Adding a bow to your wreath, lantern or mailbox is a great way to give your home decor a finished look. But with all the different types of ribbon out there, how do you know which one to choose? As a wreath making teacher, “How to choose ribbon for a bow?” is by far one of the most common questions I get asked. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about choosing the perfect ribbon for bows.
Color and Pattern
First, you’ll need to decide on the color of the ribbon. Color is usually the first thing you notice about a bow. You can choose ribbons that match the colors in your wreath or, if you feel adventurous, go for a contrasting color to add some visual interest. I start by choosing a “focal point.” This is where I pull my colors from, but I rarely use more than three colors. I feel more than that will be distracting or too busy. My focal point can be a sign, flower, wreath attachment or I can have a focal ribbon.
Next, I choose ribbon patterns. There are endless possibilities when it comes to patterned ribbon…try not to get overwhelmed. I don’t like to repeat patterns within a bow. For example, I usually avoid using two striped, two polka dot, two plaids, etc. NOTE, there are always exceptions! If you like how it looks…go with it. I look for patterns that may be in the focal piece. If there are sunflowers, I might look for a ribbon with similar sunflowers to carry the theme throughout the design. I also like to use solid colored ribbons. Solids help to tie the patterned ribbons together and help to accent them at the same time.
Types of Ribbon
To choose ribbon for a bow, you need to decide what type of ribbon you want to use. I recommend using ONLY wired ribbon to make bows. Wired ribbon is easier to shape and mold into bows that will stay fluffed. Decide what kind of “feel” you are wanting. For example, do you want a casual, rustic or more luxurious look? If possible, feel the ribbon. Note the texture and body of both the fabric and the wire. You want ribbon that has decent body and will hold its shape when you make a loop. The larger loop that you need, the more firm the ribbon needs to be to maintain shape. However, if you are a beginner, I recommend avoiding really stiff ribbon as well. You may find it difficult to work with until you get more experienced.
You’ll also want to decide on the width of the ribbon. A wider ribbon will make a fuller bow, while a thinner ribbon will create a more delicate look. Also if you are using a smaller ribbon, remember it will take more yardage to fill the same space as a larger one. I usually like to mix sizes, ie two 2.5″ ribbons with two 1.5″ ribbons. Another thing to think about… you will want your bow to be the appropriate scale to the item on which you plan to attach it. You wouldn’t want to use a 4″ ribbon for a bow on a “mini” wreath.
In conclusion, how to choose ribbon for a bow can seem like a daunting task. Give yourself some grace! I promise, it will get easier with practice. Even me, who’s made thousands of bows…I still have to try again on occasion. Armed with this guide, you’ll be able to confidently pick out the perfect ribbon for your next project. So go ahead and experiment with different types, colors, and patterns until you find the perfect combination for your bow!
You may also like to watch this video where I am at Dallas Market showing you how I choose ribbons for bow kits.
Need help with bow making? Read this blog post for help making a handmade bow!
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