Introduction: Making Miniature Bows
This tutorial will show you how to make a simple miniature bow for Christmas presents, wreaths, furniture, or where ever you need a bow. The process is simple and straight forward. Be sure to check out the Mini Bow Making Jig.
Step 1: What You Will Need
You will need the following items to make a bow:
2. A small sewing needle for beads
3. Thread the same or similar color to the bow
4. A small pearl bead about 1/8" or 3mm in diameter (optional)
6. Scrap piece of 110lb card stock 1/2" square
Step 2: Making the Bow Backer
We make the bow backer from some scrap 110lb card stock. I use the
waste material from previous projects. Cut a square approximately 1/2". Use a colored marker that is the same or similar color to the ribbon being used. Color in the backer. There is no need to cover from end to end as you will trimming off the excess. Make sure it is about 80% covered. Use a needle and thread. The thread should be as close as possible to the ribbon color. Tie a not in the thread. Push the needle from the white side through so the colored side is facing up towards the bow. Put the bow backer to the side for now.
Step 3: Anchor the Ribbon, Critical Step!
When creating the bow you start by using the thumb tack to lock down the end of the ribbon. This allows for maintaining tension on the ribbon which results in accurate sized loops. A larger loop looks awkward on the bow. The result is an accurately sized bow where all the loops are exactly the same size.
Step 4: Looping and Twisting the Ribbon Around the Posts
Wrap the ribbon around the brass pins while twisting it. Keep wrapping the ribbon around the posts back and forth with the pin passing through the center of the ribbon and repeating the process.
The ribbon follows the following twisting motion:
1. Twist the ribbon around the first post
2. Twist the inside, facing the post, so it is facing up
3. Pass the pin through the center of the ribbon
4. Turn the side facing the post down toward the base of the jig or down
5. Wrap it around the post and twist the side down so its facing up
6. Pass the pin through the middle
7. repeat for each loop you want the bow to have.
This feature allows you to determine how many loops the bow will have. Then when the bow was completely looped you would remove it using this slotted locking sponge tweezers or forceps.
Step 5: Lift the Bow Off the Jig
This took me a while to find the best solution. I had tried many ways to hold the bow so it could be stitched and keep everything in position. I had even gotten to the point of making my own tweezers. I decided to invest one last effort in searching for a tool that would work. So I searched for slotted tweezers and accidentally ran across these forceps and they are the perfect answer to the problem.
They are called sponge forceps and are used in the piercing industry as part of that process. The full description is "Stainless Steel Homestat Slotted (open end) Sponge Clamp / Forceps with Ratchet Body Piercing Tool".
These are available in a locking design with an open center top and bottom in the front which has a slot for the needle. The forceps can be purchased on Amazon and are under $3.00 each. So I bought 2 in case I screwed one up.
After the first use I realized the serrated faces were going to be a problem. I mixed up some epoxy and filled these serrations in. Then folded a piece of sandpaper and pulled the epoxied faces over sandpaper until they were smooth and parallel. They worked perfectly after smoothing the faces.
Step 6: Creating the Bow Center
Push the needle through the center of the bow. Look for the hole left behind from the center pin in the jig. The jig center pin is larger than the needle so this part is easy. Getting the center in the right position is critical in having bow be symmetrical. An asymmetrical bow looks really bad.
Step 7: Spacing the Loops Around the Center
Remove the forceps to position the loops around the center needle. Pull the needle through one time only so it acts like a pivot point for the loops to rotate around. A circle is 360° so the position the loops equally based on dividing the number of loops into into 360 degrees. For example 4 loops are 90° apart, 8 loops are 45° apart, and so forth. Then once they are in the final position, increase the clamping force and lock the forceps into position. With the bow clamped into position its much easier to push the needle through the ribbon stack.
Step 8: Locking the Loops With a Few Stiches
Re-clamp the bow in the forceps and stitch up the center. This locks the loops into position. Make X style stitches. 3 stitches is minimum, up to 5 or 6 is better. The point is to lock the loops from moving once they have been located. It also holds the bow tightly together in center making it appear authentic.
Step 9: Trim Off the Bow Backer and Ribbon Tails
Trim the bow backer on all 4 sides. Use the scissors and move the loops under so they are out of the way when trimming. Be sure to trim away the areas that are white leaving the color swatch behind.
Trim off the ends of the remaining 2 pieces of ribbon. Cut them at and angle so the disappear from site.
Sometimes I have made these pieces longer so I could wrap them around the wreath. I changed that thinking after I had tried wrapping the wreath with ribbon first and then adding a separate bow. In my opinion the looked better when they are done separately.
Step 10: The Final Bow
Once the bow is finished it can be added to presents, wreaths or any other area you need a bow.
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