DIY: Baby Bow Ties

November 14, 2013

by Margaret Cabaniss

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

I am a sucker for bow ties. Blame my Southern alma mater, where they were practically a dress code requirement, but I am firmly convinced they are the dapperest thing a dude can wear. Now put one on a chubby little guy — like the tiny gentleman above — and I am instantly a puddle on the floor.

For this little fellow’s first birthday, I thought a set of tiny bow ties would be appropriate, since he’s the son of a professor and all. (Gotta look sharp for those faculty meetings…) And ok, yes, at least part of me was making them…for me, because I was hoping for a photo op just like this one. Totally worth it.

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

I adapted my pattern only slightly from Hilary’s at One Young Love, who designed them to snap on to the front of onesies. I thought the low-profile bow and snaps were great ideas, particularly for little guys who might yank at a larger bow or protest at an actual tie around the neck. For one-year-old Dominic, I thought it would look even cuter snapped onto a collared shirt, so I picked up this oxford bodysuit at the Baby Gap to go with them (because no dapper baby would dream of crawling around with his dress shirt untucked).

These were actually fun and simple to make (which is why I ended up making him four). Beginning sewers can easily manage it — and, in fact, you can replace almost all the sewing with glueing, if you’re really nervous around a needle and thread.

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

What you’ll need:

  • fabric, any kind you like (I used a cotton, twill, flannel, and linen, so go nuts)
  • coordinating thread
  • snaps
  • glue gun
  • the usual assortment of sewing paraphernalia (scissors, hand-sewing needle, iron, etc.)
  • a onesie or baby dress shirt

DIY: Little Boys' Bowtie

For the body of the tie, cut a piece of fabric 9″x4″; for the center bit, cut another piece 1.5″x3″.

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

Fold the larger piece of fabric in half lengthwise (right sides facing in), and sew around two of the open edges, leaving one end open. Clip the corners (1), turn the tube right-side out (2), and press the seams, turning under the open edge a bit. Finally, sew the open end shut (3). (Don’t worry about hiding your stitches, since this part will be hidden.)

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

On your smaller piece of fabric: Turn under the short ends slightly and press, then fold the long edges in to meet in the middle and press again. Sew or hot glue the ends shut. (I used my glue gun, since it happened to be closest at the time.) Once again, these ends will be hidden, so don’t worry too much about making them pretty.

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

Join the ends of your long piece of fabric to form a loop and whipstitch (or glue) them together. Check out my amazing hand-sewing skills! You guessed it: This part will be hidden, too.

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

Fold your loop in half with the stitched end centered on the back. Pinch the bow in half lengthwise in the center (with those stitches now folded on top), then using a needle and thread, take a stitch through all four layers close to the back of the fold.

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

Fold the outer edges of the tie back toward the center, take another stitch through all the layers, then wrap the center of the bow with your remaining thread and tie it off. (Again, feel free to glue everything here, but be careful of your fingers.)

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

With your bow all “tied,” simply sew or glue the center piece around the middle, with the ends meeting in the back.

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

Cute, right?

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

Next come the snaps (modeled with a different bow tie, because I initially forgot to take pictures of this part). To be honest, this was the step I felt most unsure about — and it’s also the one thing you really should sew, to make sure they’re secure — but they were actually pretty simple to attach.

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

To figure out how far apart they needed to be, I first arranged the flat piece of two snaps on the front of the shirt, as close as I could get them to the top button of the shirt, until I was happy with the layout, then I stitched them in place. This YouTube tutorial explains the process way better than I ever could, so just give it a watch and you’ll have no trouble.

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

With the bottom piece of your snaps attached to the shirt, all that’s left is to line up the prong pieces to sew to the bow. Feed two pins through the back of the snaps, then line up your bow over the pins and mark the spot where they meet with a pencil.

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

Center the top piece of the snap over your mark on the bow, then just repeat the same sewing steps to attach them.

DIY: Little Boys' Bowties

And that’s it! Once you get the hang of it, you can crank out a fleet of these in no time at all. (I sewed snaps while catching up on Game of Thrones. Multitasking genius.) I loved how Hilary attached her bows to a card (via the leftover back pieces of the snaps) to give as a gift; it makes a great presentation, and it also gives the giftee’s mom some more snaps she can use for other shirts.

Now I’m thinking ahead to Christmas gifts for all my other nephews… The vision of matching plaid bow ties for the lot of them might be more cuteness than I can handle. They would be a great choice for a family photo to go in those holiday cards, too. For older kids, I might try this tutorial for a larger, more traditional-looking bow with a velcro neckband instead of snaps — but even with those extra steps, the whole process should still be pretty straightforward. And, of course, for anyone wanting to get the look but skip the sewing, Hilary sells bow tie sets in her Etsy shop.

Now go forth and kit out some dashing little gentlemen.

Images: Margaret Cabaniss (thanks to my sister Jen for sharing her images of the final cuteness)

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1 Zoe Saint-Paul November 14, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Could these be cuter?? (And of course, could *he* be cuter? He looks like a little dapper professor already!) What a great idea. These make such a perfect holiday gift, birthday gift, even a baby shower gift (if you know a boy is arriving). Might not be suitable for a newborn, but a parent could save them.

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Margaret Cabaniss 2 Margaret Cabaniss November 14, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Yeah, the model is definitely upping the cuteness factor here. Put him in a bow tie, and he’s kind of an unstoppable force.

I think this particular tie might dwarf a very new newborn; probably better to wait until they have a little chub on ’em.

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3 Catherine February 26, 2014 at 2:16 pm

I made these for a friend’s new baby. I didn’t follow your directions exactly, but it turns out your tutorial was almost identical to how I figured it out myself. Here are some photos of the finished product: http://tenthousandhourmama.com/2014/02/26/snap-on-baby-bow-ties/

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Margaret Cabaniss 4 Margaret Cabaniss February 26, 2014 at 3:12 pm

They look great, Catherine! And good point about the hot glue; something to keep in mind, if you plan on throwing these in your washing machine…

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5 Sahar August 27, 2014 at 1:33 am

Such a great idea, it looks perfect Margaret, I’m gonna make one for my baby

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6 Rachel R. March 30, 2016 at 8:07 pm

Has anyone who made these for littler guys found that they needed to be scaled down at all (the actual bow part)? I’m wondering if this will be too oversized for my 2yo as-is.

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7 Rachel R. March 30, 2016 at 8:08 pm

Oops; sorry. Wrong website!

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8 Sandra Harnett February 17, 2017 at 9:42 pm

Hi did you make very cute cap?

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