How to Make a Kick Ass Bow

Holiday Bows, Yo

At the beginning of September, my local craft store started selling pre-made Christmas bows for fifteen bucks a piece. Now, I ask you: Who is the crazy person spending fifteen bucks on a freaking bow? Is it you? Be honest. This is a safe space. You can tell me. Do your bows look like this?

bad bow looks like roadkill

Yeah, OK. I see why you’d drop fifteen bucks on a bow. I mean, that’s pretty pathetic. It’s like ribbon roadkill. I guess you really do suck at making bows. But, don’t despair. I know how to make a kick ass bow and, today, I’m going to show you how to make one too.

pretty holiday bow

The Holidays Are Upon Us!

This week is Thanksgiving (here, in the US), so, even though retail has been pushing Christmas trees on us since JULY, ’tis officially the season. You may now decorate without judgment. (While I totally appreciate the desire to fast forward to the end of this crappy year, I didn’t need to see your Christmas lights in August. I’m just sayin.) So, it’s on! Get ready to deck your halls with some kick ass bows, people…

zero the cat with bows on a chair

It’s difficult to show you how to make a bow in photos, so that is why I made you a video. It’s my first tutorial video ever, and let me just say, I hate my stupid voice. I guess that’s common, right? I mean, everybody hates their own voice. (Except, probably, Morgan Freeman.) I must reeeeeally like you guys though, because, in spite of that, I sing you a freaking song in the video. I’m not even kidding.

(If you don’t see the video below, click here to watch.)

ARVE Error: Mode: lazyload not available (ARVE Pro not active?), switching to normal mode

So, what did you think? Easy, right? The red ribbon is from Kirkland. You can find it here. It’s a fifty yard roll. That’ll make a whole hell of a lot of bows! (I probably shouldn’t say “hell” on a holiday post. Sorry.)

In the video, I promised you some diagrams, so here you go:

This one shows you the path your ribbon will take, from start to finish. (Click to enlarge.)

Diagram of how to make a bow

“Zero” means start, and “BOW!” means you’re done and there should be a bow in your hand. If that’s confusing, that means that you did not watch the video. Shame on you! Go back and watch it right now. (Yeah, with the sound on… I know. I’m sorry. My voice. The song…)

This next graphic just shows you how you’ll be holding your bow as you make it. (With the loops numbered for your reference and color coded to match the diagram above. You’re welcome.) You’ll rotate the final bow 90° when you’re finished.

diagram of how to make a bow

You don’t have to use wire edged ribbon, but it really is your best bet for making a beautiful bow that will stand the test of time. I’ve been using the same bow for my Christmas tree topper since 2003 and it still looks great. (Yes, for reals.)

silver mesh holiday bow

Cat christmas tree with a bow

That’s our tree from last year. This year’s tree is not up yet. Know why? BECAUSE WE DON’T DECORATE FOR CHRISTMAS UNTIL AFTER THANKSGIVING! Like normal people.

BOWnus Tips

(See what I did there? It’s no wonder you love me.)

Some things just didn’t make it into the video. (Lucky for you my song wasn’t one of them…) Editing is hard. So, these are just a few extra tips that should help you make that perfect, kick ass bow.

  • Some ribbons have a right side and a wrong side. Make sure the right side (the pretty side) is facing you at all times. Don’t let the ribbon twist.

Ribbon right and wrong side

  • I don’t prefer them, but some people like “V” cut tails. Here’s a little GIF to show you how to do that.

V Cut bow tail

  • Skinny ribbon tends to make skimpy bows, but you don’t have to stop at eleven loops. If you want to add more, skip the last two loops (ten and eleven) and double back to loop number five, then continue from there. Feel free to double back as many times as you want for a super loopy bow.

Multi loop skinny ribbon bow

  • You can skip the “Lightning Loop” and cover the pipe cleaner with another piece of ribbon for a more open looking bow.

open type bow

  • It’s better to match your pipe cleaner color with your ribbon so it blends in. All I had was black. See how bad that looks? Do as I say, not as I do.

Bow with black pipe cleaner

  • Two bows can be put together to make one, giant, glorious, kick ass bow.

Two bows become one

  • Don’t forget the dollar store for ribbon. There’s only enough on a spool to make one bow, but a dollar for a bow is pretty freaking great. The tulle one would be perfect for wedding decorations.

Dollar store ribbon bows

  • A present, wrapped with a beautiful, hand made bow on it, makes the gift inside even more special. (Except for this one. I wrapped an empty box to take this photo. It’s a stunt box.)

Wrapped Christmas present with bow

Well, that about does it. To paraphrase Jedi Master Yoda, no more training do you require. Now know you that which you need. And here’s a pinnable graphic for Pinterest so you never forget…

How to make a bow pinterest pin

See? Even Zero can make a bow. You’ve got this.

Guys, I wanna see your bows! Follow me on Facebook and Instagram and tag me in your beautiful bow pics. And don’t forget to subscribe below if you haven’t already.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! 2020 sucks, but I still have a lot to be thankful for. I hope you do too!

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  • Liser

    On your mark… get set… BOW!

    Pretty bow, do do do do do do, pretty bow, do do do do do do…

    Bow, Bow, Bow your Bow, gently down the… um… bow?

