Ribbons and Bows have been in use for centuries and have truly evolved over time. Who could believe that, back in the sixteenth century, the English Parliament attempted to pass a law stating that ribbons could only be worn by the nobility! It was common for both men and women to pin ribbons and bows to their clothing and wrap them in their hair. Renaissance works of art shows how popular and widespread their use was. In the latter part of the sixteenth century and early seventeenth century a long strand of hair worn draped over the chest and often tied with a ribbon bow was worn exclusively by men. This was known as a lovelock which drew emphasis towards the heart to signify their romantic devotion to their beloved one.

In Russia, bows signified a political purpose where girls would wear two large white bows (bantiki) with their school uniform to show loyalty to the Soviet Union.

Hollywood starlets had bows in their hair to portray wholesome femininity – think Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. Now they’re everywhere, big and small, on presents, in your hair, adorning clothes!

I love a nice bow but am hopeless and making them look as fantastic as some people can and it wouldn’t be something I would choose to wear. Although I do quite like making paper bows for card craft and I did enjoy making this bow pattern so I hope you do too.


Unfinished size 12½”

Cutting Instructions

Making the Bow Block

Making this block will give you some practice in quilt different techniques. You will be piecing, making Dresden plates, half square triangles and a little bit of applique too. Here we go!

To make the Dresden plates:

If you have a Dresden template cut out your pieces as shown by the red arrow (see diagram below).

If you do not have a template it’s easy to make your own. Cut a piece of card 3½” wide x 6” long. Find the centre point across the bottom of the card and mark ¾ inch at either side. Draw a line from the top outer edge to the ¾ inch point and repeat for the other side. Ta da, you have your template.

Fold the Dresden pieces (H) in half and sew along the top using a ¼” seam. Trim the seam edges and turn RS out (there is a picture further on showing the semi-finished plate . PRESS.

To make the Half Square Triangles (HST)

Place one yellow 3” x 3” square (piece D) and one light background (piece E) Right Sides (RS) together. Mark the centre diagonal line. Stitch ¼ inch away from the centre line (or alternatively mark ¼ inch away from the centre line and use this as the seam line). Cut across the centre cutting line.

Tip: use your ¼ inch quilting foot for seam accuracy.

Press the seams open.

Repeat for the second HST.

Trim to 2½” square. This will give you 4 HSTs.

Constructing the Bow

Use ¼ inch seams throughout,

Make the centre block by sewing together pieces A and B. Press

Sew together pieces C and D/E. Press


Take 2 of the G pieces and place them RS facing at either corner of strip F.

Mark the diagonal as shown below and sew along that line.

Trim and Press open.

Repeat for the other side.

Now sew those strips to either side of the centre block using a ¼” seam. Press.

This centre block should measure 9½” x 6½”

Now to add the borders.

Using ¼” seams sew piece I to the top of the centre block and piece J to the bottom. Press.

Sew pieces K to either side. Press and trim/square up if needed.

All that’s left is to place the Dresden pieces (H) in the position you want and top stitch (applique) close to the edge. I unpicked the seam and slotted them underneath and used the ‘top stitching’ to secure the seam but you can do it either way.

Voila, your finished BOW. I made another Bow (Blue) where the Dresden pieces were stitched together down the centre before top stitching on the background – the choice is yours.

Why not try this yourself? It’s quick and easy to make and if you do make one please pop a photo on Twitter: @quiltsewgo or Instagram: quiltsewgo uk_quilters_united

Happy Sewing everyone

Carol L