I made my daughter (and a couple of her friends) a collection of hairbows when she was 16 months old. We still use a lot of the same bows today, although some of them desperately need to be thrown out, they've been worn so much. My mom brought my ribbon box down to Costa Rica when she visited us recently, so now I can finally replace some of them and make some new ones.
Recently, I made 2 sets to go with my daughter's new preschool uniform (yes, here in Costa Rica, even the preschoolers are required, by law, to wear uniforms). I took pictures as I made them...
- 1/2 inch ribbon (I like using grosgrain ribbon…Michael’s has a great selection…see my notes at the end about choosing ribbon)
- alligator clips (I used to be able to get these at the craft store, but they stopped carrying them. My mother-in-law bought me a big box, though, at a beauty supply store)
- glue gun, fray-stop (fabric liquid-for the end of the ribbons), thread and needle
There are three types of bows that I have made: 3-loop bows, simple bows (see any of the 2-tone bows in the first picture), and straight clips.
Step 1: cut ribbons to length and seal ends of ribbon with fray-check
- straight clips: a 5 inch piece OR cover the whole clip
- simple bows: a 5 inch piece, a 1.5 inch piece, and a 7 inch piece (with angled edges)
- 3-loop bows: a 5 inch piece, a 1.5 inch piece, and a 17 inch piece (with angled edges)
Step 2: use the glue gun to glue the medium piece on the alligator clip. If you are doing a straight clip, you’re done.
Step 3: fold your ribbon and sew it to keep it in place (the sewing was an important discovery for me…it doesn’t need to be extremely strong, just enough to keep it from slipping)
- simple bow: form a traditional bow and sew in the center with a needle and thread to hold in place; go to step 4
- 3-loop bow: fold bow into 5 even folds; sew up through the center (only once) and let your needle and thread hang while you arrange your bow. (This step changes a little if you want the same side of the ribbon facing up because you are using a ribbon with a pattern only on one side. Instead of being able to just fold it over, you will need to turn it when you are folding it. See the light green, dark blue, and red w/orange dot examples in the collage above. )
Spread out the 3 loops on each side, place the top and bottom layers of the ribbon (the cut edges) out to different sides so that the bow will be reversible. Then sew back through the layers of ribbon to hold them in place. Pinch the layers so that the outside ribbons will curve under the bow; finishing sewing to secure and tie off your thread.
Step 4: glue your bow onto the center of the clip (if you have made a simple bow, pay attention to the direction…when the bow is used, you will want the cut edges pointing down. What side will your girl wear the bow on? If you are making a set of two…make sure that each faces a different direction so that one can be worn on either side of the head)
Step 5: place a dot of glue on the top center of your bow. Press the center of the remaining piece of ribbon on top. Open the alligator clip, and put a dot of glue on the underside of the bow. Fold one edge of the center ribbon around and under. Put another dot of glue in the same place, and secure the other end of the ribbon.
- For really thin hair, glue a tiny piece of hook Velcro on the top part of the inside
- For a bigger bow, cut your main piece longer and fold it back and forth more times. Or add a second color of ribbon (same width or thinner).
- Glue the bows on a ponytail holder or a headband
- Take a stretchy cloth headband. Sew both ends of a 1-inch piece of matching ribbon to the center. This gives you a place to clip on any of the bows you’ve made …changing the headband to match your outfit.
Cleaning and repairing: I’ve had to hand wash a couple of my bows (back in the avocado in the hair stage of eating) and they have turned out ok. A few have even survived the washing machine when they accidentally get tossed in the laundry. The most common repair that I have had to make is re-gluing the piece of ribbon that is covering the clip itself. One option would be to make it longer and have it wrap all the way to the inside of the clip…the downside of this is that it makes it harder to slip into your child’s hair…which is why I just choose to fix them instead of preventing this most of the time.
Ribbon choices: The colors you choose really depend on the wardrobe of your girl or whomever you are making bows for. The most frequently used bows in our house are the pink ones. Others have been made to match specific dress outfits and are now rarely used. My favorite bows are the brown bow with the pink center (simple bow) and the red bow with the white stitching (which we have lost…and I ran out of this ribbon…how sad). How can you pay for all those different spools of ribbon...a couple of ideas: use coupons and sales, share ribbons (and cost) with a few friends, or offer to make sets for a few friends - at $1 per bow, they are still getting a much better deal than they can get in a store (this last option is what I ended up doing and paid for all my materials), use them as gifts.