Monday, March 14, 2011

How to Make a Bow Bouquet

It's a very common tradition at wedding rehearsals for the bride to carry a bouquet composed of the bows saved from her various bridal showers.  You can find directions for different ways to make this bouquet on websites like or  These instructions usually involve cardstock or a paper plate, either with bows stapled on to the flat plate, or with the plate made into a cone of some form.  Those plans seem much less sturdy than the option I'm about to describe to you, which treats the bows like flowers and is more on the attractive side of tacky.

You Will Need:
paper towel roll.  You could use a toilet paper roll, but that doesn't seem nice enough for a wedding rehearsal to me
white acrylic paint
bows saved from the bride's showers
extra satin ribbon (maybe)

Helpful Bow Diagram:
Are you enjoying my diagram skills? 

Get a paper towel roll (sans paper towels).  Cut it to the desired length for your bouquet's "stem" or "handle".  Mine was about 6 or 7 inches long.

Optional: Paint the paper towel roll white.  You don't have to do this, because odds are you're going to cover the paper towel roll with ribbon later, but I think it looks nicer.
Also paint the inside of the paper towel roll in case someone decides to look inside.  Set the paper towel roll aside to dry.
Gather the bows you and your bridesmaid cohorts saved from the bride's showers.  Fluff them up so they look pretty like when they were on top of her presents.
The bows made out of wired ribbons with long "tails" that tied around the packages are going to provide the structure of your bouquet.  You might need to tie smaller bows to larger bows so they can be more easily included.  That makes nifty looking composite bows:
You might also need to staple smaller bows or sticky bows to the center of long ribbons so they will have "tails" or "stems" as well.
Begin gathering your bows by the "tails", right at the base of the bows. This is basically be the same process you would follow if you were making a real bouquet.  Just think of the tails as the stems.
You might need to sandwich bows made out of un-wired ribbon between bows with more form and shape.  The un-wired satin or plastic ribbon can drape over the top of the more rigid, wired bows.
Keep gathering...
...keep gathering until you feel you have a good handful of bows that is more or less porportional and shaped evenly like an rounded mound.
Next, take a long, un-wired ribbon (1" satin ribbon is what I used), and wrap it once around the cluster of "tails" about 3 inches down from the cluster of bows.  This ribbon will anchor your bows to the paper towel roll.
Now, take your paper towl roll, and thread the anchoring ribbon through it.
Slide the paper towel roll up the anchoring ribbon.
This is what's happening:
Keep pulling on the anchoring ribbon until the cluster of ribbon "tails" has been pulled into the paper towel roll, doubled over, until the bouquet of bows is flush with the top of the paper towel roll.  The anchoring ribbon will flutter out the bottom of the paper towel roll.  Staple each of the tails of the anchoring ribbon to the paper towel.
You will have extra loops and tails sticking out of one side of the top of the bouquet. This is fine.  Allow some ribbons to trail down if you like that look.  Cut others off so they blend with the cluster of bows.  Be sure to save a few dangling ribbons.
With the one or two tails you've saved, wrap the paper towel roll "handle" to make a more pleasing look and texture.  Staple the end in place at the bottom.
Ta da!  Admire your beautiful bow bouquet:
Give bow bouquet to the happy bride for the rehearsal.
You're done!

The great thing about this way of making a bow bouquet is that I know for a fact that you can make it in the car on the way to the church as long as you've practiced one or two times before (and pre-painted the paper-towel roll).  This method is also very sturdy.  This bouquet isn't going to fall apart on you. 

Happy bow saving!

Late note:  I've been noticing that this post has been getting more hits than my usual posts.  If you're finding this tutorial useful, or if you have any suggestions, let me know!



  1. As unlikely as I am to make one of these, I still enjoyed this post because of the diagrams. More diagrams! You could even diagram "an average day in the life..." if you spend the day thinking "could I make a diagram out of this?"

    Did you just scan them in? I might try it, except being a boring guy I have no colorization tools. :-O

  2. That's a great idea. I'll have to think of something else to diagram. It will have to not involve anything I can't more-or-less draw.

    Yes, i just drew them and then scanned them as jpg's. My colorization tools were highlighters (the scanner dulls the color) and I'm pretty sure you could "borrow" those from unsuspecting library patrons.

  3. "I'm pretty sure you could "borrow" those from unsuspecting library patrons."

    Caitlin, you're such a good influence!

  4. I love the phrase "the more attractive side of tacky"
    Like it but think it would be even nicer if you could find a roll smaller around than a paper towel roll. If I do this (for someone else - I'm already married) I would cut the roll lengthwise and roll it tighter then tape it round and round a bit to keep in place. I love the idea and thanks for the clear illustrations

  5. I tried this idea and I love it! I started with the paper plate idea and couldn't get all the bows and ribbons to stay on and look nice all over lapping. Thank you so much for posting this idea! My sister is going to love it on her wedding rehearsal because she saw the paper plate idea I tried to do at her shower and we were trying to figure out how to make it look nice.

  6. Great idea! I've made plenty bow bouquets...been a bridesmaid 8 times :)
    I have always used paper plates but they fall apart so easily. This is great. THANKS!

  7. I used this method and my bouquet looks AWESOME! I was especially pleased b/c I've moved twice since my shower and my bows weren't in the best condition. Thanks!

  8. That was fantastic! Thanks so much for this tutorial, you just saved me from the wrath of the bride, who suddenly wanted this a week early. Just made my ribbon bouquet, finished it in under 30 minutes. I didn't have time to paint the paper towel roll so I used white paper and double sided tape, worked perfectly. Thanks again.

  9. So helpful...Thanks a million :)

  10. Very helpfull. Thank-you. Love the diagrams

  11. What a great step by step, the diagrams made it really easy to understand! Thanks

  12. I love the diagrams! :) Thanks for the lesson!

  13. Thank you for this tutorial, I have used it once already but, now that my brother is getting married I've found the desire to be a bit more...creative? Instead of a paper towel roll (which can get smashed, gripped too tightly and if it ever somehow got'd be ruined) so for my future sister in laws ribbon bouquet we have decided to be a little adventurous. Using a small about paper towel roll size/width and length PVC or plastic tube cut to the proper length..spray painted or painted whatever color you wish..use hot glue to stabilize the ends of the anchoring ribbon and wrap the plastic pipe easily with ribbon as it won't cave in like a paper towel or toilet paper roll would if ribbon is wrapped too tightly. Hope this makes sense! We just wanted to make my future sister's bouquet a bit more sturdy and easier to keep should she wish to save it c: Thank you again for the tutorial!

  14. Love this tutorial & method!!! Thank you so much!! Finally, after seeing tutorial after tutorial w/flimsy paper plates, I ran across yours thanks to Pinterest!!
    I'm going to use the tube that 10" deco mesh comes on. They are more narrow for holding, but made of sturdier cardboard. Thanks again!!

  15. I have used your method for 4 different weddings now. Fool proof and so easy, thanks so much!!

  16. cut a slit all the way down the paper towel roll and roll it in on itself. It makes it skinner and easier to hold and easier to thread the ribbon tails into it. tape or staple the tube to keep it from unrolling.

  17. Thanks! I was asked to make my nieces and did not want to settle with a dippy paper plate! and her shower is going to be very small so there might not be enough things for a plate anyways!