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How to Sew Fabric Bows

This is a quick and easy step by step tutorial for how to sew a fabric bow. You can turn your bow into a clip / barrette for your hair or a pin / brooch for clothing, bags, etc.

Watch the tutorial video or continue on for the text/photo version of the tutorial. (Most of the photos can be enlarged if you click on them.)

 

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I made the iridescent blue/pink bow from this awesome fabric from WholePort.com!

Ready? Here we go!

Tools and Materials

  • scrap fabric – my example measures 10″ x 12″.
  • 6″ length of ribbon – 3/8″ wide to 3/4″ wide for this size bow. (Thinner or thicker ribbon might be more appropriate for smaller or larger bows.)
    You can use grosgrain, satin, etc. It’s up to you.
  • scissors
  • high temp glue gun
  • sewing machine or serger
  • binder clip or clothespin
  • fastener of choice: alligator, snap clip, or bobby pin for hair accessories, pinback for a brooch
bow_01
Step 1

Step 1
Cut a rectangle of fabric twice the width and twice the length of the size of your desired bow. My 10″ x 12″ rectangle of fabric will create a bow that is roughly 5″ x 6″.

If you fold the rectangle in half twice, you can get a good idea of what the end bow size will be.

I use a fairly narrow (1/4″) seam allowance, and I’m not too picky about the bow being slightly smaller than estimated, so I don’t account for seam allowance. If you’re going to use larger seam allowances (1/2″, for example), you may want to account for that when choosing your rectangle size.

Step 2
Step 2

Step 2
Fold the rectangle in half, right sides together, lining up the longest sides (in this case, the sides that measure 12″). Pin, if necessary.

bow_03
Step 3

Step 3
Sew along the long edge, using the seam allowance of your choice. Use a serger or a regular straight stitch on your sewing machine. It really doesn’t matter.

Step 4
Step 4

Step 4
Now you have a tube of fabric. Turn the tube right side out, and lay it flat with the seam facing up. Adjust as necessary to center the seam as best as you can.

Step 5
Step 5

Step 5
Flip the fabric over, so that the seam is on the bottom (but still centered).

bow_06
Step 6

Step 6
Fold the rectangle in half, matching up the unfinished edges. Pin, if necessary.

bow_07
Step 7

Step 7
Sew or serge the seam.

bow_08
Step 8

Step 8
The result is now a smaller tube. Turn the tube right side out (so the seam is on the inside), and center the seam.

Step 9
Step 9

Step 9
Flip it over so the seam is facing down. The tube “openings” should face North and South, at this point.
Starting at the center, fold the rectangle accordion-style, as if you were making a paper fan.

bow_10
Step 9.1

The photo above shows the rectangle after folding.

bow_11
Step 10

Step 10
I like to use a binder clip to hold the folds in place at the center of the bow. You could also use a clothespin. Or you could baste the center in place. Hand sewing would probably be easiest, considering all the bulky layers.

Step 11
Step 11

Step 11
Squirt a glob of hot glue on the end of the ribbon.

bow_13
Step 12

Step 12
Place the BACK of the center of the bow on the glue. Let the glue set.

Step 13
Step 13

Step 13
Squirt about a 1″ line of glue along the ribbon.

Step 14
Step 14

Step 14
Remove the clip, using the other hand to keep the bow folds in place.

Step 14.1
Step 14.1

Roll the bow into the glue, and keep rolling until the ribbon wraps all the way around the bow. You want a fairly tight wrap.

Step 15
Step 15

Step 15
Hold the ribbon in place until the glue sets.

bow_18
Step 16

Step 16
Trim the ribbon, leaving a 1.5″ tail.

bow_19
Step 17

Step 17
Slide the ribbon through the fastener.

Step 17.1
Step 17.1

Squirt a small dot of glue on the back/bottom of the bow.

Step 18
Step 18

Step 18
Press the fastener and ribbon into the glue. If possible, fold the raw edge of the ribbon underneath first, so the raw edge is then sealed by the glue. Allow the glue to set.

bow_finished
Voila!

10 thoughts on “How to Sew Fabric Bows

  1. Again with the simple yet too adorable piece of accessory. Still love love love it. I’d like a bow to put on my finger as oversized ring or wear as bracelet. I’d be hard not to notice. Hehe.

  2. I’ve been looking for something cute & easy to make. These are just perfect. Your instructions & pictures are clear and cute. I especially like the little squirts of hot glue! Thank you so very much for sharing your creativity with us.

  3. This is such a good tutorial for novice sewers and really useful as I came across here looking for sewing projects as Christmas gifts and now I have found the perfect one! Thanks

  4. Love the tutorial! Thank you for sharing. What minimum wattage is needed for a glue gun to be high-temp enough to do the quality work?

    1. Most of the hobby high-temp guns are in the 60-100 watt range. There are some “pro” versions that are more like 200-400 watts. As long as it melts the high-temp glue, any of them will work. The real difference in wattage is how fast it can melt the glue. I’d probably go for 80 or 100. Unless you have a huge project that requires a TON of glue (and fast), I don’t think you need the crazy wattage the pro guns offer.

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