I am not a real bow maker.

I wish I was, but some things come easy for me and other things, well, not so much.
But I love bows and I have learned enough to fake it.
I would love to share some tricks that I use, but there are billions of others who are so much more amazing than me.

But, you kindly asked so I will share the reality of my bow experiences.

Here's the deal:

Making your own bows does not save money.  Ribbon is expensive unless you buy it in 100 yd. spools and you will never use up a spool that big unless you are a full time bow maker.  I usually use at least four types of ribbon per bow, so if I am lucky each pair costs me about $10- $12 for the ribbon alone.  Then I have a bunch left over. I used to make bows for gifts with the extra ribbon, but you need to know if the recipient is a"bow girl" (you are or you aren't).  I made the mistake of giving bows to non-bow girls and have never seen them worn.  Lesson learned. At least Halley can pass her bows down to Lucy (if she ever grows hair) and then Lucy can pass them down to Janey, so the investment isn't so crazy when looking at it that way.

Sorry for that trip to Debbie Downerville.  
I just want to be real and honest and share my experiences.  So many tutorials have grand claims of how you can have an instant bow business and be the most unbelievable bow maker ever with a few easy steps.  
I dare you to type in hair bow in the Ebay or Etsy search box.  There are thousands and thousands of listings.  There are also thousands and thousands of instructions you can buy.  I foolishly bought one, didn't like it, bought another, ditto, bought a third, same problem... before figuring out that I could Google "hair bow instructions" and get them for free.  Oops.

If I haven't scared you off yet, here is how I make Halley's bows.  I use a few simple tools (legit bow makers would call them "crutches", but I am all for whatever gets the job done) that will be a small initial investment, but will help keep frustration at bay.  I have tried sewing them, wiring them, measuring them, but nothing has been as easy and reliable as this method.

I use this wooden bow maker every time.  It keeps the loops even and consistent, even when I am not.  The white plastic clip is called a Gator Bite (expensive but worth it) and it has made a world of difference.  I wrap the ribbon around the wooden dowels, cut it where it seems long enough, and then clip it with the Gator Bite.  I usually make 3 of these with different 1.5 inch ribbons for each bow.

This ribbon is the best.  Affordable, semi-invisible and holds like crazy.  I get it at Jo-anns but I am sure you can find similar ribbon anywhere.  You will want the 1/4" size.  This is the step that I used to hand sew and it took forever.

I take the bow off of the dowels and thread the organza ribbon through the Gator Bite.  One quick knot and viola... bow!
Simple, even, cute, quick.  Now make two more from your other ribbon.

Then I stack the three bows on top of each other, hot gluing in between.  I then take a 1/4" coordinating ribbon, thread it through a fabric covered button and wrap it around all three bows.

More hot glue to attach it to the french clip and then run a bead of glue along the whole clip and press it onto the bottom bow.  Watch out.  It's hot!
I clip the ends of each bow so they are even and then run a lighter along the raw edges to seal them.

The top clip is called a french clip.  I strongly recommend them for any type of big bows.  You need the extra hold, especially if your daughter's hair is fine.
The bottom clip is an alligator clip and is best used for tiny clippies for baby hair or to hold bangs back.  They really can't support the big fluffy bows. (I learned the hard way.)
Lastly, if you want to be super fancy, stuff each loop of your bows with white tissue paper and spray the heck out of them with this stuff.  I found it at Michael's in the the glue aisle.  They will be very full and look like you got them from an expensive boutique.  I don't do this step very often, but it makes a huge difference when I do.

So that's it.
Are you going to try to make a few?
If not, head over here, here, here or here to have some fabulous pros make them for you.


  1. I haven't read all week, and I'm behind! I love your honesty. I'm a bow girl, but for the life of me can't seem to make them. I guess I don't have the proper tools - and the ribbon I love gets pricey! Thanks

  2. So fun to read this...as I am just taking a break from a little bow work myself!!

    It is interesting to read all the different techniques!! I wouldn't have a clue how to operate that wooden bow maker, but the fact that it gives you even sizes is oh so tempting!! And that stiffening spray! Maybe THAT is the step I am missing in getting my bows so over the top! Where do you find that?

    Thanks for sharing!!

  3. you are so funny....thats QUITE the bow maker you got there....never ever used one! I wish lil kept bows in her hair for longer than 2 minutes, I might have an obsession then...like i need another one! Great tutorial nonetheless.

  4. I love the tutorial.
    And adore the bow.
    It makes me want to try to make some myself, but I'll probably just hop on over to one of your links and have the pros do it for me. :)

  5. You look like a bow maker to me. Those are darling.

  6. I just love how when I click on your blog, you always have something fun or funny to share with us! I look forward to your blog the most every day!

  7. Great little tute, Julie!! I am so behind in my reading...sooo, Happy Birthday!! 11 is a beautiful number, my b-day is 11*11. I bought one of those bow makers at a yard sale for $1. Have I yet to use it? Noooo, but maybe one day I will? Um, totally addicted to Chick-Fil-A's Peppermint Chocolate Chip shakes, totally. I had my husband take a sip and he hated it, said it tasted like all that medicine his mom made him take as a kid. Good, more for me!!
    Am I caught up?? Think so...
    Merry Christmas!!

  8. Love the bows!! I would love to try your method..maybe one day. I need one of those wood do-hickies!

    My little girl was a bow girl.. now she pulls them out instantly!! Hopefully that phase will pass and we can resume the bows!

  9. Wow, love the colors.Beautiful ribbon prints.

    If you are looking for free tutorials, pls chk out the new forum.



  10. Hi Julia, I sent you an email but I'm not sure how often you check mail as you seem to fit more into your days that I can I even dream of. I would desperately like to know: the grooves that your gator clip slot into on your wooden bow maker, did you add those in or did your bow maker come with them? Would like to know before ordering one. Many thanks from Nikki in South Africa.

  11. I love making bows!! It has become a passion of mine! To help you on the cost you should go to Hobby Lobby if there is one near you! I only buy ribbon when it is 50% off there!! So I pay $1-$2 a spool! Granted I would rather get 100 yrd spools!