Thursday, March 24, 2011

Friday Focus: Bows's a love/hate thing.  So often, a bow is the perfect finishing touch on a card.  But I know that my group of church cardmakers run the other way from cards with bows.  There are very few people out there who feel that they can make a perfect bow. 

But there are so many ways to do it - and so many tools available to help - here are just a few ways that I do it. 

Your "bow" doesn't actually have to be a "bow".  Sometimes a simple knot serves the purpose.

All the focus on this card is on the cross - the layers around it are minimal - so I just used a quick "knot".

I have resolved with my Friday Focus posts to not assume anything.  I can't tell you how many times I have been crafting with others - they do something in their usual way - and I look at them in astonishment because their "usual" way had never occurred to me.  It seems that even with the basics, we all have things to learn.  So, here is basic knot-tying (with a tip as to how to make these bows go different ways!)

Cut a piece of ribbon slightly longer
than the piece it is going around.

Wrap each end around to the back
and adhere with a piece of tape.

Cut another piece of ribbon and start
your knot. Tie the first part of the knot.
Realize that for a knot, you do the
same "twist" twice.  For the first
"twist", tie the knot in the way
that is comfortable for you (as if you
were tying your shoe). 
To get the "bow" to lie this way, do
your second twist in the "uncomfortable"
way.  (I know this type of knot has an
actual name - I just prefer to think
comfortable/uncomfortable).  For
me, comfort is the right loop up and over
and then back under the left.  Bringing
the left side up and over is awkward.

If you would rather the "bow" lays
along your ribbon this way, just
do both "twists" in the way that
is comfortable for you - like
you are knotting a shoe.

BUT - before you do this, check
out the next tutorial on the
"cheater's bow".
In fairness, I have to tell you that with thick ribbon, tying a knot can often get quite bulky.  If you have a good adhesive, just tie a single "twist" in that second piece of ribbon (not the two twists that comprise a knot).  Pick the good side of your knot, apply adhesive to the other side (Zip Dry is my favorite) and glue it on!

This is a quick and easy way to get the "bow" that lies in the same direction as the ribbon (see last picture above).  We use this A LOT in our church cardmaking group because it is so very simple and doesn't scare people like bows do.

FYI: the pearls match perfectly IRL!

Cut a piece of ribbon longer than
the panel - don't skimp on this piece
because you will be tying part
of a knot in it so you need some
extra length.

Tie the first part of a knot - leave it loose.

Thread a small piece of ribbon through
the knot before you pull it tight.
(The kraft ribbon is just so you can see it)

Pull it tight.  Trim it. So very easy!
You can manipulate it at this point, e.g.
if you want it at a jaunty angle, you can
pull on the top part on one side and the
bottom on the other side.

Wrap the ends around the back
of the panel and tape them.

Bunny Ears Bow:
Now it's time to get into actual bows.  To be honest, this is the first time that I have used this type of bow (I hope it doesn't show!).  But at our last church cardmaking gathering, I was demonstrating the Bow-Easy and a couple of ladies said they could tie perfect bows without a Bow-Easy.  Huh??  I'd never heard of anyone casually saying they could tie bows.  It turns out they simply used that child's method - the bunny ears bow.  It works!

Make two loops from your ribbon.

Cross over like you are starting to
tie your shoe.

Finish the simple knot.
When you pull the bow, don't
worry that it gets really big - you
can always pull the ends and
shrink it again.

For my finished card (see first photo in this section),
I took the ends of the bow around back for a different
look.  You could just as easily trim the ends and
adhere the bow as above.

TOOL #1: Magic Bow Maker
I recently stumbled on this tool while reading blogs.  Lee at Stampingleeyours sells them through her blog.  Here's the tool:

I have seen people rig their own version of this tool.  I recently saw a picture of someone who used two pencils, rubber bands and a mesh paper holder.  But Lee's tool is quite reasonably priced and it has two huge advantages: (1) you can easily change the size of the bow by simply moving the pegs and (2) she has a really nice pictorial tutorial that comes with it.

One thing that I particularly like about Lee's tool is the ease of making double bows. It's a nice, unique touch on this simple card.
I am walking a fine line here as I don't want to steal from Lee's instructions as the instructions are part of her product, yet I also want you to realize how simple the tool is to use.  So I am going to give a basic overview, but realize that her instructions go over this in explicit detail - so if mine doesn't make sense, don't fault hers!!

I am also concerned about my instructions, because one of the major pros of this product is that I find it more intuitive than the next product that I am going over - the Bow-Easy.  So, if my instructions don't seem intuitive to you - please realize that Lee's will!

Place the pegs the appropriate
distance apart.  Wrap the ribbon
around the pegs.  In this case,
I wrapped twice, but you can
do a regular bow or even wrap
more times!

Wrap the center of the bow by
bringing one side down, to the back...
...and over the top to the front.

Then simply tie the two ends together.

Here it is from the front.  Just lift it
off the top of the pegs and adhere
it to your card.

TOOL #2: Bow-Easy
The Bow-Easy is a very popular tool right now.  I purchased mine a year or so ago from an E-Bay seller that sells nothing but Bow-Easy's.  But if you do a Google search you will find that many, many on-line stores now carry it.

