One of the most frequent questions we get is how we make our bows! This tutorial outlines our classic bow process, which utilizes SparklePipsi’s bow pieces with some alterations. SparklePipsi has graciously granted us permission to include her patterns with our resources, and you can find her original bow tutorial here. You can learn exactly how to alter her bow pieces to work with this tutorial here, or you can sign up for our Patreon to download the pattern pieces with alterations complete.
- 3/4 yd matte satin for the chest bow (our blog post contains satin sources!)
- 1 1/4 yd matte satin for the butt bow (our blog post contains satin sources!)
- 2 yds heavy weight interfacing. We prefer Pellon 808 Craftfuse
- Matching thread
- Printer/paper for patterns
- Optional: quilter’s bar
- Altered version of SparklePipsi‘s Senshi Bow pattern pieces
Note: all seam allowances are 1/2″
A Quick Note on Fitting:
Proportions are key to making a beautiful fuku! If you are large-chested or broad in the shoulders, you may wish to use the butt bow pieces instead of a chest bow or increase the size of the chest bow pieces. Play with the sizing and figure out what works best for you!
A great way to test sizing before cutting your fabric is to cut the loops and hold them up to your chest. If you are on the petite side, you can always scale down the front bow pieces, or increase the size of the center front seam allowance!
TIP: Not sure which bow loop goes with which tail? Label your pieces! It can help prevent confusion or accidentally swapping out for the wrong sizes.
To assemble the main bow, cut 4 pieces of fabric and 2 pieces of interfacing. If you’d like an easy guide for stitching, cut your interfacing 1/2″ smaller than your pattern pieces, indicated by the dotted line on the pattern pieces. Iron your interfacing pieces to the wrong side of 2 of your fabric pieces.
Note: Interfacing both loop pieces can lead to some crunchy-looking bows, so we prefer to interface only one of the loop pieces on the inner side of each loop.
Create two loop pieces by pinning or clipping an interfaced and non-interfaced loop piece right sides together. Stitch each bow loop together along the top and bottom, leaving the shorter edges open, following the edge of your interfacing for a super crisp edge.
Clip around the curves to help the piece lay flat. Then, trim your seam allowance to reduce bulk.
Finally, flip the loop inside out and give it a good press. Steam is your friend!
IMPORTANT TIP: Keep the appropriate bow pieces together! Front loop pieces should stay with the front bow tail, and the same goes for the back bow pieces. You’ll get really weird-looking bows if you combine the two!
Finish the raw edges of your loops if desired. Serging or a zig-zag stitch along the edge will prevent the fabric from fraying later.
Now, we need to turn the individual loop pieces into one large loop. Place the individual loop pieces together with the non-interfaced sides facing. Clip or pin the short edges and sew.
Press the seams open. A tailor’s ham or sleeve press is useful here.
Flip your loop inside out so the interfaced side of the loop is on the inside. Center your seams and give the outside edges of the bow a light press.
Now, we’re going to fold the bow to create that lovely dimple in the center. Fold the bow in half horizontally.
Fold the horizontal edges of the bow back, as shown. Do this for the top and bottom of the bow loop.
Hold the center of your bow in place with sewing pins or clips.
Using a matching thread, hand sew the center of the bow in place. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Quickly looping thread around the center of the bow a few times will do the trick.
Fluff your bows by gently pressing the outside edge of the fold toward the front of the bow loop.
Set your loop pieces aside for now. It’s time to start assembling the tails!
Cut 2 pieces of fabric and 1 piece of interfacing for the tails. Cut the interfacing piece in half and remove 1/2″ seam allowance from the outside edge and bottom of the tail. Iron your interfacing to the wrong sides of the fabric, mirroring the interfacing for each tail.
TIP: It’s useful to mark your seam, especially on the tail pieces!
Fold the tail piece in half, right sides together. Clip or pin if desired. Stitch from the angled center down to the point, and up to the fold. You’re essentially following the dotted line indicated on the pattern.
For a crisp corner, stitch right alongside the interfacing until you get to the point. Leave your needle down, lift the presser foot, and pivot your fabric piece. Lower your presser foot and continue sewing. Make sure to backstitch at the corners! This will make sure they’re nice and sturdy whenever you flip the piece inside out.
Flip your tail piece inside out. Using a pencil or chopstick, gently press out the corner and press the tail piece. Finish your raw edges by serging or stitching with a zig-zag stitch to prevent fraying if desired.
Place your bow tail pieces on top of each other, non-interfaced sides facing each other. Clip or pin the center angled edges together and sew. Press this seam open.
Fold the angled center portion of the tails down in the back and press. This can be done in half (fold the top portion down once) or in thirds (fold the top portion down once, then over again) as shown.
Set your tail piece aside for now.
Cut a rectangle 3″ wide by 6-8″ long. This piece will be your bow knot. Stitch the piece, right sides together lengthwise. Trim your seam allowance to reduce bulk.
Shift your knot piece so that the seam is centered on one side. This will be the reverse side of the knot. Press this piece.
Stitch across one edge of the knot piece with a ½” seam allowance. Trim your seam allowance.
Using a point turner or a similar object, push the edge of your knot piece through the rest of the knot, turning the piece inside out.
After turning the knot piece inside out, press the knot piece flat. A quilter’s bar is very useful here to get a flat piece without making the center back seam show through!
Time to put it all together!
Make sure your bow knot has one super clean end, and then serge the end that was left open to be able to turn it. To determine how long this should be, pin the knot piece in place on the tails and place your bow loop on top of the tail pieces. Wrap the knot around to see how much length you need. Ours are usually 6.5”
Once you’ve determined your knot piece length, pin it to the reverse side of your tail pieces. Stitch this piece down. Cut off the excess if you haven’t already.
Place your loop piece right on top of the tail-knot combo you finished sewing, lining up the centers carefully. You may tack or pin your bow loops to the tails if you don’t want them moving during the next step.
Bring the long (finished) edge of the bow knot towards you (between the bow tails), and then make it go up around your bow loops. You’ll need to turn the entire piece over at this point to tighten the knot; pin it in place once you’re happy with how tight it is, and then hand sew it down.
If you’ve not yet tacked down your bow loop to your bow tail pieces, we recommend doing so at this point. This will keep your bow tails from flopping around during wear.
This method hides the serged edge, making your bow beautiful and clean from any angle. You may now hand-sew velcro or snaps to your bow knot so that you can attach it to your chest armor and affix your brooch.
Repeat this process for the butt bow.