I like to wrap everything first, then pull out all the ribbons, and floral picks, and little ornaments, and the glue gun and then GET BUSY!
For the little kids, I don't spend a lot of time making their presents fancy because let's be honest, they don't really care - it's all about the toys. But even for theirs, I cannot bring myself to stick a store-bought bow in the middle and call it done. I still want them to look pretty under the tree. By adding one more bow or two, it makes them just a little more special.
I LOVE the way the one on the top right turned out. It's just three store bought bows and three leaves off a floral pick. If I'm getting out the hot glue gun, then everything goes on with hot glue. I love that stuff! And those sticky backs on the bows are worthless. :-)
My Mama taught me how to make my own bows when I was little, and you can make them so much bigger and prettier (and color coordinated) than the bows-in-a-bag. See....
Bow making is one of those critical life skills, so here's my attempt at a tutorial. (I tried to crop out the huge pile of fancy bits and trash scattered on the floor around me.)
Florist ribbon is the best and easiest to work with. It's needs to be a little stiffer than regular satin, but not so stiff that it splits when you pull it.
The first step is to make a loop with the ribbon. If there is a shiny side to your ribbon, make sure that it faces outward. My loop in for this bow was probably about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
Next, tape the loop closed on the inside - don't worry about seeing the tape - you won't when you're done. I use plain old scotch tape on the inside and wrap it around the edges a bit.
Once it's secure, start wrapping ribbon around and around the loop. The more times around you wrap it, the fuller your bow will be. 8 - 10 times is usually more than sufficient.
Pinch the loop in the middle and cut out a v-shaped notch on each side. Don't cut all the way through - make sure you leave a little bit of ribbon in the middle so it's still all one piece.
Take a twist-tie and wrap it around the middle of the loop - it fits nicely in those notches you just cut. If you have long twistie things you can leave the ends long and use that to secure it to the package later. I don't usually do that (refer to my hot glue reference above).
(I couldn't crop out the background in this one. I'm normally quite tidy... ahem.)
Once the middle part is secured, you start to pull and twist. Start on one side and beginning with the inside loop, pull out one layer of ribbon. Pull it towards the right, and while you're doing that twist it upwards (pic 3). Pull the next interior loop out towards the left (pic 4), and twist up while your pulling. At this point, it should look like pic 5. Put some muscle in the pulling part - you want to make sure the loops stay where you put 'em. Continue doing this, alternating directions until one side is complete (pic 6). Then turn the loop around and repeat on the other side.
Your first attempt(s) may be a bit flat, but don't worry, you will get the hang of it.
When you're done, it will look like this. At this point, you'll probably want to "fluff" it a bit and position the loops to so it is full all over.
Here's one that's been fluffed and glued onto a present.
And here's a whole bunch awaiting the hot glue treatment!
Pretty, pretty, pretty!
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