How to Make a Hair Bow

Instructions for Making a Hair Bow

Every parent who has ever had a daughter knows that girls like pretty little bows in the hair. They can be such a cute little accent that matches any outfit. Hair bows come in variety of shapes and you can make them in practically any color. But buying an assortment of hair bows from the store can get expensive. Plus, the store may not have the exact color or style that you are looking for. So what do you do then? Answer: you make the hair bows yourself. It’s not some pixie magic or a guarded secret. It is actually easy to do and anyone can do it.

There are several types of hair bows. There are classic pinwheel bows, basic toddler hair bows, layered bows, stackable bows, ruffled bows, rosettes, caterpillar bows, and flower bows.  Ribbons come in a variety of sizes and fabrics. You can get satin, velvet, nylon, cotton, and gingham. Remember that the more slippery the ribbon, the harder it is to work with. For beginners, it is recommended that you start out with grosgrain ribbon. Grosgrain has little ridges on it that allow for better handling. It is very flexible and easy to bend and will make a pretty bow.


To make a hair bow, you are going to need a few items. First you need to select a type of ribbon. For just one bow, generally a yard length of ribbon is more than enough. You will also need the following:

  • Scissors
  • Fabric glue
  • Hot Glue
  • Fray Check or clear nail polish
  • Snap clips
  • Barrettes
  • Floral or craft wire
  • Needle
  • Thread (matching the color of the ribbon)

Basic Pinwheel Bow

When making a basic pinwheel hair bow, you need to choose which sort of hair clip you want to attach the bow to. Different clips work better in different types of hair. For finer hair, alligator clips are recommended while French clips are better suited for fuller, thicker hair.

The first thing you will want to do is to cut two pieces of ribbon. The ribbon should be anywhere between 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches in width. You need to cut the ribbon so you have a longer piece and a shorter piece. The long piece needs to be about 24 inches in length while the shorter piece should be around 10 inches. The long piece of ribbon is going to be used for the main body of the bow. The shorter ribbon will be used for the knot. If you use a wider ribbon for the long piece then you might want to use a narrower ribbon for the shorter piece.

Next you will want to fold the long piece of ribbon over 5 times in about 4 1/2 inch lengths. You need to adjust the lengths to make sure they are all even. Take your thumb and forefinger and pinch the folded ribbon in the center of the loops. Using floral wire or craft wire, wrap the wire tightly around the center of the bunched ribbon which will gathering and hold the folds in the center of the bow. You could also use needle and thread to hand sew it but the floral wire will hold up longer and won’t melt when you glue it. Also, make sure that you trim off any excess wire. You don’t want it poking into your little one’s head.

After you have the bow tied off in the middle, turn it over and trim the ends so that they are nice and even. Angle the cut of the ribbon ends for a neater appearance. You can do this by just taking your scissors and cutting across or, if the ribbon is particularly wide, use a ruler or similar straight edge to draw a straight line. Now over time, a ribbon’s cut edges will begin to fray and your bow will look ratty. You can prevent this by sealing the edges. To do this, use a thin coat of Fray Check, fabric glue, or even clear nail polish along the edge.

Now you are ready to attach the bow to the clip. If you are using an alligator clip, you can simply slide the clip under the wire and then secure it with hot glue. If you are using a French clip, you will need to attach it with some additional wire before you hot glue it. Once the bow is secured to the clip, get your small length of ribbon. You are going to take it and knot it in the center. Place the smooth side of the knot on top of the exposed wire in the center of the bow and hold it in place with a small dab of hot glue. Wrap the ends of the shorter ribbon around the bow and glue each of the edges to the bow. Trim the ends of the shorter ribbon and seal them like you did before.

Once you have everything glued and dried, take the bow and fluff out the edges. The hair bow is now finished and ready to be worn. You can use this technique to make a variety of different colored bows to match any outfit. You can even experiment with ribbon lengths to get a different look.

Other Bow Types

If you are interested in trying your hand at other types of bows, here are some quick instructions.

Faux Bow

This is the easiest bow to put on a barrette. You can make it with one, two, or even three loops. You can start with two pieces of ribbon that are each eight inches long. Make one into a loop with its ends overlapping, and place it on a barrette. Take the second ribbon and slip it ribbon through the barrette and tie it around the barrette and the loop to secure it. Next, turn the knot around so it is on the underside of the barrette and trim the ends. Make sure the ends will trail down the back when the bow is worn.

Ribbon Ruffle

Take a 1 and a half inch wide ribbon that is a yard in length. Trim the ends and finish them with clear nail polish. It is important to wait for the ends to dry before handling the ribbon. After that you will want to sew a line of stitches along one side of the ribbon and as close to the edge as you can. The stitches need to be about 1/4 inch long. Gather the ribbon so that it is twice the length of your barrette. You will need to backstitch the ribbon once or twice to hold the gather before tying off the thread. Fold the ribbon into a “U” shape and sew along the gathered edge thus joining the two halves.

To finish it off, tie off and sew onto a medium or large barrette.


Start with a 24 inch long piece of ribbon that is at least an inch wide or more. Paint both of the ends with clear nail polish and wait to dry. Afterwards, fold one corner down to meet the edge. Sew a line of stitches all the way along one edge, catching the folded down corner as you sew. Next, gather the ribbon and tie it off. You will then coil the ribbon around the pointy end, kinda like you were trying to make a rose. Next, sew all the layers together from the bottom. Take a barrette or a piece of elastic loop and sew the rosette onto it and you are done.


You will start with a piece of ribbon 18 inches in length. Fold the ends under and sew a big line of stitches all the way down the center. As you do this, you need to be sure to catch the folded ends as you sew. After that you will gently pull the thread which will gather the ribbon down to the length of the barrette you’re using. Make a couple of stitches to secure the ribbon’s gather and then tie the thread off. To finish it, simply sew or glue the gathered ribbon onto a medium-sized barrette.

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