  • Joan

    The song makes it! Too funny! I don’t do any decorating until after Thanksgiving. A few neighbors had their Christmas lights up and on the first week of November! Let’s let Thanksgiving have it’s own time, shall we? I put my lights up the day after Thanksgiving (weather permitting), but they are not turned on until Dec 1st. I don’t want to be sick of Christmas before December, ya know? I then put up the tree that first week of December and do whatever decorating I plan to do. I get a month to enjoy my decorations, then it all comes down Jan 1. Light might be stuck on the house longer due to weather, but they are turned OFF. Drives me crazy seeing the lights on for months after the holiday is over. A while back I had driven by a house in JULY and they had a lighted Christmas wreath on their door, still lit up! Insane…

    • My Crappy House

      Yeah, it makes the season less special for me when it bleeds into the other months. I DO NOT want to see stores decorated for Christmas in September. It screams corporate greed to me. I’m also emphatically against stores opening on Thanksgiving Day. Grocery stores, OK, but they should close by noon or 1PM. Then you have the crazy people decorating stupid early and leaving their stuff up stupid late. It dilutes my Christmas spirit for sure! My leg lamp will go in the window after Thanksgiving. Then it’s ON!

  • LaFawne

    Loved it! I have followed your blog for a while, now I am subscribed on You Tube also. You are one of the truly down to earth bloggers who makes it fun to watch and get new ideas.
    Keep on keeping on

    • My Crappy House

      Thank you! I was SO nervous to do a video. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the guts to show my face on camera, but you never know… Thank you for subscribing to my Crappy Channel

    • My Crappy House

      That makes me so happy! It was a challenge for me to figure out a way to explain my method in a graphic. I’m happy you get it!

  • Marilyn

    THIS WAS AWESOME, and your SONG really put me in the mood to decorate! Hope you guys have a GREAT Holiday season, stay SAFE and SOUND, now if you will excuse me I gotta go find my Christmas ribbon box!

    • My Crappy House

      Haha you’re so funny. You’d better study that video so you don’t get caught in a lie… Or, I guess you could say you just forgot how… That happens to old people…

  • em

    I have been making bows forEVer…but my technique changes with each and thankfully wire ribbon is very forgiving. They are forced to be okay…HOWEVER….I like your bow stylings and will add that to my repertoire because of the damn fine result.

    Although all our outdoor lights (about 8K this year!!!) are strung we don’t light them until after we eat the bird. Since I usually decorate most square inches of the house, I confess that I usually start decking the halls around Veterans’ Day. Otherwise it takes too long to finish and I get holiday stress and extreme testiness. Eventually one of the kids wants to start lighting a tree PRE-Thanksgiving and my mom gives me the tsk tsk of shame when she discovers that we’ve jumped the gun indoors. Same lecture every year. I know, we suck.

    ANYwho…Loved the video, your voice, and your tune. WELL DONE!

    • My Crappy House

      My first real job was working for this crazy store called Fantasyland. They had all sorts of weird stuff… plus crafts, gifts, ALL of the artificial flowers, and a whole aisle dedicated to ribbon by the yard. (That aisle was self serve – you can imagine what a freaking mess it was. Ribbon EVERYWHERE…) I was hired as a gift wrapper for the holiday season at 16 years old. I was taught how to make bows, but I soon made up my own technique and I had the prettiest bows in all the (fantasy)land. I always felt a little sorry for the customers who got stuck with other gift wrappers with their crappy bows and messy wrapping paper jobs.

      Girl, with eight thousand lights to string up, you’ve got to start early. And you’re only “early” if the lights are actually ON before Thanksgiving. As for your indoor pre-holiday infractions, I’ll leave that tsk’ing to your mom. What you do inside your house is your business. (And your mom’s, apparently…)

      Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  • SusieQ

    We could be BFFs. Really. I love to do this kind of stuff. People at the office (when I worked in an office) use to bring me their ribbon spools at Xmas & ask me to make their bows for them, so I had to keep a box of pipe cleaners in my desk drawer! I just love to be crafty!

    Girl, you need to ask Smoochy Boy for a Silhouette Cameo for Christmas. I can see starting a business with that thing between your wood-working abilities & the Cameo! (be sure to check out what this kick-ass machine can do!).

    Anyways – love the bows & the nosy cat!

    • My Crappy House

      Yep. I can’t even count the number of bows I’ve made in my life. It’s funny how impressed people are when you pop out a bow and I like helping them out. We’re like bow heroes… haha

      I bought myself a Cricut Explore2 to make stuff for our wedding. I haven’t done much with it yet, but I at least plan to do our invitations with it, so that justified the expense for me. I kind of wish I got the Maker, as you can do stuff with fabric, but I’m such a huge procrastinator, it would probably be years before I actually got around to a project that required the better machine. I haven’t looked into the Cameo, but I’m assuming it’s similar? I probably should spend more time with my Explore. Perhaps for Christmas gifts…

  • Mia

    Tutorial is so well done–clearly explained and the perfect video speed for the how-to steps. Add in paw pics and a solo, well that makes it so above “just another holiday video.” Bravo!! I put lights in the windows this week, but that’s it until after Thanksgiving. Just greenery and lights until Jan 1st, then window candlelight until little Christmas. Have to undo in steps to ease into the long cold winter ahead. Happy Thanksgiving to crappyhouse family!

    • My Crappy House

      Thank you so much! That’s high praise I like your decorating schedule. Easing in and easing out. I love those window candles. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing those all winter long. To me, they make a house look just more warm and friendly, rather than overtly “Christmasy”. Happy Thanksgiving!

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