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How to Sculpt a Row of Faux Bows

Oct 01, 2009
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Manipulate a bias tube to create the illusion of bows.

by Anna Mazur
excerpted from “Living on the Edge” in
Threads #143

1. Cut a 3-inch-wide bias strip. Cut the strip about 75 percent longer than the edge you plan to cover, e.g., if the edge is 6 inches long, cut a 101⁄2-inch strip. If the strip is not long enough for a continuous row of bows, you can piece it, and hide the seam later under one of the bow edges.

Sew a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

2. Sew a tube. Fold the strip lengthwise with right sides together, and sew the edges with a 1⁄4-inch seam allowance, as shown above at left. Press the seam allowances open over a card-stock template, as shown above at right. Turn the strip right-side out, center the back of the seam, and press again.

Center the seam and press.

3. On the back, mark the tube every 2 inches. Then, mark the garment edge every 1 3⁄8 inch.

Mark the tube and garment edge.

4. Create a bow center over each marking on the tube. Hand-stitch to create gathers across the strip, as shown below.  Then, wrap a cord of fabric around the gathers to cover them, as shown at right. Tack a bow center to each marking, as shown at far right. Sew it in place.

Hand-stitch to gather the fabric.


Wrap a cord around the gathered fabric.


Tack a bow center in place.

5. Add pleats to form the bows.  Between every other center, pinch a pleat of fabric with the fold away from the center, and tack it to form an upper bow. Pinch a second pleat on the other side, and tack it in the opposite direction to form an under bow. This forms the overlap that creates the illusion of bows.

Pinch a pleast, and tack it.

6. Finish the strip. Make sure all of the bows are the same size. Then finish the end of the strip; turn under the raw edge to form the last bow.

Tip: Hide the closure. To create the illusion of a continuous row of bows in places where a break is needed such as at a zipper opening, add tiny snaps to the right side of the under bow and corresponding snaps to the under side of the upper bow.

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  1. Unsupebupteni October 5th

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  2. Katielynne January 3rd

    What an innovative trim! Anna, you're just marvelous for thinking this one up and sharing it--your presentation is clear and easy to comprehend. And thanks also to beckyc4u and rita61 for sharing their super ideas for application and tiny cord construction.

  3. beckyc4u October 6th

    To make the fabric cord, cut a strip of fabric about 5/8 inch wide. Fold it in half, right sides together, to make a long strip. Stitch about 3/16 inch from the raw edge. Now, take a blunt needle, like a darning needle, and using strong thread, tack the thread to one end of the inside-out tube. Then put the needle through the tiny tube and out the other end. You can inch the tube along the thread eventually turning it right side out.
    You can use this to make spaghetti straps or loops for buttons too.
    The faux-bow trim looks like a great way to trim historic costumes for plays. I am anxious to try it! Thanks!

  4. rita61 October 6th

    For ohsewcute - make the tiny cord in the same fashion as you make the tube for the bows. Sew a seam about 3/16" from the folded edge. Press the seam allowance using a small wooden dowel (well sanded) or a length of wire to insert in the tube. Trim the seam allowance to about 1/8" then turn the tube. Or you can purchase a ready made cord at the fabric store or crochet your own cord or use a small length of jewelry chain or yarn or ribbon or a string of beads or crystals or... my head is spinning with possibilities.

    I envision using this row of bows around the tiered hems of a dance costume or around the sleeve of a suit jacket or along the edge of a table cloth or place mats or instead of a ruffle on a little girl's dress or curtains. You could sew the bows onto a ribbon to use as a strap for an evening gown or a purse or even as a choker necklace or headband. I have got to get out my tube turner and get to work!

  5. ohsewcute October 6th

    Cute idea, but how does one make the 'cord of fabric' used to wrap around the gathers in Step #4?

  6. Siewade October 5th

    This idea is SO superb! I can now design SML bows for my granddaughters and myself; especially to some dresses, shirts that have been hanging in the wardrobe for a long time and to those that are quite dull in color. Thank you Anna Mazur.

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