Friday, March 4, 2011

Getting Started as a Bow Maker--Part One--Equipment

I had no idea the kind of investment I would be making when I decided I wanted to learn to make hairbows for my girls!!  I don't even think Etsy was around when I had my older daughter, I had to do with what I could find in the stores, which wasn't much.  I got the brainy idea, when I had my second daughter in 2005, to make them myself!

Once you buy all the initial supplies, it really isn't too expensive.  And trust me, I tried to cut corners to save money, but some things you just have to have to save your sanity!

Here are some of my absolute necessities as a bow maker:

1.  Glue gun--this is a MUST for most crafters anyway, but the kind of gun I love for bows is this model here:
    It is a detail glue gun that has a fine tip.  The glue gets super hot but doesn't glob up and thread all over the     place.  I have tried many other brands but the Surebonder is just the way to go!

2.  Woodburner--I know it sounds nuts, but you must have a woodburner for sealing off those ribbon ends!!  I tried to get away with a lighter to start with, but after rubbing my thumbs raw, decided to just go ahead and get the burner.  Now, a couple of thoughts about the woodburner:

  • It gets hotter than Hades, so BE CAREFUL about where you set this baby!!  It WILL slide (even with the stand) off the table and BURN your carpet, floor, lap, etc in no time!!  I have mine set up with the metal stand's "feet" under a book an the burner sitting on the it doesn't slide anymore.  
  • I have 2 woodburners, one for dark ribbon and one for light ribbon.  Why?  When you do a lot of ribbon sealing, you can transfer colors to the lighter ribbon and NOTHING is worse than a white bow with brown, dirty-looking ends!!  So I have 2.  It also helps when you're sealing korker bows...that's a whole lot of ribbon sealing and the burners get dirty.  It helps to have an alternate.
3.  Thread and Needle--I have definite opinions about this because it is how ALL of my bows go together, boutique, korker, layered, stacked, etc!  I have tried to buy cheap thread and needles and only get frustrated when the thread breaks and the needles bend.  Trust me, there is nothing more frustrating than being almost done sewing together a korker bow and the ribbon breaks and korkers go flying!!
  • Needle--I only use a "darning" needle.  It is thick as can be and very sturdy!  I use it for all my bows and have only had to replace it a few times when the end gets dull.  It literally does not bend and can get the job done!
  • Thread--I only use "hand quilting" thread.  Thread tends to gather, break, twist and that is super frustrating!!  Hand quilting thread is designed to be used repetitively in and out of fabric, so it withstands the breaking and gathering that "all purpose" thread does.  It is more expensive, but worth your sanity!
  • Pins--just a few long sharp pins and pincushion
4.  Scissors--I know this is obvious, but get a good pair!  Cutting ribbon with dull, cheap scissors is awful!  I have a pair of large, grey-handled Fiskar scissors I bought at the craft store.  They were $15 and worth every penny!  I also have a pair of small embroidery snips for cutting thread.  They are Ginghers...super sharp, and ready for action.
5.  Ruler--I have an 18 inch clear acrylic ruler mounted on the edge of my work station.  It's so easy to measure when it's sitting right there.

So, I know this is a long post....but wanted to get my thoughts out there!  I like real-life, practical information and didn't have it when I got started!!  I did everything wrong at least once.  My next post will address the fun stuff about bows--ribbon, embellishments, and hardware!!


  1. How funny I was just looking at your rosette tutorial and wondering what kind of glue gun you used that had such a tiny tip!? I have that problem with the glue globing everywhere! its a pain, and I usually have lots of clean up to do on the accessories I create. Do you have a link to where you go this one? Or can it be found in certain stores? I'd LOVE to get myself one of these!


  2. I looked on the Surebonder website. Can you tell me what exact glue gun you have? I don't see the one you have pictured. Thanks!


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