V&I How To: The Trimmings and the Trappings

Of the laundry list of impractical skills we’ve garnered over the years, gift wrapping is among those at the top {right next to Irish step dancing – yes, it was during the River Dance craze and no we don’t want to talk about it}. From gently coaxing paper into neatly folded corners to tying elaborate bows, you name it and we can do it. And since we’ve been doing so much of it lately, we thought we’d take a quick break and give all of you a step-by-step guide on one of our more fancy looking bows. We know, not the most riveting read for a Friday afternoon, but there’s pictures and we promise in the end that it’s entirely worth the effort. Don this bow on any funny paper-wrapped gift and you’ll go from a wannabe to a bonafide gift wrap goddess {or god, for all you gents} in no time.

Before we get to the nitty gritty, a few preparatory notes:

-we suggest using a wider, more substantial ribbon for this bow. We are big fans of the skinny, double-faced satin stuff {male translation: the skinny, shiny material one}, but unless you’re willing to start with about 50 loops, in the end the finished product will look a little less than festive.

-the final product will be about as wide as the flattened set of loops you make to begin the project. Want a big bow? Make big loops {and vice-versa}.

OK, let’s begin.

1. What you’ll need: hands {and a spiffy manicure replete with a “party nail” a la this blog and via Miss Monica, one of our polish-obsessed Oxford Hall girls}, a spool of suitable ribbon and scissors.


Note: the labeling of our ribbon scissors may sound a little {OK a lot} obsessive, but try cutting this bow with that dull pair of Fiskars your mom saved from Kindergarten and you'll understand why we designate a special pair just for these purposes.


2. Without cutting off a predetermined length, begin wrapping loops of ribbon around one hand {see notes before beginning to determine the proper size for your loops}. Keep the ribbon as aligned as possible while wrapping, and aim for evenly-sized loops. For a good bow, we recommend around 15 to 20 loops.


Have you figured out yet that this is just a shameless excuse to show off our manicure?


3. When you’re done, the finished product should look something like this. Voilà!



4. When cutting the end of the ribbon, aim for have it to end right around where the ribbon begins. This will make any loose ends disappear once you fluff the finished bow.



5. Once you’re done, pinch the bow in half so that the end and the beginning of the ribbon are under your fingers.


Yes, this is only step five of a twelve step process. Hang in there!


6. Fold the ribbon in half at the pinched point. Then, grab your trusty ribbon scissors and use them to cut off small triangles off each side at the bended portion of the ribbon. Careful not too cut to much – you want to leave enough ribbon behind as a sturdy center for the bow.


Don't aim to make a point of the ribbon when cutting. Instead, aim to leave about half of the ribbon's width when trimming off the sides.


7. This is what the end result should look like. If your ribbon is cut too skinny in the middle, it will be a weak foundation for the rest of your bow and, depending on the fragility of your ribbon, could lead to breakage.


As Goldilocks would say, this is juuuuuuust right.


8. Unfold the cut ribbon. It should slightly resemble a figure 8 {tapered in the middle and wider on the ends}. NOTE: From here you can proceed in one of two ways. You can either cut a short length of ribbon to make a stand alone bow {which can always later be attached to a box using adhesive or another ribbon}, or cut a longer length of ribbon that will fit around whatever package you are wrapping and also secure this bow. For a stand alone bow, cut a short length of ribbon – approximately two to three inches – and position it around the tapered middle of your loops. For a bow that you will immediately attach to a package, cut a length of ribbon that will fit around your parcel with a little leeway and position it around the middle of your loops as well. For either option, then carefully tie a single, tight knot around the center of your loops.


Almost there!


9. For a stand alone bow, carefully trim the ends off the short ribbon you used to make a knot around your loops {if you leave them long you risk them showing in the finished bow}. For a bow that you will attach to your parcel, leave the ends as they are. You can trim them as need be once you ribbon your package.



10. Begin to slowly pull each loop of ribbon out of alignment with the rest. It is easiest to pull the outermost loop to the furthest outside position, so that it is almost perpendicular to the rest of the loops. Continue with the next loop and so on and so on.


We'll call this the pull and fluff step.


11. Once you’ve finished one side of your loops, it will look something like this. Repeat the same steps on the next side. Once you’ve finished pulling and fluffing, you’ll need to continue fluffing a bit, so that the loops spread in all vertical and horizontal directions and form a pretty pouf. Height is your friend here, so make like a pageant queen from Texas and tease that bow!


Pull, fluff and repeat.


12. From here, you can either affix the bow to your package using the long lengths of ribbon {if you chose that route} or simply enjoy the pretty, fluffy thing you just made on its own {if you did a stand alone bow}. And that’s fancy bow 101.


Ta-daaaaa! We're fancy, huh?

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