I never knew if I was gonna be a bow mom until I had Maggie. And I am SHOCKED to report that I am. But! I’m pretty specific about my bows. They can’t be overly large. Or girly. Or frilly. Or fussy. I looked all over and finally realized it was just going to be best to make some myself. I made Maggie this little gold bow and got approximately twelve thousand questions about it, so I figured you all might like to join the fun! If you’ve got little girls (or heck, boys — Henry has definitely been known to sport Maggie’s bows from time to time) who need some decking out, here are five ways to make bows for little girls (with free patterns!).
Here’s my number one trick for making bows for Mags. Somebody mentioned this to me a few months back and it’s a game changer. Instead of finding elastic or sewing a band to go around baby’s head, slice up some nylons! Yes, for real!!! I had no idea this was a thing. Buy a pair of nylons or tights the same color as your baby’s hair (or contrasting if you want to see the band more). Cut off the toes. Cut strips of nylon each about 3/4″, and give them each a little stretch. Boom! A bow band. They’re very stretchy, hold their shape, and they’re the only thing that doesn’t leave a mark on Maggie’s head or hair.
Now on to the bows! They each use a nylon band, so print out the template, cut up some nylons, and let’s get to it. Here are some things you’ll need:
- our printable bow template (Download for free at the end of this post!)
- various fabric scraps (denim, leather, pleather, felt, stiff cotton, etc.)
- Fabric Fusion glue (you could also try hot glue but the fabric glue will last longer)
Bow #1: The Diagonal Bow I like making this one out of felt. The fabric just holds the shape nicely and looks kind of vintagey and fun. (Don’t try this one with a thinner fabric — it needs something with a bit of stiffness to it. Leather or pleather would also work!) Trace and cut the shapes from #1 on the template onto your fabric. Gather the larger piece in your fingers at the center, making a couple of pleats in the felt. Place a dot of glue on the front of the pleats. Place the smaller strip of fabric and place the center of it over the glue. Flip the two pieces over and, keeping the pleats pinched between your fingers, place a nylon band over the center of the back of the bow. Wrap the smaller piece of fabric around the nylon and glue the two ends together so that they slightly overlap, closing the bow. Allow the glue to dry.
Bow #2: The Maggie I’m calling it The Maggie because it’s her signature look! She wears these all the time. This one is another that needs a stiff fabric, and I love making these out of metallic leather scraps. They’re super simple and take less than a minute. Trace the #2 template onto the back of your leather and cut it out. Tie the leather around the nylon band and pull it taut. Adjust and twist the leather in the knot so that both sides of the bow are showing the metallic side. That’s it! So easy and so cute.
Bow #3: The Faux Bow This one even fooled my mom. It looks like you tied a perfect bow but it’s a trick. This one works nicely with a thinner fabric that has some stiffness. Cut the three pieces from template #3. Place a few dots of glue on the front of the piece with pointy corners. Then take the longest piece and fold the angled corners toward the center. Place this piece on the glue, with the angled corners face down. Then follow the same steps from Bow #1 (pinch into pleats, wrap the small piece around the front, add the nylon band, and glue the small strip in the back).
Bow #4: The Bow Tie This one works really well with a stiffer fabric, leather, or faux leather. You need something that will hold its shape on the outer edges of the bow tie. Cut the two shapes from template #4 and follow the same steps from Bow #1 and #3 (pinch into pleats, wrap the small piece around the front, add the nylon band, and glue the small strip in the back).
Bow #5: The Classic Tied Ribbon Bow This one is super simple and it’s the only one we didn’t include on the pattern sheet, because it’s just a strip of ribbon or fabric. For this yellow bow, we cut a strip of velvet that was 12″ x 3/4″ and just tied it right around the nylon. Tip: Don’t knot it around the nylon before you create the bow; it makes the whole thing a little too bulky. After you tie the bow, fluff it up so it’s nice and even, and snip the ends of the ribbon or fabric so they have clean pointy ends.
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So there you have it! I’m way down the bow rabbit hole and have actually gotten so much joy from putting these together for Mags. She has taken to putting them on her stuffed animals, her slippers, her brother, and anything within a 5-foot radius. I’d love to know your favorite, and if you try making any! xoxo