The little girl I drive in my carpool was wearing these cute ribbon barrettes the other day, and it kicked me back to my childhood and those braided ribbon barrettes we all used to wear.  C’mon, you know you had about 17 pairs.  My mom used to make them for me in whatever color I wanted, complete with the dangling tails of ribbon and even little square beads on the end.

I kind of had to make some.  Since I don’t have a girl, I asked my carpool daughter if she’d like some, and she agreed.  I found some instructions online, and I busted some out today.

these were the first ones I made

What do you think?  They’re pretty easy to make once you get the hang of it.  I have a few suggestions, though, to go along with the instructions you can find here.  I’m going to duplicate their instructions with my modifications below.

You’ll need:

1.  Cut two strips of 1/8″ satin ribbon, in complementary colors, to 1 yard each.

2.  Line the ribbons up together and stack one ribbon on top of the other.  Start directly in the middle (the halfway point of the ribbon); don’t worry about the ends at this point.  Just the very center needs to be stacked cleanly.

3.  Put the ribbon under the double bars at the clasp end of the barrette.  The instructions I found tell you to do this on the opposite side, but then when you are finished you have an upside-down barrette, so that’s not good.  Make sure you have an even amount of ribbon on either side of the barrette.

4.  Start braiding by taking the right hand ribbons and feeding them over the first bar and under the second bar.  You need to keep them stacked.  You will end up with one color of the ribbon covering the right bar on the barrette.

5.  Now you’ve got two ends of the ribbons both on the left side.  Take the ribbon you did NOT just feed through on the right, and feed it over the left bar and under the right.  Make sure you are feeding it so the same color you just used is on top.

6.  Now you’re back to having one end of the ribbons on each side.  Next, take the right hand ribbon (which is the one you just worked) and fold it over, feeding it through the right bar and under the left (like you did in step 4).  You should now have your other color on top.  Once you’ve got that through, pick up the other ribbons and feed them through, over the left bar and under the right, just like you did in step 5.  Again, you should have the other color working on top this time.

7.  Continue braiding, alternating colors, until you get to the end of the barrette.  The action is a little awkward, especially since you have two slippery ribbons that you are trying to keep totally flush with each braid.  The best method I devised is to fold the ribbon over and secure it with your thumb while you feed the rest of the ribbon through.  Once you’ve pulled it relatively tight, you can release your thumb and adjust.  Here’s a kind of step by step of that:

When you get to the bottom, it’ll look like this:

8.  To secure it, I tie a double knot at the end.

You want to leave the 8″ or so of strings hanging, since that’s part of the point.  You can trim them even and you can add beads to the bottom by threading one on, tying a knot at the end of the ribbon, and letting it hang.  I haven’t been able to get my hands on any of those cube wooden beads we used in the 80s, so I haven’t embellished with beads yet.

Cute, though, right?  Am I totally out of the loop since I have boys, and have you ladies with girls brought these back ages ago?  I’m gonna give it some thought and try out some variations, and maybe I can make everything old new again.  Too bad I don’t have a girl who can wear them.

Look at me, doing crafts that aren’t even part of the Massive Craft Undertaking.  What am I thinking?  I guess I’m high on crafting, folks.



Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

  • May 14, 2010, 4:04 am Christine

    Thank you posting!! I had many of these barrettes also. I remember making them too! I bet you could sell them!!

  • May 14, 2010, 1:56 pm Charlotte

    I’ll take ‘em for Sadie! I totes remember these, yet I am not crafty.

  • May 15, 2010, 7:41 pm Amy In Australia

    Cute!! What a blast from the past! Can I be your carpool daughter?

  • May 18, 2010, 7:00 pm Becky

    Somebody stop her before she crafts again!

    Can’t believe I missed this post last week. I used to love those things (still do). I should make some for my Laura. Or maybe she can be your blog daughter?!? :)

    • May 18, 2010, 7:25 pm bethpc

      You know what? Perhaps she can. Tell me what her favorite colors are… :-)

  • January 13, 2011, 5:18 pm Miranda

    Where is the best place to find the double bar barrettes?

    • January 13, 2011, 7:46 pm bethpc

      You can generally find them at drug stores & places like Walmart or Target. Goody & Scunci both make versions. I’ve been trying to find a source for larger quantities with no success lately…

      • December 3, 2011, 1:35 pm savemcgee

        Sometimes you can find then at your Dollar Store or 99Cent Store.

    • December 21, 2011, 11:11 am Shannon

      I recently ordered a set of twelve from Oriental Trading. They were a little flimsier than I remember. Other craft companies, like Michaels or Hobby Lobby or Joanns might have something also.

  • February 25, 2011, 12:33 am Chinnu

    These are so pretty. Thanks for an easy tutorial. Am sure to make lots of these as gifts!!

  • March 31, 2011, 3:29 pm Ashley

    I love these my moms gonna make them 4 me (:

  • March 31, 2011, 4:01 pm Magickisme

    I love making these…we added feathers and glass beads…Big and little girls enjoy them.

  • October 8, 2011, 2:52 pm Jenna's MeeMaw

    Thank you so much for posting this!! I used to make these all the time when I was growing up in the 80′s and wanted to make some for my grand daughter, but couldn’t find instructions anywhere until I thought to put “80′s” in the search bar and up came this post! You’ve made a little girl and her grandma VERY

  • December 15, 2011, 11:58 am Tari

    THANK YOU!!! You are the only person who gave a pictorial along with the instructions, you made it so easy. It came right back to me as though it was the 80′s!

