Today I’m showing you how to sew a bow.
Hands down this cute bow has been the #1 favorite sewing project of my beginner’s class. My kids made them, and instantly asked if they could make another. Still, weeks later if they have a little extra time in our class, they ask to make more of these! My girls wanted to make more hair clips like these for themselves, their sisters, and their animals, and my boys loved how they came together.
It’s no wonder. These simple diy bows are so easy to make with just 2 pattern pieces and not a lot of fabric. You can make them in any number of fabrics and they clock in at about 10 minutes/bow (maybe a little longer for kid hands). If you use this project to teach your kids how to make fabric bows, they’ll learn:
- How to close up a hole by hand (slipstitch or overstitch)..
- How to turn a tube inside out
- Working on getting sharp corners.
- Simple pinch pleating to create the bow.
Once you make one with my step-by-step photo tutorial, I promise you you’ll make more. This is a scrap-friendly project you can make for DIY hair bows, pony holders with bows or even easy bow ties (see the clips).
So grab a set of turning tubes, and let’s make some DIY hair bows!
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How to sew a bow supplies
- Small scraps of fabric
- Quilting ruler
- Fabric Marker
- fabric scissors (my favorite for adults and my favorite for kids)
- Turn it All Tubes or other fabric tube turners
- Barette clips or hair elastics
- sharp hand needle
- 70/10 universal sewing machine needle
- Lightweight fusible interfacing(optional, see note on fabric below)
What kind of fabric to use for making fabric bows
Any kind of cotton will work here. Cotton shirtings or cotton quilting fabrics are excellent choices.
You can also use a rayon challis. If you do, iron on a layer of lightweight fusible interfacing for the best results. This will help keep the rayon challis from shifting too much while you’re sewing and also give the bow some good shape.
If you’re using cotton, there’s no need to use fusible interfacing.
Mix up your fabric choices. Seasonal choices like a luxe metallic fabric can make for a festive bow around Christmas, and linen is always a good idea in hot weather.
What is the seam allowance for this project?
There is quarter inch seam allowance included in the dimensions of the bow pieces for this project.
1/4″ seam allowances are great here because you won’t need to trim extra fabric away, and you’ll get nice crispy corners on the bow.
Can I use these DIY fabric bows for bow ties?
A quick note: this project will make a simple fabric bow.
The handmade fabric bows you’ll see here are different than a traditional bow tie which is made from one long piece of shaped fabric. Traditional bow tie patterns are a little more complicated to make and I wouldn’t suggest them as a first bow project since they require some precise measurements at the neck.
That being said, you can totally get the look of a bow tie with this project. I tested these bows as bow ties on my sons’ shirts. Simply button up to the top and use the clips to hold them in place.
How to sew a bow
Cut your fabric
For every bow you want to make cut:
- one piece 4″x5″ (Bow body)
- one piece 4″ x 1.5″ (Bow center)
- one pattern piece 4″x5″ (Bow body)
- one pattern piece 4″ x 1.5″ (for the center of the bow)
If you’d like to make a larger bow or even a giant bow, simply cut the bow body larger than the dimensions given.* A Little fabric bow can be a sweet decoration for dolls. Use larger bows for dress decorations or gifts or for Christmas trees or wreaths. *Note that you don’t really need to change the size of the piece for the center of the bow.*
Different sizes you can try for your diy bows:
- mini bow: 2″x3″
- XS bow: 3″x4″
- S bow: 4″x5″
- M bow: 5″x 6.5″
- L bow: 6″x8″
- XL bow: 10″x12″
Sewing the bow
To start out, bring the short edges of the larger piece of fabric right sides together.
Sew down the edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a small opening in the middle of the seam about 1/2″ long. This you’ll need for turning the bow.
For the next step, adjust the seam so that it sits in the middle of one side of the bow. Sew across the two short sides with 1/4″ seam allowance.
Sew the bow center
Bring the long edges of the bow center right sides together.
Sew down the long edge with 1/4″ seam allowance.
Turn the bow pieces right side out
Insert the blue tube turner into the bow center. Push the dowel through the end to turn the bow center. Wiggle the seam around so that it sits in the middle of one side. It won’t be visible from the opposite side of the bow center.
Use the largest tube turner in the same way to turn the bow piece right side out.
As you’re turning the bow, spend some time finding the corners. Use the dowel to tease them out, then wiggle out the edges with your fingers.
Press the bow
Using your iron on a high setting, press the bow with steam, making sure that the raw edges of the hole are even with the edges of the seam.
Close up the hole by hand
Thread up a hand needle. When working with kids, I have them double thread their needles so that they don’t come unthreaded. For adults, just single thread your needle and tie a knot at the end.
Insert the needle into the backside of the bow near the hole. Work stitches from one side to the other to close up the hole. You can use a slipstitch here, though for kids, an overcast stitch is a little easier. Be sure as you stitch that you’re only stitching through the backside of the bow. When you’re done, you should not be able to see any stitches on the right side of the bow.
When you’ve closed up the hole with your hand stitches, tie a knot near the base of the thread. Cut off the excess thread.
Attach the bow center to the bow
To attach the bow center, first hold the bow in your hand, pinching the middle together. You should have a small loop of fabric around the middle of the bow.
As you pinch the center, the fabric should sit in small pleats. Simply put, you’re making an accordion fold with your pinch. Wrap the bow center around the middle of the bow with the seam of the bow center facing up.
Change your machine to a straight stitch with a 1.5mm length. Stitch through the bow center close to but not through where the bow sits. I like to stitch just to the right of where the bow center is wrapped around the bow. Backstitch at the beginning and the end as you stitch.
Cut off the excess fabric length on the bow center. Finish off by turning the bow center right side out.
DIY hair tie bow or DIY bow with a barette?
From here, you can turn your handmade fabric bow into a hair tie by looping a hair elastic through the bow center on the back, then looping it back on itself to secure it.
If you’d rather, you can turn your DIY fabric bow into a barette by slipping a simple clip barette under the bow center on the backside of the bow. For more security, add a small dot of hot glue to help keep the barette attached to the bow.
And that is how to sew a bow. This is such a great project that’s quick and easy, you’ll want to make a bunch of your own gorgeous bows.
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Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.