Make Full Korker Hair Bows!
Korker hair bows are great accessories for little girls!
Learning how to make korker hair bows isn't too difficult, but I'll warn you, it is a lengthy process. Unless you have lots of time on your hands, or want control of making your little girl's accessories, this process might not be for you.
I've made korker hair bows for almost 10 years. I have included several pictures and tips to make your korker hair bow experience smooth. Now let's get started!
- Wood dowel rods, prepared (instructions below in Step 1)
- Sand paper
- 3/8" 100% polyester grosgrain ribbon (other polyester ribbon can be used - see Step 2)
- Small wooden clothes pins
- Foil or a baking sheet
- Embroidery floss
- Lighter or wood burner
Step 1 - Gather and prepare wooden dowel rods.
For best results you'll want several 1/4" or 5/16" rods. Because the rods you buy out are generally very 36" long, you'll want to cut these in half. You can use a jigsaw, hacksaw or even a steak knife like me. You can buy these already cut in variety packs as seen in the picture. The downfall of these are their length and you get sticks in unusable sizes. Once you get your sticks, you'll need to sand them with fine sand paper. This makes the ribbon slide off. It is worth the trouble for the ease later.
Step 2 - Select and gather your ribbon.
It is VERY important to use only 100% polyester ribbon. Others can catch on fire or melt during the baking process. The most common type of ribbon used for korker hair bows is grosgrain ribbon. However, satin or any other type of polyester ribbon can be used. A 18" stick generally takes about 1 yard of ribbon. A full hair bow will take around 4 sticks. So to make one full size bow you'll need about 4 yard of 3/8" ribbon. This can vary depending on how full and wide you want the bow to be.
Step 3 - Wrapping the ribbon around the rods. (directions followed by pictures)
- Place the ribbon, right side up, at an angle on the top of the dowel rod.
- Use a wooden clothes pin to attach the ribbon to the stick. You can also use straight pins or those large closer paper clips.
- Start wrapping the ribbon fairly tightly onto the stick. Wrap it at a downward angle. The tighter and closer you wrap the ribbon, the tighter the curls will be. So, if you want looser curls, make the loops further apart. I like mine close together, but it's all about personal preference.
- Attach another close pin as you go. It's easy to lose grip, so this will prevent you from losing your work. You can also lay the stick down and take break.
- Continue wrapping until you reach the bottom of the stick and place a pin on the bottom.
- Cut the ribbon.
Step 4 - Get your ribbon ready for the oven.
I have better luck arranging my ribbon in the oven if I turn all my clothes pins the same direction. Then you'll want to arrange the rods by color. Some colors and prints are bad to fade or run while baking. You definitely don't want red touching anything else! White dots can be difficult to work with as well. Red and white polka dot ribbon usually comes up looking pink.
Place your rods either on a cookie sheet or on alumium foil in the oven.
Step 5 - Baking the korker ribbon.
Place the ribbon in the oven, being careful not to let different colors touch. Bake the ribbon for about 30 to 45 minutes at 325 degrees Farenheit. Some colors, like darker ribbon curl better than light ribbons, like white. White is difficult because it can turn yellow sometimes if cooked too long, but doesn't curl well if not baked long enough.
When letting the ribbon cool, I just usually turn off my oven and allow it to cool in there. You can remove it from the oven to cool, but it's very important to let the ribbon cool on the sticks to secure nicer curls.
Step 6 - Removing the ribbon from the sticks.
If you sanded your dowel rods well, the korker ribbon should slide right off the sticks. If it doesn't. just twist the ribbon gently with your finger until it comes off.
Now you're ready to start on your very own korker hair bows! Can you believe it? If curling the ribbon yourself becomes too much of a chore, there are places to buy it already curled. Some places even offer it cut and sealed. It is more expensive, but as we all know, it's hard to put a price on time.
Step 7 - Cutting and sealing your korkers.
I cut my ribbon at an angle, but you might prefer to cut yours straight. I believe it's easier to hold the ribbon between my fingers and cut, for a smoother looking end. Sharp scissors are important to keep from fraying the ribbon. I then seal my ends by holding a light briefly up to the ends. Some people cut and seal their ribbon at the same time by using the angled end of a wood burning tool. Other people use liquid fray check, but I really dislike that stuff. It stains my ribbon and doesn't work that well.
*Please excuse the fuzzy picture. It's hard to hold a camera in your mouth and work a lighter at the same time while waiting for the timer to count down.
To make a full korker bow, I use at least 30 to 40 korkers. The length you cut them determines the width of the bow. You'll want to cut the korkers as even as possible for a nice looking shape.
Step 8 - Sewing the korker together.
- You'll want to thread a long needle with matching embroidery floss. The needle needs to be longer than the thickness of your bow. The floss needs to be tied with a very secure knot.
- Place the first korker on the needle, positioning it in the middle. Place it near the bottom of the needle but use one had to hold the korker on the needle. You'll be holding all of them on the needle until it's ready to sew.
- Place the next color overlapping the first, but laying to the side.
- Continue alternating colors, and location in a circle like motion. Make sure you always thread the korker through the middle.
- Once you have all the korkers threaded, pull the thread up and down the middle two or three times. You might have to use force, but careful not to bend your needle.
- Tie the thread in a very secure knot and cut off the excess thread.
See the pictures below for a better idea of this process.
A few warnings and tips:
- Please, again make sure you use 100% polyester ribbon. Do not attempt to use a toaster or microwave oven to make these. Only use the indicated time and temperatures to bake the ribbon and make sure you're using a calibrated oven.
- If you plan to make these for small children, or in listings be sure to secure your bows very well and place a choking warning on the hair bow card or listing. If sewn correctly, they shouldn't come apart but it is possible. These do pose a choking risk to babies and toddlers.
- You can stiffen the ribbon by using spray starch or other types of fabric stiffener. You might test a sample to avoid staining or flaking.
- If you are making these for team sports like cheer bows, you can sew them onto strandes of elastic or ouchless pony Os.
Wow! The bow is finally finished. You can either hot glue it onto a french clip or alligator clip. Your designs don't have to end there. Many people also use these puffs to decorate apparel, home decor and more. Now that you know how to make korker hair bows, the sky is the limit!