How to Make a Hair Bow

Aaaaaaah, so cute.

Why shell out $$$ for a set of cute bow barrettes at the mall when you can easily make identical ones yourself for way cheaper? Or even for free if you’re using up-cycled materials! All it takes is two squares of fabric, a little sewing, and a whole lot of folding. Make a bunch of them and wear them all at once to show off your awesome girliness.

You’ll need:

  • Two pieces of sturdy fabric (stretch knits won’t cut it for this project!). For the bow you’ll need a square of fabric that measures 9 ½ inches wide and 10 ½ inches long. You’ll also need a rectangular piece that measures 2 ½ inches wide and 3 ½ inches long for the little cincher part that goes in the middle. These measurements include ½-inch seam allowances to be on the safe side.
  • thread to match your fabric
  • scissors
  • sewing pins
  • a sewing machine
  • plain barrettes
  • extra-strength glue

Making the bow base

1. Fold the largest square of fabric in half lengthwise—if there’s a “right” side and a “wrong” or inside side to the fabric, fold it so only the wrong side is showing—and sew a straight stitch up side that doesn’t have the fold (we’ll refer to this as the side seam).

Step 1: Fold and sew.

2. After you stitch up the side seam, take two sewing pins and place one in each corner of fabric on the folded side. Turn the whole thing right-side-out.

Step 2: Pin the corners.

3. Grab both ends (corners) of the side seam and flip that side of the fabric over so those corners match up with the corners you pinned in the last step.

Step 3: Flip and align corners.

Your pins should now match up with the straight seam you made in step one like so:

After you get the side-seam edges lined up with the two pins, your side seam should be in the middle of the fabric square, instead of on the side. The scored line in this photo represents where the side seam should now be:

4. Fold the rectangle in half widthwise, and close the raw edges with a zigzag stitch. Turn it right-side-out again and set it aside for later.

Step 4: Sew the raw edges.

Making the bow cincher

Next we’re gonna make the little piece of fabric that cinches the bow. The cincher is basically made the same way the bow base is, just on a much smaller scale.

1. Fold the 3 ½ x 2 ½-inch piece of fabric in half lengthwise, and pin it. Run a zigzag stitch along the raw edges on the side to close it.Turn it right-side-out. You should now have this skinny tube-like piece of fabric.

2. Fold it in half again, right-sides together, and zig zag stitch the bottom edges closed. You should now have something that resembles a little loop of fabric.

Step 5: Fold the smaller fabric, pin, stitch, fold again, and stitch.

Putting it all together

1. Remember the bow base that we set aside earlier? Well, it’s time to bring it out again! First, rotate the zigzagged seam that you made in step six so it’s in the center of the square.

Step 1: Rotate the seam.

2. Take your thumb and index finger and pinch the middle of the square, sandwiching the seam that runs widthwise in the middle, to make a pleat. Repeat this accordian-style folding until you have all of the fabric pleated.

Step 2: Pleat the fabric.

3. Place two pins in the middle of the bow to secure the pleats.

Step 3: Secure the pleats with a pin.

4. Pinch the pleats together on one end of the bow and push them through the cincher loop.

Step 4: Pull the pleats through the loop.

5. At this point you can remove the pins that are holding the pleats in place. Continue pulling the fabric loop inwards until it reaches the center of the bow.

Step 5: Remove the pins and pull.

And there you have it! A ~perfect~ hair bow, minus any weird lopsided parts, floppiness, or other imperfections that seem to plague hair-bow crafters everywhere.

Now all you need to do is stick a blank hair barrette on the other side with a little super glue and you’re good to go! ♦


  • Susann February 13th, 2012 3:08 PM

    Such a lovely idea! Makes me want to make some bows ;)

  • rosiesayrelax February 13th, 2012 3:10 PM

    This is even cuter than a picture of a pig in wellingtons.

  • Ellie February 13th, 2012 3:11 PM

    WAY too adorable! Love the girls’ hair in the collage, too!

  • Marguerite February 13th, 2012 3:24 PM

    THIS IS SO CUTE! im am totally going to do this right now! :D

  • ironsides February 13th, 2012 3:32 PM

    this works for making clip-on bowties, as well!! just substitute the barrette with a ribbon that fits around your neck and a snap or hook closure!