I have gotten used to using and find it a VERY handy tool.  However, it is not particularly intuitive.  When I take it to my monthly church cardmaking gatherings, I have to re-teach it each month.  So if you don't make many bows, you may not find this at all easy to remember and do.

You need two "arms" to make a bow.  See the upper left of the picture below - those two pegs make a bow.  Then see the upper right part.  There is a big bow you can make - but one of the arms is split into two other "arms" - you can use those to make a smaller bow.  So, by using space effectively, you can make seven different sized bows with this one tool.  (FYI: There is a bigger bow-easy that makes larger bows particularly for wreaths and flower arrangements.)

I'm going to do my best with instructions here - but if you have a new Bow-Easy and want instructions, I would highly recommend you go to YouTube and find a video of the process - it's much easier to see!

Hold the end of the ribbon on the left
side of the two arms that are the
right size for your bow.

Loop your ribbon around the
two arms.  I don't cut the ribbon until
this point - I cut it just beyond the

Take the part of the ribbon that the
previous picture shows dangling
to the right - and poke it down the
crease between the two arms.

Pull it around the back-side and up
again through the crease.
This may seem complicated, but
the next picture shows what you
have accomplished...

This is the backside of what you
have just done.  By pulling the ribbon
through the crease and around, you
have formed your bow!

Now we need to anchor the ribbon.
You would think that you need a
leg of the bow pointing down
and to the right as shown above.
But for a brief moment, you have
to suspend logic.  Instead of
going down and to the right,
you do exactly the opposite...

Pull your ribbon to the LEFT side
from the bottom to the TOP, so
it's headed totally the wrong way!!
Don't pull it tight.  See the loop that
is formed.  Guess what happens
when you now pull the ribbon through
that loop....

It's headed the right way!

Pull the bow tight BEFORE you
take it off the Bow-Easy.  This is
NOT a normal bow and you will
not be able to tighten it once
you pull it off the Bow-Easy.

FYI: I have seen it mentioned that the Bow-Easy is a problem if you have ribbon printed on one side.  If you wrap the loops so that the print is appropriate on the outside, the legs of the bow are actually backwards.  I haven't found this to be a problem - just before you pull it tight, flip the legs over to the correct side.  When you pull it tight, they stay where they belong!

If you have made it all the way through this post, I do hope you have found at least one useful tip or tool.  As I said at the very beginning - bows are a love/hate thing.  We all love them on our cards, but most of us HATE doing them.  Hopefully this post will help turn you into a bow-lover!

Lemon/Aqua/Kraft Cross:
  • Stamps: Sweet 'n Sassy digi
  • Ink: copics
  • Paper: Papertrey Kraft, Lemon Tart, Everyday Blessings dsp
  • Accessories: Stampin' Up white taffeta and scallop border punch
  • Challenges: the sweetest thing Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge (turned sideways)

Sweet Kraft and Pink Bunny:
  • Stamps: Ichiyo bunny (I have no idea where I got this), Papertrey Tags for Spring sentiment
  • Ink: Stampin' Up Crumb Cake, a light pink copic
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Crumb Cake, Pink Pirouette
  • Accessories: EK Success corner punch, Stampin' Up Pretty in Pink Taffetta and embossing folder, Michaels brand pearl flourish

Three Crosses:
  • Stamps: DRS Designs (crosses), Our Craft Lounge Prayers and Blessing (sentiment)
  • Ink: Stampin' Up Elegant Eggplant
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Elegant Eggplant, Certainly Celery
  • Accessories: Offray ribbon, Stampin' Up embossing folders, Stampin' Up gems colored with copics
  • Challenges: clean&simple Fall To Layout and Pals Paper Arts: Embossing

Calla Lillies Easter:
  • Stamps: Calla Lillies digi from Wax Fruit Company
  • Ink: copics
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Pear Pizzazz, black, Bazzill white
  • Accessories: Stampin' Up Rose Grosgrain, Magic Bow Maker

Springtime Vintage Cross:
  • Stamps: Verve Everlasting Life (cross), sentiment unknown  (FYI: the Verve set has spectacular sentiments - they were just all too big for the circle.)
  • Ink: Stampin' Up Always Artichoke
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Very Vanilla, Always Artichoke, Pear Pizzazz, Baja Breeze, Springtime Vintage dsp
  • Accessories: misc scallop and circle punches, Stampin' Up Baja seam binding, Stampin' Up mini flower punch (in punch trio), Stampin' Up pearls


  1. Wow! What a fabulous tutorial on bows! Your PPA card is just stunning! I love the bling, as well as the texture! Thanks for playing at Pals Paper Arts!

  2. I really enjoyed reading your bow tutorials! And your cards are just wonderful! Thanks for joining us this week at Sketch Frenzy Friday!

  3. What a marathon post!!! And ... how kind that you shared all this helpful info! You are so thoughtful. Would you mind if I put a link on my blog ... to direct people here? Hugs xxaxx

  4. Kim - what a fabulous tutorial for bows!! Now, as a person who has a difficult relationship with bows - this is a great help, and I've bookmarked this page for future reference :) Thank you.

    Your cards are just gorgeous - with such a lovely selection of designs.

  5. Dear Kim. Thanks so much for your awesome tutorials. That's so great to have it all in one place. And I love the card with the crosses. So clever and beautifully done. Thanks again for sharing all of it.

    Inky hugs, Pauline


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