Finished bow

Owning a floral shop for 12 years meant one thing: bows – lots and lots of bows. And when it came to the holidays, I had to find quick and easy ways to make these wreath, package and bouquet finishers ahead of time for the mad rush of the Christmas season. Even at home I had to make our bows well before the season arrived so that our family could settle in and enjoy the holiday once the last flower delivery was made.

Bows aren’t difficult to make, and they can really add a wonderful personal touch to a present, wreath or other holiday decoration.

You only need a few supplies to make the perfect bow, so head out to your local craft shop, floral store or garden center and pick up the following:

  • 1 25-yard roll of #40 red metallic Vel-Pruf ribbon (one roll will make five generous wreath bows – other types of ribbon can be used for smaller adornments)
  • 21- or 22-gauge florist stem wire, 18¼ inches long
  • 1 roll of dark green or brown floral tape
  • 1 pair of shears that will cut through wire (as well as ribbon)

Now warm up your fingers and get started:

Bow Making

Making bow step 1

Bow Making - Step 1

Tape your length of wire by stretching the floral tape out as you roll the wire in your hand. Start at the top of the wire and work your way down the entire 18¼ inches. Set aside. (It’s important to cover the wiring because it eliminates any rusting and reduces scratching of surfaces. It also means fewer injuries from working with the wire and an overall tighter bow because the tape prevents the ribbon from slipping).

Photo Credit: Eva Monheim

Making bow step 2

Bow Making - Step 2

Pull some ribbon off the roll and give the end a decorative cut. The pennant cut (one long diagonal across the end’s length) saves time, money and material, but the swallow-tail cut (where you cut a small triangle out of the end of the ribbon) adds extra eye appeal – which is great when you’ve got a less ornate bow design. After cutting the decorative end, hold the ribbon right-side up with the tail end facing you. Make a small loop that’s the same length as the tail, then pinch the bundle together. (This will become your center loop.)

Photo Credit: Eva Monheim

Making bow step 3

Bow Making - Step 3

On the underside where the pinch is, give the ribbon coming from the roll a half twist – this keeps the ribbon red-side up. (The twisting action also makes the bow stand up and gives it dimension.) Once you’ve made the twist, pull additional ribbon from the roll to make a loop about one-third longer than the first loop that was made with the pinch. Twist this loop directly under the first twist. (Right-handed people will find it easier to twist to the left and vice-versa.) You can make the loops all the same size after the first small loop, or you can gradually make them larger as you go.

Photo Credit: Eva Monheim

Continue the pattern of twisting and looping until you’ve got three sets of loops on either side of the pinch – not including the small loop in the center. This is a good stopping point.

Making bow step 4

Bow Making - Step 4

To make your bow’s streaming tails, make one long additional loop and twist it again under the pinch. You can trim the ribbon’s end connected to the roll now or wait until you’ve wired the center before you cut it. When you do cut the ribbon from the roll, make sure the end is about the same length as the loops to give your bow the best appearance.

Photo Credit: Eva Monheim

Making bow step 5

Bow Making - Step 5

To secure the bow, take the wrapped florist wire and center it over the first twist, turn the bow over and twist the wire as tightly as possible. Now, spruce up the loops by holding onto the wire in the center of the bow and arranging them nicely around the small center loop. Next, trim the streamer ends with the swallow-tail or pennant cut. Voilà, your bow is complete!

Photo Credit: Eva Monheim

Simply use the additional florist wire to attach your bow to a wreath. To add the bow to a poinsettia, twist the floral wire around a shish kabob skewer and insert the stick into the plant (or other holiday decoration). With a little practice, you’ll be making smaller bows for all your gifts (or even as tree ornaments). And the best part of these homespun ribbons isn’t the ease of making them or even the money you save – it’s the personal touch these bows add to everything they adorn. Happy decorating!