  • queserasera February 13th, 2012 3:35 PM

    oooh so cute! very spank!-esque (:

  • Dayzee February 13th, 2012 3:37 PM

    I love your D.I.Y’s soo much, Marlena!

  • RockHatesMiriam February 13th, 2012 5:06 PM

    ooooooh…Theese are adorable! And the girls hair in the collage is amazing! :)

  • MissKnowItAll February 13th, 2012 6:05 PM

    I knew February was going to be a good month…

  • Hanne February 13th, 2012 6:24 PM

    I love your D.I.Y.’s as well Marlena! Bows will go perfectly with my many detachable collars I made with your other tutorial. I have so many clothes I don’t ever wear, but I’ve kept them for years because of the collar, and now I can make cute bows with the left over fabric from my collar-projects. It’s so easy I feel stupid because I didn’t think of it myself :)

  • floralgore February 13th, 2012 7:05 PM

    Finally I have learned how to do this :) thanks

  • Adrienne February 13th, 2012 7:17 PM

    Ahh this is amazing! I guess you could also use the bow as a bowtie or something. ;)

  • AllieBee February 13th, 2012 9:24 PM

    My TRADEMARK is the hairbow!!

  • SweetThangVintage February 13th, 2012 9:49 PM

    So I was gonna say ahhhhhhh so cute, then I realized that’s what the sub tittle said. -_-

    So I agree! haha

  • smilingrottenflesh February 13th, 2012 11:06 PM

    I don’t have any interest in wearing bows, but this how-to is impressively well done! :]

    Sweet gift for a friend.

  • nerdsteph February 14th, 2012 12:01 AM

    I’m obsessed with American Apparel’s bows, but broke as a joke! This is a super well made tutorial and I’m pumped to make like six tomorrow!! Thank you much.
    (:X (that’s me in my new bow!)

  • Miarele February 14th, 2012 3:32 AM

    Question: How do you make one like the girl with green streaks wears? Do you just add an extra fabric through the loop?

  • Izzy February 14th, 2012 4:01 AM

    I make hair bows out of sweet wrappers! All you have to do is get one or two roses wrapper, or something of that sort, and wrap them around a kirby grip. Then it looks like a quirky, colourful, bonkers hair bow!

  • chicanery February 14th, 2012 4:10 AM

    This is great, looks better than most bows that you can buy in shops! I’m definitely gonna try it!

  • fer February 14th, 2012 6:33 AM

    heyyyy! that’s Tabuchi in the picture! haha, awesome~

  • Rainbow Dash February 14th, 2012 9:01 AM

    oh my, thats awesome! I loove your tips Marlena!

  • isabellehungryghost February 14th, 2012 11:27 AM

    this is soo super lovely!,LAST_7_DAYS

  • mayaautumn February 15th, 2012 12:31 PM

    ooh NICE! It looks so easy! i will make one soon!!x

  • Nikilodeon February 18th, 2012 3:56 AM

    This looks so cool! Only I don’t have a sewing machine. Would it be possible to make this without one and just do everything by hand?

    • samicyanide February 28th, 2012 12:30 AM

      I’m sewing machine-less as well and I’ve found that, as long as you can sew in a decently straight line, you’ll be able to make an adorable bow. It’s a pretty forgiving technique and most of the time, you’re flipping the fabric inside out so no one will be able to see your stitches, just the product. I imagine that the hand-sewn method takes longer to do than it would if you had a machine, but it’s totally doable.

  • samicyanide February 28th, 2012 12:25 AM

    Wonderful tutorial! I’ve made two hairbows already and they look lovely.

  • Its_Bee March 3rd, 2012 5:43 AM

    This is the cutest idea!!

  • mangachic March 9th, 2012 11:18 AM

    Is there a way to do this without a machine? (I know the answer’s probably really obvious but i’m a newbie so…)

  • Plume May 11th, 2012 1:57 AM

    I’ve been making my own hair bows since they are so pricey at the stores. You can make them without a sewing machine or glue.

    Great hair bow tutorial. Thank you, Marlena!