Bows can show up in many forms: the functional sort that tie and produce a three-dimensional bow, or the kind that are applied (whether embroidery, applique, painting, etc.) and are flat and immoveable. Bows have been a sweet, feminine detail added to clothes for centuries, and still are favored by many designers to add a bit of whimsy to modern clothes. Perhaps one of the easiest to sew embellishments you can tack on to any project, here is a roundup of both functional and applied bows.
This first, oversized and glitzy example is from the Erin Fetherston spring/summer 2012 collection. The appliqued shoulder bow is a detail that shows up often in 1940s fashion as well, and is a great way to bring the eye up to the neckline or shoulder. While this example is glamorously encrusted with beads, other options could be self or contrast fabric applique or even ribbon.
A more tailored style with a bit of white binding. I really adore how this particular bow works with the binding along the front opening; almost acting as a “bookend” to the trim and finishing what could be an awkward stop with elegance. Tailored bows are perhaps the easiest to incorporate into modern styles as well, since they are not as overly fussy and obtrusive.
Fluffy, tied neckline bows are a perennial favorite. A delightfully summery striped blouse, the bow is worked into a neat and tailored collar that splits at the center back. This particular bow style would look just as perfectly placed on a lower neckline or even at the waist of a skirt or dress. These full, tied bows are quite easy to make out of a few rectangles of self or contrast fabric. (For more structure, add a lightweight interfacing like silk organza.)