Creating handmade bows out of ribbon is a fun way to add personal flair and creativity to any gift or project. There are so many ways to make bows that some craft stores offer local classes or tutorials on creating different types of ribbon bows.
Bow crafting with large ribbon is often easier since the width of the ribbon makes it effortless to tie in different knots to produce loops and strands. Thin ribbon can be a little trickier, requiring nimble fingers to create the perfect bow.
So, how do you make a bow with thin ribbon? The method you use to tie the ribbon will depend on what you’re creating the bow for, such as a stand-alone bow with the classic loop look, a bow made of ribbon scraps without loops, or a bow with ribbon wrapped around a present.
In each section below, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide to creating different types of bows with thin ribbon, then link a video for you to watch the ribbon being tied in action. By the end of this article, you’ll be an expert in making bows with thin ribbon!
How To Tie A Gift Bow
The method we recommend for tying a ribbon bow around a gift box will create a beautiful, flat cross on the back and a loop bow on the front.
First, you’ll need to grab your gift box and your ribbon. Cut a long piece of ribbon, keeping in mind that you’ll need it to be long enough to wrap around your box twice and still make a bow.
When cutting your ribbon, remember that you can always trim extra if it’s too long, but you can’t add length if it’s too short. To avoid wasting a piece of ribbon that ended up being too small for the box, cut longer than you think you’ll need.
Once you have your gift box and ribbon ready, it’s time to get tying!
Here’s how to tie a gift bow:
- Lay your gift box on a flat surface with the shorter side running horizontal and the longer size running vertical. If your box is a perfect square, don’t worry about the orientation.
- Take your ribbon and lay it horizontally across the middle of your box, leaving only around 9 inches (if you have a small box) hanging over the left side. You should have a straight line of ribbon running horizontally across the middle of your box, with the rest of your ribbon waiting on the surface to the right of your box.
- Hold the left overhang in place with your left thumb, then lift the box and wrap the longer portion of ribbon around the back with your right hand. Pulling tightly, bring the ribbon in your right hand up to meet your left hand.
- Keeping your left thumb holding the small overhang tightly, pull the longer portion of ribbon in your right hand up and over the top side of your box. Wrap it around the back of the box, running the ribbon vertically this time, and bring it back over to the top of the box in the middle of your horizontal ribbon line. (Your ribbon will look crooked on the top of the box with a diagonal line running across the top left corner, but it will all even out in the end).
- Use your left hand, holding firmly on your small overhang, to slide that portion of ribbon to the middle. The horizontal ribbon will shift and you should now have both ends of your ribbon in the middle of the box.
- Wrap the ribbon in your right hand diagonally across the cross in the middle of the box. It should go over the top left corner of the cross and come out underneath the bottom right corner.
- Tie your bow as you would normally to tie your shoes, creating a bow with two loops and two loose ends. Pull it tight, clip the ends to be even in length, and voila! You now have a perfect gift bow with a beautiful, flat cross in the back.
To watch this bow tying method in action, check out this video below by MADE Everyday.
How To Tie A Fork Bow
If you want to create a tiny bow using thin ribbon for a doll accessory or other tiny project, the best method to use is the fork bow method.
To use this method, you’ll need to grab your ribbon, a pair of scissors, and a regular dinner fork with 4 prongs. You can use this method with the thinnest bow in your craft bin, so if you want to make a really thin bow, this is the best way to go.
Like the method before, cut a length of ribbon that is longer than you think you’ll need. This will make it easier to work with, and you can always trim the ends when you’re done.
Here’s how to tie a fork bow:
- Fold the length of ribbon over the prongs of the fork with the fold on the left side. Make sure the ribbon end on top is a little shorter than the ribbon end on the bottom; pull the ribbon until the lengths are set.
- Hold the ribbon fold on the left with your left hand, then use your right hand to grab the longer ribbon end on the bottom. Bring the ribbon in your right hand up and run it through the middle of the fork (in between the two middle prongs). It should run over the top of your shorter ribbon length.
- Keep the tension with your left hand, then bring the ribbon in your right hand up over the back of the ribbon and run it back up through the middle of the fork.
- You should now see a twist on top and on bottom of your ribbon in the middle of the fork. Holding the two ribbon ends, you’ll tie a simple knot (the same type that you tie on your shoelace before making the bows).
- To tie the knot, hold the top ribbon end in your left hand and the bottom ribbon end in your right hand (this will be opposite than the way you were holding the ribbon before). Wrap the ribbon end in your right hand over the other ribbon end, then loop it underneath and pull tightly.
- As you pull your ribbon ends tight, be sure to pull them down and out diagonally, creating a V-shape with your ribbon ends.
- Once the knot is pulled tightly, slip your ribbon off your fork. You should now have two loops on each side and two ribbon ends. Snip your ribbon ends to be even and short in length, and that’s it! You now have a tiny bow made with thin ribbon.
To watch this bow tying method in action, check out this video below by Red Ted Art.
How To Make A Ribbon Scrap Bow
Our final recommended method for creating a bow with thin ribbon uses ribbon scraps instead of making a traditional bow with loops.
For this method, you’ll need to gather ribbon scraps cut into lengths of 6-10 inches, depending on how big you want the bow to be. Cut the ends diagonally to create a polished, professional look.
You can use the same type of ribbon for all your ribbon scraps, or you can cut pieces from different types, patterns, and widths of ribbon. If you use different types of ribbons, we recommend cutting 3 scraps of each.
The number of scraps you cut is up to you, but we recommend using at least 20 ribbon scraps to create a bow with a fuller, nicer look.
Other materials you’ll need are scissors and a small zip-tie for each bow you’re making.
Here’s how to make a ribbon scrap bow:
- Begin laying your ribbon scraps on a flat surface. You’ll want to lay them strategically to create a bow look. We recommend laying two in an X-shape, crossing over each other, but keeping them on a flatter diagonal plane. Then lay one straight across the middle.
- If using multiple types of ribbon, lay them each together, 3 at a time. Start with your wider ribbon on the bottom and lay them in order from widest to thinnest, with the thinnest ribbon on top.
- Try laying them a little differently with each layer of 3 pieces. They don’t have to overlap perfectly. Laying them crookedly on top of each other will help your bow look fuller and each ribbon layer stand out.
- Once all of your ribbon scraps have been laid on top of each other, pinch them all together with your thumb and forefinger and hold them tightly. With your other hand, wrap a zip-tie around the middle and secure it. Don’t pull it too tightly yet.
- With your zip-tie holding all your ribbon together, adjust each piece to create the look you want. You may need to pull them in different directions to fill empty spaces in your bow or adjust which layers are showing through better than others.
- When all your ribbons are laying exactly where you want them, pull the zip-tie as tight as you can and cut off the end.
- Choose one of your ribbons to cut an extra length to wrap around the middle. You’ll want to use one of your thinner pieces, but it needs to be wide enough to cover the zip-tie completely.
- Wrap your extra ribbon length around your bow and tie it into a square knot on the back. After your square knot is pulled tightly, you can either trim the ends or fluff them out to be a part of your bow.
To watch this bow tying method in action, check out this video below by The Shabby Creek Cottage.
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