How to Make a Ribbon Bow for Wreaths, Gifts & More

How to make a ribbon bow
Unique ways to make and style ribbon bows for wreaths, gifts and more.

Do you have a Christmas wreath that you want to adorn with a ribbon bow? Or are you planning to wrap a gift and would like to make a festive bow to put on it? Maybe you would like to add a bow to accent your home decor.

If you want to find out how to make a ribbon bow for any of these scenarios, you will find that this post includes 3 – easy step-by-step instruction bow tutorials showing how to make and style ribbon bows 3 easy ways. One includes a video tutorial so you will be a master bow maker in no time.

No bow making gadgets needed or DIY skills, just ribbon, scissors and floral wire.

Stack of small boxes wrapped in white and black script lettering paper for Christmas.

After seeing how to make each of the bows shown in this post, you can then better decide what style of bow will look best for your needs.

How to make a ribbon bow topper for a Christmas Tree

This multi-loop wide satin buffalo check ribbon makes a very merry Christmas tree topper.

A ribbon bow on a wreath hung with matching ribbon.

How to Make 3 Different Styles of Ribbon Bows

There are many ways to make bows. I have found that these 3 bows are the fastest to make. Plus, they are classic in style that look good no matter where you use them.

Outdoor deck and dock Christmas decorating ideas
Multi-Loop Bows on Garland

First let me answer a few questions about making perfect ribbon bows.

What Type of Ribbon Makes the Best Bows?

What-type-of-ribbon-to-use-to-make-a-bow

You can use many different types of ribbon to make a bow. From velvet to grosgrain. Thick or thin ribbon, it doesn’t matter as a bow is made the same way no matter the size of the ribbon.

Using wired ribbon does make fuller bows that keep their shape. Traditional satin and velvet ribbon are best to use when you prefer a bow where the loops fall softly to each side.

If you can’t find ribbon you like, tulle makes very festive bows and can be purchased very inexpensively at the craft store. Crepe paper, burlap and even cut strips from fabric yardage can be made into bows.

How Many Yards of Ribbon Are Needed to Make a Bow?

Most ribbon is sold by the spool that has a few yards on it. Specialty ribbon is sold by the yard.

  • Wreath: To make a bow for a standard size door wreath you will need about 54″ of ribbon. If you want to make one with 6 multi-loops, double these measurements.

Bow #1: How to Make a Classic 2-Loop Bow With Wired Ribbon

Follow these steps on how to make a basic 2-loop bow using the “M” method.

Make-the-perfect-bow-extra-special

I call this bow the “Easy M”. It is a simple bow and my “go-to” bow. It works with any kind of ribbon, but best with wired ribbon.

Follow these easy steps to make one.

How-to-make-a-bow

supplies needed:

  • 52-inches of wired ribbon
  • 12-inches florist wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Sharp Scissors
The-M-method-used-to-make-a-bow

1. Make a loose “M” shape with ribbon.

How-to-make-a-bow-out-of-ribbon

2. Cinch each side to start to form loops.

Bow-making-tutorial

3. Hold each side with your hands where you cinched ribbon.

Wired-ribbon-bow-making-step-by-step-tutorial

4.  Cross loops and put one through the opening under the crossed loops – just like the way you tie a shoelace.

easy-way-to-make-a-ribbon-bow

5. Once one loop is through the opening, pull both loops to tighten knot in center. It will look like this.

This is the step where most people not used to making bows think they have failed Bow Making 101 and give up.  Don’t ! You just need to primp a little now.

How-to-primp-a-ribbon-bow

6. Lay bow right side up on a flat surface. Hold tails and pull one loop at a time to make them even. Place your fingers in the inside of a loop to add fullness.

The wire in the ribbon will help you shape each loop.

Bow-tutorial

7.  Pull the loops at the same time to tighten knot. Twist loops if needed to get them straight and even with each other.

Bow-making-101

8. This is the most important step.  Put your index fingers under knot to pull and straighten the knot.

Pull the edge of ribbon to each side of knot.

how-to-make-a-classic-bow-with-ribbon

9. After you primp, the bow should look like this.  A dimple should be in each loop near the center knot.

How to Attach Wire to Hang Bow

How-to-attach-a-bow-to-garland

1. Turn bow face down. Thread one end of a 12-inch long piece of wire under and through the back of the knot.

Attaching-wire-to-a-bow-so-you-can-hang-it

2. Center wire and twist wire against knot to secure.

How to Trim the Ribbon Tail Ends

How-to-notch-the-ends-of-a-ribbon-bow

For the finishing touch, when cutting the ends of the ribbon, I like to notch the ends of the tails into an inverted “V” shape. A simple angle cut looks nice also.

1. Fold end of tail in half lengthwise and cut on an angle from the outer edge to the folded edge of the ribbon with the sharpest scissors you have.

How-to-make-the-perfect-bow

2. Unfold the ends and flatten with your fingers to smooth.

TIP: To make the wire edge of ribbon smooth, run the wired edge through your thumb and index finger to smooth and get kinks out.

Variation: Add Multiple Tails to Add Fullness to Bow

Variations-on-bow-making

1. Determine the desired length of the new piece of ribbon, double that measurement, then cut.

The-perfect-bow-tutorial

2. Find center of cut ribbon and place it over the wire on back of bow.  Twist wire to secure.  Cut tails.

When Using a Ribbon Bow For Gift Wrapping

Gift-box-with-ribbon-bow

Tie a gift tag around the back of the bow and let it hang from the center of the bow.

