Making Cheer Bows

I've been a football mom for years.  This year, I'm adding cheerleading mom to my resume.  It's been an experience.  I was a dance mom for 8 years - and still it didn't prepare me for this.  :-)

At a cheer parents meeting recently, they rattled off the costs for the competition cheer bows, and I about fell off my chair.  $25 for a bow?  That's more than we paid for the spanx.  A few weeks later I attended my first cheer competition, and saw a stand selling bows.  $15 each.  They did not look that difficult, or expensive, to me, so I went online and started researching cheer bows.  Wow.  Some moms take these really seriously.  Me?  Not so much.  I'm looking to have fun with them, but we're definitely not into beauty pageants here.  This is the simple cheer bow tutorial. I didn't sew layers of sateen to ribbon, or anything complicated.  (And to be clear, neither did the people selling the bows for $25, and $15, that I have seen around here)

  • Grossgrain Ribbon  You can use other types of ribbon - but this is a little hearvier and stiffer, and really works well.  It's what I saw on most of the bows sold at the competition.
  • Fancy ribbon to tie around the center
  • Wire
  • Hair ties
  • Glue (I used E600)
  • Spray Starch
How To:

Cut the ribbon into strips. (For these, I cut at 25 inches.)

Form the bow  - this takes some practice and there are lots of tutorials on youtube..  but the best way to figure this out is to pick up the ribbon and see what you come up with that you like.  The first 4 took me forever to make.  After that, it was a very quick process.

I use a clothespin to hold the ribbon roughly into the shape I want for the bow.  Then I wrap wire around the ribbon, inserting the hair tie and  removing the clothes pin, and shape a little more.  

Place on a pan (I lined mine with foil for easier clean up) and place balls of aluminum foil into the loops of the bow to fluff them up.  Spray entire bow with lots of spray starch.

Bake at 200 until thoroughly dry.

Cover the wire with pretty sparkly ribbon, glue into place.  

Using a lighter, get the edges of the tail close enough to the flame to melt them slightly, to keep them from fraying.  Be careful to not actually get the ribbon into the flame.

Add the monogram sticker.



I recommend starting with a cheap ribbon to practice and get the right size.  We read so many different numbers..  but ended up using 25 inches as our ribbon length.  This made a bow roughly 6.5 inches across, with some "pouff".

Mini zip ties work great to hold the bows together. I used wire because I was afraid to bake the zip ties..  but at 200 degrees, they may be fine. I haven't experimented yet.  The wire does loosen on it's own, the sparkle ribbon glued around the middle really helps keep everything in place.

Always put your hair in a ponytail first - the ponytail holder on the bow is just to hold the bow to your hair, not meant to form the actual ponytail.    


Light blue pola dot ribbon - $3.99 for 3 yds.  Makes 4 bows.  $1 a bow.
Dark Gray polka dot ribbon - $3.99 for 3 yds.  Makes 4 bows.  $1 a bow.
(I used a 40% off coupon (JoAnn app on my phone has the coupons right in the app) on the one spool - making it $2.39 a spool - 60 cents a bow)

Celebrate it sparkly ribbon (used in the center of the bows)
    $3.99 for 3 yards.  40% off (Michaels app on my phone has the coupons right in the app) - $2.39.  I'm using roughly 2.75 inches of it per a bow, meaning i can easily make 39 bows from this one spool.
  .06 cents a bow.

Hair ties - $1.99 for 30 - .06 cents a bow

Monogram letters - 99 cents a pack.  Because I won't use all the letters, this is hard to calculate exactly, but lets say 10 cents a bow.

Costs that are hard to pinpoint exactly:
Spray Starch.  $1.39 a can.  I imagine you could make 100 bows with one can, easily.  
Aluminum foil.  I'm not sure how to accurately add this into the costs - I made 8 balls of aluminum foil and used them over and over, doing 4 bows at a time.  
E600 glue.  I have this on hand, other glues would work  - another cost I can't accurately calculate, but minimal at best.
Wire - again, on hand, leftover from some project..  you can buy spools of it for $1 and it would make many, many bows.

Let's say all of the above works out to an extra $1 a bow.  It doesn't - the actual cost is much less, but lets round up.

$2.82 cents a bow.  I didn't add tax -so lets round up some more to $3.

$3 a bow.

This is shopping at local craft stores.  If I buy the ribbon online in bulk, i can save even more.

If we use the lower price ($15) charged for bows similar to these, on sale at the last competition, that is $12 a bow in profit.  And we're paying $17 & $25 for bows that I think are similar to the ones I made here.  (Being new to all of this, it is very possible I missed something that makes bows more expensive - but I don't think so.  I think the profit margin on these really is insane.)

The first 4 bows took me about 2 hours to make - not counting drying time.  I had never made one before, so it took me some time to figure out a process that worked.
The next 4 took me less than 15 minutes.  This is not especially hard, or especially time consuming.