Crimson Reflections

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Lolita Fashion History

No-Sew DIY Headbow Storage

Skip the intro?

10 years ago, I read this topic on EGL, I distinctly remember the picture of the headbows in a basket, and then, in the comments, there is this short and sweet DIY idea explained. I want to say that at some point, a DIY post was made to EGL with instructions on how to make these and I read it? But I can’t find it now. I also, at some point, read this tutorial published in 2012. And sometime between 2014 and 2016, I went out and bought paper towels to do this craft.

I never made it.

I moved to a new house and brought those same, unused discount paper towels with me. For years I’ve been storing my headbows in these pretty paperboard book boxes and it was good enough. Then, last week, I started tidying up because I wanted to make a lolita wardrobe video, and I realized I had way too many bows for my headbow boxes. So I literally went out to a big box retailer that is a quarter mile from my house, bought all the materials (because I don’t know what happened to the original fabric I bought), including a glue gun because mine had vanished, and knocked this thing out in about an hour ~ an hour and a half.


  • Paper Towels
    Don’t get nice ones, but also don’t get the 50 cent rolls unless you are making this for an actual child, they are too small. At least get the $1 rolls. I used 5.
  • Fabric
    I used 20″ x 15″ for each roll of paper towels. Yours will need to be a little bigger because you are getting larger rolls. 1.5 yards should be enough for 5 rolls.
  • Ribbon
    I used a single 9-foot spool of printed grosgrain ribbon.
  • Silk flowers
    2 flowers per roll of paper towels
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Glue Sticks
    I used like 15
  • Fray Check, clear nail polish or a lighter (Optional)
    This is to finish off the edge of the ribbon so it doesn’t fray
  • Scissors


Step One – Prepare

Get your materials together. If your fabric is not flat and tidy, iron it. It’s going to be very difficult to remove wrinkles and creases after it’s assembled. Plug in your glue gun, and make sure the tip is over something that won’t melt and you don’t mind glue getting on (aka not your carpet).

Step Two – Measure your fabric

Measure your fabric out like you are wrapping a gift. Place the paper towel roll on the fabric standing up and then, tip it over and stand it back up so that you have measured out the length of the tube, plus 2x the diameter of the ends. Mark your spot. For me this was 20″ but yours may be a little bit longer because your roll should be fatter than mine.

Then measure out how much fabric it takes to go all the way around the roll and overlap. You want about 1″-2″ of overlap. For me, this was 15″, but it should be more for you because your paper towel roll should be fatter than mine. Mark this measurement, or put a little snip in the fabric.

Step Three – Cut Your Fabric

Cut out your rectangle of fabric. Again, mine was 20″ x 15″, but yours is most likely a bit bigger than this.

Step Four – Prep Your Paper Towel Rolls

Unwrap your paper towel rolls.

This is a good time to check and make sure that when you put a headbow around the roll, it fits snugly without moving around. You also don’t want it to stretch the headband into a U shape. It should be snug enough to stay put, but not stretching it out.

If it’s too snug, remove extra paper towels until it’s the right size (put them aside to use for cleaning or something later, they are after all, perfectly fine paper towels!). If you have to remove any, or if the end of your roll isn’t glued down, glue it down with a bit of hot glue.

Step Five – Glue the Fabric to the Roll

Hot glue the edge of the fabric to the paper towel roll, covering the seam of the roll.

Wrap the fabric around the roll to get an idea of how much overlap you have. We are going to turn the edge in and glue it (like making a hem, only we are heretics using hot glue). Try to get your glue close to the edge. You want to sacrifice a half inch or less here.

Fold over the edge and crease it. Smash the layers together.

Warning: Hot glue is hot. It will go through your fabric. Don’t burn yourself.

Apparently, I didn’t take a picture of this step, but here is it already rolled around the tube with the edge folded under.

Put some hot glue on top of the end of the fabric that is already glued to the roll…..

And then roll it up. Try to get the fabric tight around your paper towel roll so it’s not baggy. Just like wrapping a present. Press it down and be careful not to burn your fingers with the glue.

