How to Make Bows

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique, Pinwheel, Surround Loops - and how to stack them! {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Have you been wondering how to make bows like the pros? Britt from Charlie’s Halo shares her techniques to get beautiful, high quality bows. See techniques on the Twisted Boutique Bow, Pinwheel Bow, Spikes, and Surround Loops!


Hello! I’m Britt from Charlie’s Halo. You might remember my other tutorials on adding marabou, bottle caps and detachable centers to hair bows. This time I will be teaching my specialty, stacked boutique bows. I have been making bows for over 2 years and I’m entirely self taught. There are many different techniques used by different bow makers, but in this tutorial I will cover the basics and techniques that I use. I made 3 different styles of stacked boutique bows using the Halloween Candy Corn, Dino-mite and Lil Sister Ribbon Mixes from The Ribbon Retreat.

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique, Pinwheel, Surround Loops - and how to stack them! {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Each Ribbon Mix includes 5 different ribbons, expertly matched in various widths. The Ribbon Retreat carries a large selection of ribbon mixes. They are wonderful because it takes the guess work out of matching colors and sizes. It’s already done for you! Check out the ribbon mixes by clicking the link.

How to Make Bows: Ribbon Mixes {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

What widths work for what bows and layers?

For stacked bows, 1.5” is often used for base bows and spikes, ⅞” is commonly used for base bows, topper bows, and spikes, ⅝” can be used for bow surrounds and spikes, and ⅜” is great for bow surrounds, wrapping bows, lining clips and adding other small embellishments to your bows.

I also used the following basic tools: Needle, Heavy Duty Thread, Cardboard, Scissors, Lighter, Ruler, Hot Glue, Straight Pin and Stiffener.

~ How to Make Bows ~

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique, Pinwheel, Surround Loops - and how to stack them! {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

This fabulous Halloween bow is the first style we will make.

When making stacked bows, the most basic skill you will need to learn is the ever so famous Twisted Boutique Bow. This bow can take some time to master, but with some practice, it will become second nature. I make twisted boutique bows using a cardboard template that is easy to make and economically practical. In this tutorial I will be using 5”, 6” and 7” templates. Here is how to make them:

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique Bow {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Find a piece of sturdy cardboard and cut it to the width you would like your template to be and make sure it’s at least 3” long.

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique Bow {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Measure to the middle of your template and cut out a ¼” strip that is about 1.5” or so long as show in the picture.

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique, Pinwheel, Surround Loops - and how to stack them! {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

For this tutorial you will need templates in 5”, 6” and 7”.

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique, Pinwheel, Surround Loops - and how to stack them! {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Now is time to use your new template! If this is your first twisted boutique bow, I would suggest trying with a 5” template and use ⅞” as I’ve done in the picture. You will need 23” of ⅞” ribbon. This will make a 3” bow. I trim and seal my ribbon ends after I’ve sewn my bow, but it’s okay to do it before you make your bow as well. You will also need an alligator clip, needle and thread and a straight pin.

Measurements:
5” Template – 23” Ribbon – 3” Bow
6” Template – 28” Ribbon – 4” Bow
7” Template – 33” Ribbon – 4.5 – 5” Bow

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique Bow {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Use an alligator clip to hold your ribbon while you wrap it around your template. Clip the ribbon in the center of the ‘middle opening’ and the end of the template.

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique Bow {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

After wrapping the ribbon around your template two times, turn the template over and push a straight pin through the center of the ribbon as shown.

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique Bow {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique Bow {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

At this point your are ready to remove the ribbon from the template. Carefully pull it off of the template, but do not remove the pin.

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique Bow {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

The next step is the very most important part of making twisted boutique bows. Hold your ribbon with the tail facing up, and maintain pressure on the back of the pin. Start by pulling the tail and bottom ribbon to the left. When you do this your ribbon will begin to form an ‘X’.

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique Bow  {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Pull the loops to form a uniform ‘X’. When you look at the back of your bow, your ribbons should be aligned horizontally. The above pic shows a bow ready to be a creased.

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique Bow {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

I crease my bows by sewing them. Using a strong needle and heavy duty thread with the ends knotted together. Stitch through the center of the bow making sure that the ‘X’ does not lose form.

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique Bow {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Bring your needle and threads through the ribbon and pull it tight.

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique Bow {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Wrap your bow a couple of times, knot and finish off.

