This sketch to helps illustrate the technique.
Each color represents one set of loops as well as the final single loop and tail in the middle.
I love to decorate wreaths, as a child I did this every year with my grandmother. In fact my first crafty business was making and decorating wreaths for the holidays (I was about 10). I sold them to the neighborhood and people in my mom's office. My best friend was a boy who lived down the street and I employed him to go into the woods and collect the wreath making materials...I was a precocious kid. Now a days I don't really have time to make my own wreaths but I always decorate one- and the first step is learning how to make a good bow.
To start you need a spool of wire edged ribbon. You'll also need floral wire. cut off about 10-12 inches of wire and keep it handy.
Roll out a length of ribbon about five inches longer than the length of the tail you'll want. Don't cut the ribbon off the spool you'll work with it on the spool until the end.
Making bows is just making a series of loops from the back to the front. The first loops are the largest and then they get smaller and smaller.
To make your first loop fold your ribbon over and pinch it together at the end of the loop with your index finger and thumb. I make the loop about 4 or 5 inches long. This is the first loop on the left hand side.
Twist the ribbon over in the middle (just after your pinched fingers) so the right side of the ribbon is now facing the back.
Now make a second loop on the right side that's about the same size as the first. Always making your loop from the back to the front so the right side ends up facing out. Pinch the end of that loop together too.
Twist the ribbon over so the right side is facing the back again and make another loop on the left side. This time the loop should be a little smaller than the last set.
Continue making loops on alternating sides until you have 3, 4 or 5 loops on each side. Each time you make a set of loops it should be smaller than the last set. How many loops you have on each side depends on a two things- how full you want the bow and how large you've made your first loops. I usually find that 4 is good.
Now make one last loop and leave a tail about the same length as the tail on the other side and without letting go of the loops pinched in between your fingers on one hand cut the ribbon off the spool with the other hand.
Now (still without letting the ribbon go) grab that piece of floral wire and put it around the center of the bow where you've been holding the loops together and twist the wire together in the back. The tighter you twist the wire the better your bow will look. I use to hands (once the wire is around the middle and holding my loops together) and pull the wire as tight as I can.
Now the magic part to making a bow is fluffing out the loops. Don't be afraid to pull the loops where you want them to make a full bow.
Once the bow is full clip the ends of the ribbon tails to make a nice even finished look.
And there you have it!
I'll do another post on how to decorate a plain store bought wreath tomorrow!