If you have a lot of overlap and your seam flap is still sticking up… put some glue on it and stick it down… You can also just put the glue on the flap to start with, but I kept burning my fingers wrapping it when I did it that way and it was harder to get it tight and smooth around the roll.

Put hot glue on the end of the roll and inside the top part of the center tube. Tuck the extra fabric at the ends into the tube. Be careful of your fingers, but do add more glue if any bits are sticking up / not secured. Try to get it as tidy and flat as possible.

It should look roughly like this, only a bit tighter, as yours will be glued and this photo was taken pre-glue.

Repeat this process on all of your rolls, then lay them out like so. Take your ribbon and lay it around your rolls. Space them out about how far you want them spaced out and then measure your ribbon from spool to spool. If you have flat flowers for the end, like daisies, you can pull the ribbon flat along the ends of the tubes, but if you have tall flowers, like roses, use a flower to push the ribbon into the tube to make a cup. This will allow your flower to sit flat against the roll. I’m using a continuous piece of ribbon, but you could cut lengths of ribbon and tuck the ends in each hole of each roll.

Important: turn them all so that the seam is flat against the middle back so when you hang it up, it will face the wall.

If you are not putting this against a wall, face the seam so that it will be “down” when it is hanging up.

Step Six – Add The Hanging Ribbon

For the ends, you have two options. You can let them hang down and be decorative, or, you can tuck the end into the roll. If you let it hang down, cut the tail into a decorative finish and apply an anti-fray solution like fray check or clear nail polish. If you are very brave, you can use a lighter to melt the ends of certain types of ribbon as well, but I’m scared of lighting my projects on fire, so I don’t do that.

If you are using something flat on the ends like a patch, button or flat flower, you can pull the ribbon flat against the tube, but if you have a flower that dips in, use the flower to smash the ribbon in so the flower is flat with the edge of the tube, then put in glue, then push it back in again.

Step Seven -Add End Embellishments

Glue your flowers in over the ribbon to hide the seam. My flowers had dark bits at the base, so I took them off

Now, you have a choice. you can proceed to the net tube and do all the right-hand or left-hand sides in a row. Or you can live dangerously and trust in your measurements and do the other side of the same tube. I took the risky route.

Continue to attach tubes until they are all attached. Make sure the tubes are level (same distance of ribbon between them and the one before/after them on both the left and the right).

And here is the final result with the whole thing glued together. You will be tempted to pick it up and hold it up while it’s just been made – don’t do it! The hot glue needs some time to really get stuck on there good.

I originally hung it on my wall with two command hooks that were supposed to hold 1lbs each. One popped off almost immediately, so I upped it to 3. This was a bad idea. It ended up falling down and the hook peeled a small piece of the paint and plaster off my drywall. So, now I have to patch and paint and hang it up again. Anyways, what I’m saying is, it’s heavy. Use a nail or hook and secure it in a stud in the wall. I’m going to get a cute metal coat hook for mine, I think.


Overall, I think this took me about ~1-2 hours, but it might have been a little less. It’s definitely a project you can do start to finish on a Saturday while watching a movie.


  • Paper Towels – 5 Rolls x $1/ea = $5.00
  • Fabric – 1.5 yards x $3.97/yard = $5.96
  • Ribbon – 9 foot roll x 1 = $3.97
  • Silk Flowers – 2 stems x $3/ea = $6.00
  • Hot Glue Gun = $4.66
  • Glue Sticks – 30 pack = $3.97

Total: $29.56

How do you store your headbows? Do you have something like this? Something different? Are you going to try it? I want to see yours if you make one!

4 comments on “No-Sew DIY Headbow Storage

  1. Oh my, this is brilliant! I’m bookmarking this for when I have my own lolita room because this would be soooo much easier than how I’ve just been stuffing my poor headbows in dresser drawers! Thank you for sharing this tutorial and going so in depth with it!

  2. Haha, yes, I remember this tutorial! The one you’re thinking of was one big long “candy” made from a rolled-up yoga mat. I also considered making one and never got around to it either.

    1. Ah, that must be yet another similar tutorial, because I know the one I was looking at back in the day used paper towels.

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