I like to stiffen my twisted boutique bows before and after stacking them. I spray them with stiffener and use a fan to help them dry fast while I make the rest of the bow.

This is the same technique I used for all widths of ribbon and with my templates.

How to Make Bows: How to Make Spikes {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Another part of stacked bows are spikes. You can use any width of ribbon to make spikes, for this Halloween bow I will be using 1.5”, ⅞” and ⅝” ribbon. I’ve measured each spike to 5”, V-cut and heat sealed the ends with a lighter. Then roughly arranged them in a pattern that I liked for this bow.

How to Make Bows: How to Make Spikes {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Here is how to make even spikes. Fold the spike in half to find the center and push your needle through. Do this with each spike and add them in an ‘X’ pattern as shown.

How to Make Bows: How to Make Spikes {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

This is how I have arranged my spikes. The next step is to crease them, just like a bow.

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique, Spikes, Pinwheel, Surround Loops - and how to layer them!  {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Now all of your parts are ready to stack! You will need a hot glue gun and glue sticks to attach your bow parts. For this Halloween bow I used a 4.5” boutique bow made with 1.5” ribbon for the base bow, 5” spikes, 3” boutique bow made with ⅜” ribbon for surrounds and a 3” boutique bow made with ⅞” ribbon for the topper.

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique, Spikes, Pinwheel, Surround Loops - and how to layer them!  {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

After gluing your bow parts together, it’s important that your bow be securely attached to a clip.

How to Make Bows: How to attach a clip to a bow  {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Use ⅜” ribbon and hot glue to attach a clip as shown. The Ribbon Retreat has how to attach a clip to a bow tutorial if you need more help.

Lets try another bow!

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique, Pinwheel, Spikes, Surround Loops - and how to layer them! {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

This awesome dinosaur bow is a different style, as you can see it’s not quite as tall.
Here’s how I made it!

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique, Pinwheel, Spikes, Surround Loops - and how to layer them! {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

I used 1.5” ribbon and a 5” template to make a 5” pinwheel. Unlike boutique bows, pinwheels will be just about the same size as the template used. I used 5” spikes made of 1.5” and ⅞” ribbon, surround loops made with ⅜” ribbon and 1.5” ribbon layered with ⅞” ribbon for the topper bow.

How to Make Bows: Pinwheel Bow {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

To make a pinwheel bow, start by clipping the end of your ribbon to your template as shown.

How to Make Bows: Pinwheel Bow {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Overlap the ribbon around the template.

How to Make Bows: Pinwheel Bow {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Stitch down the middle and remove the ribbon from the template as you go. Crease your pinwheel bow just like a twisted boutique bow, tighten, knot and finish off.

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique, Pinwheel, Spikes, Surround Loops - and how to layer them!  {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

To make a twisted boutique bow with layered ribbons, all you have to do is align then them and wrap them as shown. Be careful to keep them aligned while sewing and creasing.

How to Make Bows: Surround Loops {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

I made these surround loops by taking a rough estimate of the size I wanted each loop to be. I did not glue or sew anything, I simply make a sample loop to take a measurement.

How to Make Bows: Surround Loops {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

I decided 6.5” is the length I need for each surround loop to be for this bow.

How to Make Bows: Surround Loops {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

I measured the length of each loop to 6.5” and sewed them as I went along. You can also use hot glue.

After finishing your bow parts, you’re ready to finish your bow by stacking, wrapping and adding clip!

I have one more style to show you!

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique, Pinwheel, Spikes, Surround Loops - and how to layer them!  {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

This bow is a little bit bigger, because the base bow and topper bow are both made with 1.5” ribbon. Check out the bow parts that I used for this style!

How to Make Bows: Twisted Boutique, Pinwheel, Spikes, Surround Loops - and how to layer them!  {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

I used a 4.5” twisted boutique bow made with 1.5” and ⅞” ribbon, 6.5” spikes made with 1.5” and ⅞” ribbon, surround loops made with ⅜” ribbon and a 4” topper bow made with 1.5” ribbon.

After finishing your bows, it’s always a great idea to stiffen them so they keep their shape.

What I showed today is just the basics, you can make so many variations. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different widths of ribbon and prints. There is no wrong way to use ribbons in bow making. The Ribbon Retreat offers great ribbon mixes and convenience packs. They also have an amazing assortment of embellishments to choose from.

I hope this tutorial will inspire to you make beautiful bows. Check out my other tutorials for even more ideas on embellishing your new stacked bows! As always, it’s been a joy!


