I figured, since I griped and whined about the evilness of Gift Bags, and said that making a bow was simple, that I should put my money where my mouth is, and show you just how easy it is.
Those lovely experienced hands belong to my mom, who taught me how to make bows. The little helping hands that show up occasionally belong to Josh, who excels at helping with everything.
Step 1: Start with your plain package, and tie the ribbon around it the way you want. Mom did a basic cross. Be sure to leave decently long “tails” on the knot, as you will be using the extra ribbon to attach your bow. Also, we like to use ribbon that’s about ¾” wide. It’s easy to work with, although we’ve made this bow from nearly every size ribbon we’ve found.
Step 2: Make a loop, squish it closed in the middle, and hold it over your package. If it’s the size you want, unsquish it so you have a loop again. Otherwise, adjust the size until it looks good.
Step 3: Continue making several loops, one on top of the other. I usually do 5 or 6 wraps, which will give you 10-12 loops in the finished bow. Snip the ribbon from the roll, so now you have a bunch of ribbon coiled in your hand. Don’t let it go, it’ll explode like a little ribbon slinky.
Step 4: Squish the coil together like you did at the beginning, when you measured the bow. Now, fold the ends of the loops together, so they’re both in one hand, and the fold is sticking out. With really sharp scissors, hold the bow TIGHTLY in one hand, and snip the fold on an angle with the other. You’re going for an hourglass shape in the middle of the bow, like in that last pic above. This helps keep the ribbon from creasing, tearing or shredding when you tie the middle. As you cut, get your small helper to clean up the little shreds that drop.
Step 5: There are two ways to do this step. Following the pictures first… Ask your Small Helper to hold your loops together above the knot on your package, and use the tails to tie a good, sturdy knot in the center, where you’ve just cut that hourglass shape. Be careful to pull it snug enough to hold the bow against tugging, but take care not to pull too hard, because the ribbon could break. Not that I’ve done this or anything (which is why I use the second way). The second photo shows the attached loops.
The second way to do this, and the way I depart from my mom (because I often add embellishments to my bows before attaching to the gift), is to find a piece of yarn/ribbon the same color as the ribbon, and tie it around the hourglass center. This will hold the ribbon loops together, but allow you to work with the bow apart from the gift. Handy for attaching a second bow (maybe of a different color), a jingle bell, a small ornament, or any number of other doo-dads to the middle. You can also use the yarn strings on the bottom (leave them long until you don’t need them anymore) to attach the bow to the gift.
Step 6: Now, peel each layer of each loop OUT of the main loop, twisting them gently away from the master loop. Repeat this alternately from each side of the loop – right side, left side, right side, etc., until all of the loops are standing alone. Repeat with the other side. Now you have a pom-pom style bow!
Step 7: The ends. You don’t want to just leave the ends of your bow tails hanging there. Dress them up. You can snip them on an angle, or fold the ribbon in half and snip on an angle, pointing scissor tips toward the end of the ribbon. This will give the traditional “v-end” of the ribbon.
Done!! A lovely bow, done in about ten minutes, once you get the hang of it.