DIY: Oversized Festive Bows from the Thread Maker in London

“Bows bring joy,” explains Zara Peters, founder of Thread Maker. “They just have this way of making everything feel festive and special.” We couldn’t agree more. And what we particularly love about these statement bows is that they are handmade to order and come in a beautiful range of understated, natural fabrics.

If you’d like to make your own, join us for a tutorial, courtesy of Zara, who took these photos.

“i use one of the oldest sewing machines around and it works perfec 9
Above: “I use one of the oldest sewing machines around and it works perfectly for this project,” says Zara. (Note the little bow tied to the back of the chair, too.)

Thread Maker began in 2020 with “a little lockdown wedding.” Zara—a life-long maker who started her first craft club at the age six—made an oversized hair bow clip for her friend’s big day. More commissions followed: some were massive, some were dainty: many were made from off-cuts of vintage fabrics Zara had sourced from antique markets and eBay. “The biggest I’ve made so far used five meters of linen,” Zara says. It was affixed to the back of a convertible vintage BMW: an alternative to the traditional “just married” string of tin cans.

This time last year, Zara’s bows morphed into festive decorations. “The idea is that these can be used year after year to adorn the top of your tree, your front door, or mantlepiece—anywhere in need of some festive cheer,” she explains.

Zara’s bows are available to purchase exclusively via Straw London—an expertly curated homeware and gift shop on Columbia Road. Alternatively, if you’re handy with a sewing machine, Zara has devised a method for creating a homemade version of her jumbo, cheer-bringing bows below.

Materials and supplies

zara has inherited many of her making materials from her grandmothers, both of  10
Above: Zara has inherited many of her making materials from her grandmothers, both of whom were professional seamstresses and weavers. “Making is in my blood,” she says.

You will need:

  • 1 meter of extra-wide linen
  • A sewing machine
  • An iron and scissors
  • Needle and thread for hand finishing
  • 1 meter of bamboo lining
  • Luxury velvet ribbon

Step 1:

Iron your fabric and cut it into three pieces: one rectangle for the main body of the bow (18″ x 35″ or 45cm x 90cm); one rectangle for the tails (47″ x 16″ or 120cm x 40cm), and one small rectangle (6″ x 2″ or 15cm x 5cm) to sew around the middle of the bow. These measurements are approximates only: you can play around with sizing depending on what type of bow you’re after—subtle or showstopper.

zara uses linen from a range of suppliers. this rust gingham is 100% european  11
Above: Zara uses linen from a range of suppliers. This rust gingham is 100% European linen from Straw London.

Step 2:

Start with the main body of the bow. Fold the fabric in half lengthways and sew the edges together. This piece will be turned inside out, so make sure you sew the “right side” of the fabric together. (I always press the seams open with an iron after each stage, as this keeps the edges neat and tidy.)

Step 3:

Turn the fabric inside out so the “right side” is showing and insert the bamboo lining, which should be cut to the same dimensions as the main body of the bow. (The lining doesn’t need to be stitched in place, as it will hold its position once the bow is gathered together.)

the bamboo lining gives the bow “puffiness” and struct 12
Above: The bamboo lining gives the bow “puffiness” and structure.

Step 4:

With the lining in place, fold the main body of the bow in half again widthwise (“right sides” together) and sew the end together again. (Remember to press your seams again.) Turn the fabric inside out one last time and the main body of your bow is ready. Set aside.