Christmas-gift-wrapping-idea

To add some bling to your wired ribbon bow, pin a brooch style pin on the knot as I did in an a photo above in this post.

Bow #2: How to Make a Multi Loop Ribbon Bow

This six-looped ribbon bow is made using only one length of ribbon that includes the center loop that looks like a covered button. This center is only a small loop you make in the ribbon as you make the bow.

How to Make a Bow For a Wreath. Red plaid multi loop bow with looped ribbon center.

This style of bow that some call a florist’s bow or a multi-loop bow, I call a Macy’s bow. It looks best when you make it with stiff or wired ribbon.

I like this bow best when holiday decorating. It looks festive when made with plaid ribbon and placed on a front door.

I learned to make this wired ribbon bow when I worked as a visual merchandiser at Macy’s. I made hundreds!!!

It was the only bow we were allowed to make for the store to place on stacks of display gift boxes, garlands and trees.

Evergreen wreath on door with red velvet wired ribbon bow.
Red velvet multi-loop bow on wreath.

Instead of a step-by-step photo tutorial to show you how to make this bow, I made a video. Watching the bow actually being made will make it easy for you to see how to make one or more for your decor or gifts.

supplies needed:

  • 3 – 1/2 yards wired ribbon
  • Scissors
  • 12-inches florist wire
  • Optional: Wire cutters

Bow #3: How To Make a Ribbon Bow With a Stapler

A stapled bow? Yes, they are easy to make, especially when you want a larger bow.

How to make a ribbon bow

The stiffer the ribbon you use to make a bow this way, the more poufy the bow will be.

For this bow, I used satin ribbon so the loops softly fall to the sides of the bow.

I looped ribbon around a cardboard snowflake that I had previously used as place mats for my holiday table setting.

To attach the snowflake to the bow, I wired it to the back of the knot on the bow. I used a dot of hot glue on the back of the bow to attach it to the mirror. You could also attach with a Command Brand Picture Hanging Strip.

supplies needed:

  • Ribbon- cut into 3 sections – loop, tail, and knot.
  • Stapler
  • Scissors

For my bow: I cut the loop –24”  tail – 30”   knot – 6” 

Ribbon bow making tutorial

1.  Fold loop section in half.

Ribbon Bow tutorial

2. Fold over again as shown and staple in the center to create the loops for the bow.

How to make a stapled bow

3. It should look like this. Set aside.

How to make the perfect ribbon bow

4. Find the center of the tail section, fold over and staple.

How to make a ribbon bow the easy way

5. Making sure right sides of ribbon are facing front.  Match up the staples on the tail and loop sections and staple them together.

How to make a ribbon bow the easy way

It will look like this.

How to make a ribbon bow

6.   Lay the knot section underneath and fold one edge over.

How to make a ribbon bow

7.  Tuck the raw edge under the folded edge, overlap to fit snugly and staple twice.   If you have one of those little staplers – you can slide the stapler right in between the knot section and the loop and tail section so the staple will lay flat. 

I rummaged through all my junk drawers and could not find one, so I had to staple on the outer edge of the ribbon because the bottom section of the stapler would not wedge under the ribbon.

It works, but the ribbon edges are raised up when they should be overlapping and then stapled.

How to make a ribbon bow

Fluff the loops with your fingers.  All done!  This ribbon is 2-1/2 inches wide and the knot comes out a bit too wide for my liking. I use a variation to attach the knot section – next photo.

How to make a ribbon bow

When using wide ribbon, you can fold it in half before tying onto the loops or you can tie the ribbon around the loop and tail sections so the knot gets more “scrunched”.

I used a 7” piece of ribbon and tied it around the center of the loop and tail section, then made a double knot.

Easy ribbon bow

Trim the excess and hot glue each end down on the back of the knot so they stay flat.

How to make a ribbon bow

A “scrunchier” – knot.

How to make a ribbon bow

8. Cut the tails. I prefer a simple angle cut.

How to make a ribbon bow

How to Attach or Hang Bow

One glue dot or dab of hot glue on a sealed or slick non-porous surface will come right off without damaging the surface.

How to hang a bow on a wreath

Or hang the bow with wire. Thread a piece of florist wire through the back of the knot, wrap around and twist to secure.  Use the ends of the wire to tie your bow on to any object.

The Easiest Bow To Make

The easiest bow to add to a wrapped gift is simply taking a long length of ribbon that will go around the gift box once or twice and then bringing it up to the top and tying the ends of the ribbon like you would your shoelaces.

Once the bow is tied, primp the loops with your fingers until they look nice. Cut the ribbon ends into notches.

Black and white buffalo plaid ribbon on gift wrap of the same design

The Best Places to Buy Ribbon to Make Pretty Bows

The best places to find beautiful ribbon inexpensively is at HomeGoods, Marshalls, TJ Maxx.

Online, both Amazon and Etsy sellers have a wide variety of ribbons. In the site’s search bars, type in what color, type and width ribbon you want. Along with the words, “by the yard” or “rolls of ribbon”.

Other places to find pretty ribbon are Hobby Lobby, Michaels and JoAnn Fabrics.

Now that you know how to make 3 different types of ribbon bows, which one would you like to make.

Red plaid ribbon bow for a wreath - Text overlay says How to make a multi loop bow with looped center

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