How to turn almost anything into a freakin’ huge bow for wedding decor or fashion!

Guestpost by Liz Gubernatis on Aug. 9th

two bows

Have you ever looked a big fluffy gift bow and thought "How the hell do they make that?" Well, it turns out you can totally DIY gift bows — nice, big, fluffy ones out of almost any paper good. I'm going to make one out of a map. But you can make them from fancy ribbon, of course, or from recycled materials, too — comic strips from the Sunday paper, ribbon from an old VHS tape, pages of an outdated calendar, anything you can cut into strips and twist into loops can be made into a gorgeous bow.

Once you've mastered this tutorial, you can use these custom bows as aisle décor, table settings or centerpieces, or secure them to headbands or barrettes and wear them in your hair. (Wait till you see how it looks in my husband's hair!)

Materials and Tools

  • Map(s), or whatever you'd like to use
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Glue
    or double-sided tape

Step 1: Determine the finished size of your bow. I want a regular-sized bow — about 4 inches across (that'll be Bow A). I also want a huge effing bow, fit for a freakin' appliance-sized box — about 12 inches across (that'll be Bow B).

Step 2: Width of bow should increase with size of bow. So, Bow A will use strips about ¾" wide. Bow B will use strips about 2" wide. Easiest way to make all the strips the same width is to fold the map like an accordion and then cut down the folds.

accordian fold the map

Step 3: Cut strips of each of these lengths: (Bow A) 3 strips that are 12", 3 strips that are 11", 3 strips that are 10" and 1 strip that is 4 inches. (Bow B) 3 strips that are 32", 3 strips that are 30", 3 strips that are 28", 3 strips that are 26", and 1 strip that is 12" to scale up.

strips all lined up

Step 4: Do the twist! Twist each strip and secure the ends to each other and the center of the bow loop with double-sided tape. Form the single strip into a single loop.

twist loops and tape

Step 5: Now stack and tape together! Each set of loops should stack and form a complete ring of the bow. Offset the next size smaller ring to nestle in between the spokes of the first ring. Repeat until you add the single loop.

stacking loops

Step 6: Bask in the gorgeousness!

bows stacked


i liked it so I put a bow on it

I liked it, so I put a bow on it — with apologies to Beyonce.

Basically all those amazing tutorials out there for how to make bows teach you a basic, regular-sized bow, and advise you can "scale up" but don't really say how. You'll want to go wider, and go longer, and maybe add a whole extra row. The good news is, you still only need three strips of any particular length, and the reason I'm using maps is that I can get crazy long strips out of one map.

I added an extra row to my big bow mostly because I wanted it "freakin' huge" so your mileage may vary — in general three sets of longer strips that are shorter than one another by about the width of your bow, plus one strip that is as long as you intend the finished bow to be wide. Vaguely algebra-in-real-life. Bottom line – there's no wrong size to make a bow. You can always just add more strips if it's not looking fluffy enough to you.

If you're concerned about all the double-sided tape piling up, you can secure the whole pile of loops with a brad. I'd still use the tape to make the loops in the first place, though.

Your Turn!

What will you be putting a bow on it? Tell us how you'll make this project your own in the comments below.

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About Liz Gubernatis

Liz is a Pepsi addict who married her sword-wielding urban Viking (who probably inspired the “What’s in YOUR wallet?” commercials) on 1-1-11. Originally from Nebraska, she spent some time on the East Coast but left before it made her hard-hearted, landing back in the Midwest, where she thrives. She sews, paints, cooks, bakes, plays with paper, computers and cats, loves chocolate, peanut butter, and popcorn, and frequently purges her apartment to make room for more fabric, craft supplies, and projects to play with.