbon bows work well for crafts, presents, and decorations. I thought this would be a great crafting skill to share with all of you.

Start by choosing your ribbon. The thickness of the ribbon has an impact on how you will hold your hands and the length you need to cut. I like to use a ribbon with wire in it because it is easier to shape.

  • 2 1/2 inch – hold your 4 fingers very wide, cut 4 feet of ribbon

  • 2 inch – hold your 4 fingers wide, cut 3.5 feet of ribbon

  • 1 1/2 inch – hold your 2 fingers very wide, cut 3 feet of ribbon

  • 1 inch – hold your 2 fingers wide, cut 2 feet of ribbon

  • 1/2 inch – hold your 2 fingers close, cut 1 foot of ribbon for a single bow which looks better in this size

Directions for how to make a double bow:

Allow a 6-inch tail and place the ribbon, with the design facing you, between your 2nd and 3rd fingers.

between second/third fingers

At this point, you will want to twist the ribbon. This is especially important if your ribbon has a single-sided design.

twist ribbon

Wrap the ribbon around your first two fingers.

wrap around first 2 fingers

Place the ribbon between the 2nd and 3rd fingers and twist it again.

between second/third fingers and twist

Wrap the ribbon around your 3rd and 4th fingers. If you were doing a single bow you would finish it off at this step.

wrap third/fourth fingers

Tuck it between your 2nd and 3rd fingers and twist it again. The twisting of the ribbon not only keeps the design facing out but also helps the bow to hold its shape.

twist again

Again wrap the ribbon around your first two fingers, tuck it between the 2nd/3rd fingers and twist it.

Ribbon Bows – wrap first/second and twist

Wrap it around the 3rd/4th fingers. If you wanted to do a triple bow you would repeat the last step.

Bows – wrap third/fourth

Take the long tail and tuck it under the ribbons between the 2nd and 3rd fingers.

tuck between second/third fingers under the loops

As you push it under the ribbon loops, be sure the design is facing out. You are going to wrap it completely around the loops and tuck it between the 2nd/3rd fingers again. I like to place my thumb under the loop as I put it in so I have a gap for the next step.

wrap around loops using thumb to make gap

tuck between second/third fingers again

When you pull the tail through be sure it comes out on the same side as the other tail end of ribbon.

Next, you will want to tuck the long tail through the gap in the loop you just made so that there is a tail on each side of the bow.

feed through gap

Gently pull the loop tight adjusting it so it looks good.

pull snug

arrange ribbon

Adjust the ribbon as necessary to make it symmetrical and look good. This is when the wire is so helpful. It makes the bow so much more maneuverable.

play some more

Fold the tail ends in half and do a diagonal cut from the folded edge. This will create a dovetail and finishes it off so nicely.

dovetail ends

I like to use it for many things. When I want to attach it I either use glue, jute rope, or some more of the ribbon placed through the back of the middle loop.

Ribbon Bows – 1 inch finished bow

another 2.5 inch finished bow

finished 2.5 inch bow

A variety of ribbon bows displayed of packages wrapped with brown paper.

Ribbon Bows

If you have a technique you like to use, we would love to hear about it.

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