September 7, 2010

Korker Bow Tutorial

Whenever a friend of mine sees my korker bows for the first time, they always ask, “How do you get the ribbon to DO that?!” It was my first reaction when I first saw a korker, too! They almost seem to defy the laws of physics by staying curly like that. The answer, by the way, is baking the ribbon. Yes, in the oven. No, I’m not joking.

If you want to give korker bows a shot at home, here’s how to make them. They do take some time (and quite a bit of patience for your first few tries), but once you get the hang of it, they’re really fun to make!

First of all, here’s what you’ll need (forgive me - a few items are missing from the photo):

- 1/4" wooden dowels (cut them short so they fit in your oven)
- Ribbon (wired ribbon will not work for korker bows)
- Turkey pan or cookie sheet
- Clothespins
- Scissors
- Ruler
- Hand sewing needle
- Lighter or Fray Check
- Barettes or headband
- Glue (I prefer E6000, but some like to use hot glue)
- No slip grips (optional)

1.) Preheat your oven to 275º.

2.) Take your dowel and clip a piece of ribbon to the top with a clothespin. Then, wrap your ribbon around the dowel all the way to the bottom. Make sure there’s a little bit of room in between your wraps. When you reach the bottom, take another clothespin and clip it.

3.) Repeat with all your dowels. It’s always a good idea to do these in larger batches, if possible. Otherwise, it takes FOREVER.

4.) Once you have all your dowels wrapped in ribbon, it’s time to bake them! I like to take my dowels and place them in our big turkey pan. Other people prefer to use a cookie sheet. Use whatever works best for you.

**Warning: when baking, sometimes ribbon can “bleed” onto the other ribbons. Always try to keep the lighter colors together and the darker colors together. This prevents getting red splotches of ribbon dye on your pretty white ribbon.

5.) Bake your ribbons for about 25 minutes at 275º. When the time is up, remove the dowels from the oven and allow them to cool before handling.

6.) Once they are cooled, gently remove the ribbon from the dowels.

7.) Decide on the size of the korker bow you want to make. Cut the long ribbons down into small bits. The approximate measurements when I make bows are as follows:

- Mini corkers - 2 to 2-1/4 inches long (perfect for a pair of pigtail corkers)
- Regular corkers - 3 to 3-1/2 inches long
- Large corkers - 4 inches long

You can do this as large or small as you want. If you want to make a giant 10” korker, have at it! And send me a photo…because that would be awesome.

8.) Once your pieces are cut down to size, make sure you seal the ends of each piece. I like to heat seal them with a lighter or candle. Some people prefer to use Fray Check. Be careful if you want to go that route - some ribbon will become stained with Fray Check. Test a small piece of ribbon first to be safe.

9.) Time to sew your korker together! Gather the colors you want to use for your bow. I usually use between 10 - 16 pieces of korker per bow, but it’s entirely up to you. If you want a really full bow, use more. A little less full, go with fewer. Once you make a couple, you’ll figure out your preference.

10.) Thread your needle and tie a knot in the ends. Leave a tail about 3 inches long after the knot to help you tie it together at the end.

11.) Take your first piece of korker bow and put your needle through the middle. DO NOT PUSH THE KORKER DOWN THE THREAD. Make sure it stays on the needle. Use your fingers to prevent the korkers from sliding down the thread.
NOTE: The way I do my korkers, the first pieces you put on your needle are going to be on the top of the bow. Think about this if you’re particular about which color you want on the top.

12.) Continue to alternate colors until all of your pieces are securely on the needle. With the hand that is not holding the needle, pinch together all your bows so you have a clear center. Now, pull the needle through so the korker pieces are on the thread. Hold onto it tightly! This is the trickiest part of the whole thing.

13.) Still pinching the middle together, sew back through the ribbons, making sure you’re not going through the exact same hole. Once the needle and thread has fully passed through, you can un-pinch. Clip the thread, leaving about 3 inches of tail for knotting the thread together.
14.) Take your two tail pieces and tie a knot. I’m paranoid about things falling apart, so I usually tie them about 4 or 5 times. Snip the threads short so they’re not sticking out. I also often put a little dot of Fray Check onto the knot to secure it a little more.

Here is the knot after you've tied and clipped it (it's kind of hard to see). This is the top of the bow:
This is the view from the bottom of the bow. You can see the little stitch. This is the piece that will be glued to the barrette:

15.) Now your bow is finished! Time to get the barrette ready! I like to use alligator clips. They are easy to work with and a good size for little girls.
16.) Cut a matching piece of ribbon to the size you want to cover the clip. Heat seal or fray check the edges. Glue it to the clip - typically, I’ve found that less is more for this step. Use enough to get it to stick, but not too much. Otherwise, you’ll have to sit there while it dries so it’s not slipping all over the place.
17.) If you are placing a no-slip grip onto the clip, now is a good time. This is optional. It simply helps the clip get a little better grip on really fine, baby hair.
18.) Once the glue is dry (or dry enough that the ribbon isn’t all slippy-slidey), place a small dollop of glue on the center of the top of the clip. Attach the korker bow. Hold it in place for a minute or so to make sure it isn’t going to slide off the barrette.

19.) Success! I suggest allowing bows to dry for at least 12 hours before using them.
Have fun making these! If you have any questions or run into any problems along the way, feel free to drop me a line or comment. I’m happy to help! Also, don’t give up after the first few. They can be tricky (and a little time consuming) at first - but once you get the hang of it, they go much faster. Otherwise, if you are too frustrated, you can always stop by my shop and purchase a few from me. :)

I’m not placing any restrictions on this tutorial. However, if you use it to make bows for selling, I would appreciate a link back to my blog.

Now, go forth and make korkers!


  1. Amazing! Great job! I wish I could do that and you made it seem so simple. Great explanation on how to do it.

  2. Wow, I didn't know it took that much work to make one. I've seen your shop, they are pretty at the end.

  3. I am so excited to find this!!!! While we were in China so many of the little girls had corker bow type things in their hair. Now that Georgia has enough hair I have been looking for some to put in her hair. Maybe I'll try to make some myself!!!

  4. wow, I ddn't realize what a process this was!! How cool!! And if you ever want, I'd love to host a giveaway for you, I have done many Etsy shop giveaways, and it brings quite a bit of exposure to the sellers shops and blogs! Just a thought. ;)

  5. These are sooo cute! I wish I still had a little grand daughter (she's 16 now) to wear them.

  6. What a great tutorial. It's very clearly written and the result is beautiful!

  7. Thank you for such a great tutorial. I had started my evening making a bow following another one, but it glued each layer in the centre. I hardly used any glue, but even so, it was enough that there wasn't enough space on the mini korker to curl. I was quite disappointed with the end "blob." I was about to count it as a loss when I stumbled across your method and I love it! I was able to salvage my messed up bow (it looks great now) and make a couple more for our hair bow collection. I will do it this way forever more!

  8. an excellent tutorial! It's very clear and easy to follow... thanks!
    but would an oven toaster do? what time should i set it on? =)

  9. So glad I found this :) thanks for the easy to follow and understandable tutorial!


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