How to Make Bows for your Cheer or Dance Team: A Tutorial
There are plenty of great websites and catalogs where you can purchase hair bows for your cheer or dance team. Bow prices range from $5.00-$20.00 depending on the type and size of the bow, how many layers of ribbon or material is used, and if any customization is requested. This may seem like a small price to pay to look neat and professional, but if you multiply that price by 20 or more team members, it starts to look a lot bleaker. If your team members can afford to pay for bows out of pocket or you have enough money in your activity fund, then by all means save yourself the time and effort and go for the purchase. But, if you coach in a low-income area or have parents who are unwilling to foot the cheer bills, then making your own bows might be your best option. I have been making bows for my cheerleading squads for the past three seasons and saving a ton of money. Granted, I make up for in time what I save in money, but that is a small price to pay in difficult times when there is no room for frivolous purchases.
I have consistently spent as little as $50.00 to outfit 20 girls with hair bows. Compare that by noting you will spend $100.00 - $400.00 on bows for 20 team members at prices ranging from $5.00 - $20.00 per piece. With this amount of savings, what do you have to lose? With a bit of craftiness anyone can make a cheer bow!
Step One: Inspiration
Step Two: Shopping!
You can find some good deals on wholesale ribbon just by doing a Google search. I, unfortunately, wait until the last minute to decide if I am going to make or buy bows and by the time I decide, I don't have the time to wait for an order to ship. I usually end up making my ribbon purchases at Michaels or JoAnn Fabrics. I make sure I have some coupons available to defray the costs, especially if I can't find any ribbon on sale that fits my purposes.
Supplies that you will need:
a good pair of fabric scissors (I recommend Fiskars)
a base ribbon in school colors
a smaller width layering ribbon in school colors
a layering ribbon in a flashy fabric (if you choose to make a three-layered bow)
a small width ribbon for the middle of the bow
plain hair ties or barrettes
a sewing machine or alternately a hot glue gun or good fabric glue
pins (if using a sewing machine)
a liquid fray guard for bow ends
1. Cut each of your ribbon layers in to strips. I normally make my bows 1 1/2 feet at most, but you can certainly make your ribbon longer if you see fit.
2. Now that your ribbons are cut, you have two options: sew or glue.
Sewing - pin your ribbon layers together, as in the above photo, and sew them together on a sewing machine.
Gluing - Use a good fabric glue, like Alene's, and glue each layer together. Allow to try overnight before moving on to the next step.
3. Cut a 3 or 4 inch piece of floral wire and set it aside.
4. Take one of your ribbons and lay it out. You are going to cross one end over the other.
5. Now pinch the center at the top of the bow, as pictured, and wrap the floral wire around the middle of your bow twice. Now, take your barrette or hair band and attach it to the bow by wrapping the floral wire through, finishing the ends off by twisting the wire and folding it down so that the ends do not poke out.
6. Adjust your bow so it sits attractively and is even on both sides.
7. Take your small ribbon to cover the wire, cut about 3 inches, enough to wrap around from the front to the back of the bow one time. Wrap the ribbon around, making sure that you cover the wire and the hair tie.
8. Hot glue the ends of the small ribbon together. Press down on the ribbon securely for several seconds and then set it aside to dry. Continue on to your next bow.
9. Once the hot glue has dried, it is time to cut the bow ends. You can choose to slant your ends or V notch them. If you choose to V notch you may want to use a stencil.
10. Lastly, apply your fray guard to the cut ends to prevent your ribbon from unraveling.
You've just created a cheer bow!