A HUGE thanks to Britt from Charlie’s Halo for showing us how to make bows! There are so many techniques to achieve the same bow, so it is wonderful to get an idea of which technique will work best for you.

In this tutorial, you don’t just learn how to make bows, but how to stack them and create boutique quality bows. There are lots of ways to embellish, so be sure to check out Britt’s other tutorials linked at the top of the post.

And, of course, The Ribbon Retreat carries a HUGE assortment of quality ribbon at awesome prices, wonderful customer service, and super fast shipping. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter to see all the great deals we have weekly!

And if you love this tutorial, sign up for our blog’s email subscription and be informed of the new posts we have multiple times a week – just go to our side bar to sign up. You can also join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to keep up with what’s going on here on the blog.

Again, many thanks to Britt! If you are not into making bows and love buying them, check out Charlie’s Halo for beautifully made bows and accessories. You will fall in love. :)

If you are interested in sharing your crafts or bow making skills, we are searching for crafty contributors. If you’re a craft blogger or bow maker who’d like to submit a tutorial of your own, visit our Project Submission Page to see all the details. We love all tutorials, and now especially love holiday ones! We make it worth your while! We love our contributors!

Have a great day! ~ Shirley, The Ribbon Retreat Blog Editor

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39 Comments

  1. Brandi schulz
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    ?? About how many bow can u make with each ribbon mix?!?

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted October 5, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Hi Brandi! You can get 2 stacked bows per mix and have some left over for other projects. Thanks! – Shirley :)

  2. Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    So lovely! Thx in advance for your tutorial, I was looking for several weeks! I will be honored to be calified by you, how can I send my new stacked bows photos?

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted October 5, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Hi Clarissa! We would love to see your bows! You can upload them to our FB page or email them to me at shirley@theribbonretreat.com. Have fun! – Shirley :)

  3. Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    This is seriously the BEST tutorial I have ever seen for the stacked boutique bow!!! I have been making bows for a while, but have avoided the big stacks because I could never figure out the twisted bow (which, I think is the most important!), but this tutorial helped me finally “get it!” Now I have a new technique to add to my bag of tricks. Thank you SO much!!! :-)

    Julie Cott
    Three Sweet Smiles Designs
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/ThreeSweetSmiles
    http://www.facebook.com/ThreeSweetSmiles

  4. Nicole
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the tutorial!

  5. Lynne J
    Posted October 5, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Was wondering how many inches of ribbon you used to make the pinwheel bow? Trying to make a 4 in one.

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted October 5, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Hi Lynne! 23″ to make the pinwheel bow. Thanks! – Shirley :)

  6. Ann
    Posted October 6, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Love this tutorial! I tried to make the twisted boutique bow with the template you showed. I’m not really understanding how it forms the “x” as you mentioned. Mine forms an “x” but it is not a twisted “x” like your bow. I tried several times and still I’m not getting it. It would be AWESOME if you could post a video of what you mean by pulling the tail and bottom loop left. Thanks again for the great tutorial!! Love yall! :)

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted October 6, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

      Hi Ann! The hardest part about this bow is shaping it. It might help if you have a pin with a back on it like a lapel pin to keep the ribbons all together. Then you can freely move the ribbons around and play with it. Then the next hard part is keeping the shape while threading your needle through. It takes A LOT of practice! But it’s definitely doable! Let me know if the ribbon moving around the pin is what might be causing your problem. :) – Shirley :)

  7. Ann
    Posted October 7, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    That is a great idea! I will try it with a lapel pin. My loops always look like normal flat loops. Yours look perfect! I will continue to practice until I get them just right. My little girl recently decided she LOVED to wear bows so we’ve been making some almost every day! I’ve made the boutique style but I was never fully satisfied with my twisted bow. I’ll give it another whirl! Thank you so much. For the record, do you have to really shapen it and use the stiffener or does it really hold it’s place without it initially?

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted October 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      The ribbon in the back has to stay straight and the ribbons in front make the X. That should give them a little more bend in the loop. We have another technique to make this bow that is really easy for beginners, here is the link – http://www.theribbonretreat.com/blog/how-to-make-a-twisted-boutique-bow.html. This may work better for you until you master this technique. :) You can have a bow without stiffener, it can lose it’s shape over time though. With bows I have without stiffener, I just pull on the loops to get them back in place. :) Bow making is SO much fun! So fun that you have a little girl to make them for. – Shirley :)

  8. Corpi
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    LOvelyyyy… make me want to start making bows right away!!! THanks for the tutorial!

