Bow Maker Instructions

Christmas bow image by Photoeyes from

Bow makers, available in varying sizes, work as a third set of fingers, pinching and holding the wrapped, twisted and stacked layers of bows together until they are wired in place. With a bow maker, you can make exuberant, professional-looking bows in customised colours at a much lower cost than purchased bows.

Bow Maker Instructions

The trick to making professional-looking bows is to stack uniform lengths of loops and then tie them tightly before they slide out of place. The bow maker will hold the centre of the slippery ribbon layers in place as you work; the dual centre dowels are placed very close together so that they will hold them securely, so don't try to adjust them further apart.

Most ribbon types will work well. For average-weight ribbons, eight layers of loops on each side of the centre dowels will produce an attractive, full bow. Very sheer lame, net or voile ribbons will make the most attractive ribbons if you use half again as many layers. Likewise, heavier-weight ribbons, or wired ribbons, will need fewer layers. The size of the bow will also determine how much ribbon you'll need for a bow.

Some ribbon has no "wrong side" -- the colour, texture and pattern are the same on both sides. For such ribbon, fold the lengths in layers, pinching the centre into the dowels. Ribbon that has a wrong side must be twisted one-half rotation before it is secured into the dowels so that the decorated, colourful right side will be uppermost on each side of the ribbon.

Make equal length loops on each side of the dowels to make a symmetrical bow. To create a bow with additional colour and dimension, add layers of contrasting ribbon in shorter loops on top of the initial layer.

When you've added as many layers as you wish, secure the layers tightly with a twist of floral wire, then pull the layers up and out of the dowels. Starting with the bottom layers, adjust the bow loops so that they are spread out. Shape the loops into a fat X shape for a traditional bow. Wrap a length of matching ribbon around the wire to conceal it, and to further suggest a traditionally tied bow. For a round, pom-pom type of bow, spread the loops so that they form a continuous, circular shape.

Most ribbon ends will fray. To prevent this, cut the ends on the bias. One method is to cut the end at a 45-degree angle. However, it is equally effective, and somewhat more decorative, to fold each end in half lengthwise, then cut a 45-degree angle toward the fold, resulting in notched ribbon end. For an even more decorative finish, make the angled cuts with pinking shears.

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