  9. sara
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    It was so beautiful.tnx

  10. Marcia Walters
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I accidentally hit the unsubscribe button and I don’t want to. Will you please see that I remain on email list. Thanks, Marcia Walters

  11. Kaylyn Martinez
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I have learned how to make beautiful bows from you thanks so much

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      That is wonderful!! Thanks Kaylyn! – Shirley :)

  12. Verde Menta Cotillon
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Muchas Gracias!!!

  13. Irmarie Gonzalez
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    I love this bow, it’s great!!

  14. Kate
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I am confused. On the dinosaur bow, the pin wheel…..how much ribbon are you using? If you go by the amount you have written down for the 5″ template its suppose to be 23″…..however, the 23″ does not wrap around the template 3 times as shown in the demonstration.
    Thanks!

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted April 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kate! Thank you so much for your question. Brittney suggests 27ish inches. Usually she uses a little extra and trims the ends after its sewn. I hope this helps! Have a wonderful day! :)

  15. Kyreen
    Posted May 23, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I’m looking forward to making one of these bows I’ve ordered ribbon in my husbands football team colours so when we go to the next game she’ll be a true supporter with a hair piece to match her outfit :)

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted May 23, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      Awesome! Your husband will be so proud with his team colors being proudly displayed in these adorable bows! Thanks for sharing Kyreen! Have a wonderful day!

  16. Angela
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this fantastic tutorial! These are the most comprehensive and helpful lessons I have found through all of my research on how to make boutique bows! I have tried and erred my way through the last several months and feel motivated to get started fresh again. You are very kind to help others with your time and talent. Peace.

  17. Posted July 11, 2013 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    I never thought that making bow is so easy. Thanks for sharing the step by step process of this beautiful task.

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted July 11, 2013 at 1:30 am | Permalink

      Hi Fiona! Thank you for your comment and for being a FABulous reader! Have a wonderful day! :)

  18. MABEL
    Posted July 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    hermosoooo me encanto gracias por compartirlo

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted July 22, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Thank you Mabel! :)

  19. Tashan
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Nice tutorial. Where do you buy ur ribbons from?
    I learnt mine from a different tutorial. But yours is more straight forward.

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Hi Tashan! Thank you for your comment! All of the ribbon used to create these awesome bows are from right here at The Ribbon Retreat. We have a huge selection for you to choose from. Have fun! Michelle :)

  20. Maria
    Posted October 13, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Oh my goodness, these are super adorable! Thank you, for your tutorial! Although I do not have a girl to accessorize, these would be perfect to make for my friend’s baby girls. :)

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted October 13, 2013 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      Hi Maria! Thank you so much for your compliment! These are super cute and so much fun to make. Have a great time making them for your friend’s cute little baby! Have a wonderful day! Michelle :)

  21. Lindsey
    Posted October 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Hi! I’ve been making bows for a few years and I do make stacked bows, however they are not twisty like yours. I have been sitting here following your directions step by step over and over and I am just NOT getting it. Grr! Super frustrating!!

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted October 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Hi Lindsey! Thank you for your comment, and I am so sorry it isn’t working out for you. I still find it frustrating at times to get my bows just right. I hope you were able to get it. Good luck Lindsey and let us know how your bows turned out. Have a good rest of your day! Michelle :)

  22. Linda Dixon
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    I am confused! In your directions for making the twisted boutique bow, you said to pull the tail and bottom ribbon to the left. Is the bottom piece of ribbon the one that is on the very bottom as I am holding the the assembled ribbon in my hand? Or, is the piece of ribbon directly behind the tail? As I am holding the ribbon in my hand after I remove it from the template, I count six pieces. Is it piece number 2 (behind the tail) or is it piece number six?

  23. Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    I love the idea of making a template, great tutorial thank you for sharing.

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted November 7, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Hi Debra! Thank you so much for your comment! So glad you like it!!!! Have a great day. Michelle :)

  24. Adrienne
    Posted December 12, 2013 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Hello! I really like the technique with the template she uses here, & have been pretty sucessful at using it! Does she have any other tutorials out for other kinds of bows?

    • Posted December 14, 2013 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      Hi Adrienne! Thank you so much for your comment. Yes, Brittney has some other super fun and cute hair bow tutorials here. You can also find more amazing hair bow and other hair accessory tutorials here. Thank you again and have so much fun exploring all of our fun, fun bows!
      Michelle :)

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