    • December 15, 2011, 12:16 pm Beth

      You are welcome!

  • January 2, 2012, 10:52 am Jennifer

    Thank You I have been wanting to make these with my Girl Scouts. We plan on adding beads and feathers, especially since feathers are “in”. Maybe the girls will start a new trend in their schoool :)

  • January 2, 2012, 10:07 pm ALBERTA


    • January 2, 2012, 10:08 pm Beth

      Thanks for visiting! So glad it was helpful. :-)

  • February 9, 2012, 9:58 am carlye

    Thanks for the instructions! I was trying to explain these to my daughters….now I can make them! Your instructions were perfect.


  • February 19, 2012, 1:32 pm Waiks

    wow thanks for posting the instructions…i wore these, and i had beads and feathers attached to the ribbon ends!! =)

  • March 8, 2012, 2:07 pm franni

    These are cool!!!!! I’m gonna make some in my school’s colors with feathers…!

  • April 4, 2012, 10:24 am Susie Cooke-Erskine

    WOW! I love these! I wish we’d thought of this back in the 60′s. They are so pretty and can be made in so many different ways, colors, beads etc. Thanks! I’d never even seen them. (shows you how old I am). LOL

  • April 19, 2012, 8:19 pm Charley Chandler

    Thank you so much for sharing the directions. I saw them on fb but w/out directions. I can’t wait to make some for all my granddaughters but especially my 16yr old w/her school colors.

  • May 16, 2012, 7:12 pm michelle

    where can you buy the open center barrets??? I’ve looked @ wal-mart, kMart, Target, etc??? Say them on eBay for $12 – that’s crazy!!

    • May 16, 2012, 8:41 pm Beth

      I can usually find them at Target, but you can always order them on Amazon if you can’t find them. Try the link I added to my tutorial page; it will take you to Amazon. 3 pairs for $5.00.

    • December 26, 2013, 7:51 pm Jane

      • December 26, 2013, 7:55 pm Jane

        to purchase the barrettes: Ribbon and bows oh my (url)
        They are un TN.

    • December 26, 2013, 8:04 pm Jane

      to purchase barrettes: Ribbon and bows oh my.
      10 bars for $2.85, shipping-$3.15 (about)
      Love them,

  • May 29, 2012, 7:29 am Lisa G

    I do remember these from the 80s and I too made them in EVERY color combo! Your pics are great, very nicely done tute! I have a couple comments, though. One based on the fact that I started to follow your instructions & realized something. The instructions that you had originally read, stating to start at the “hinge” end of the barrette instead of the “clip” end were actually correct. Or at least it’s a correct variation. It depends where you want the ribbons to hang once the barrette is in your hair. In your picture at the top it doesn’t really matter, because it’s all the way on the back of your head. If, however, you are wearing the barrette more on the side of your head and the ribbons hang down at the “hinge” end they’ll end up right near your face. You want them towards the back, which is the opening end of the barrette. So in that case you do want to start the ribbons at the “hinge” end, so they end up by the opening end & away from your face. Without a graphic I hope that makes sense. Other comment is that you can also do this with the “contour clip” kind of barrettes! You know, the ones that you bend in the middle to snap shut? Though I did use the double bar ones when I made them years ago, I was thinking how my daughter would probably like these but she’s only 6. Those double bar ones are both a little large for her small head, and a little trickier for her little fingers to operate. I thought I’d try using these other kinds & see if it can work, since they are super easy for her to put on & take off by herself. Yes! There is a large-ish metal end that doesn’t get covered by the braiding (the double bar ones don’t have that b/c the bars are split the whole length of the barrette), but I did a little extra wrapping at the start to cover at least part of it, and I’m sure I could do something even better once I play around some more. Might require some glue. Not sure how to send/post a pic, but I could take one if you like. Again, though, thanks for making such a clear & thorough tutorial, really got me excited to make some of these for the little princess! :-)

    • May 29, 2012, 4:36 pm Beth

      Thanks for your comment, Lisa! You are right about which end to start at. I was making them remembering them back in the 80s, when we wore one on each side, and we clipped them so the barrette was totally vertical. In that case, you want them with the ribbons hanging on the hinge end. But today, kids wear the barrettes more horizontally, in which case, it can be better to have them on the other side. I actually did another tutorial showing how to add ribbons to *both* ends, since so many girls now wear them in the back of the head, and it’s nice to have ribbons on both sides. You can see that here:

      I’d LOVE to see your ribbon barrettes with contour clips! You can send me a photo to my email ( and if you want, I can do a little post on it and link back to you (if you have a place to link!). Thanks again for visiting!

  • August 21, 2012, 3:44 pm aine and chloe

    thank you for posting such clear directions! i’m going to make these for my daughter and seeing your pics got her really excited. she is a determined headband wearer but has super thick hair so most headbands don’t stay and then she can’t see and it that makes me crazy. i think these barrettes could be the answer to our problems, and will be totally nostalgic for me. thanks

    • August 21, 2012, 5:16 pm Beth

      So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for visiting.

  • August 28, 2012, 9:38 am Rosemary

    I just found these instructions and got the materials so that I could try them with my 9 1/2 year old granddaughter. Great instructions, easy to follow but I think before I get her to try them I will get some tiny safety pins to pin each end strand together (hope that makes sense) and to make them a bit easier to thread into the barrette. I think she might like to add a few sparkly beads to the end strands once finished — they seem to like fancy hair stuff.
    Thanks again.

    • August 28, 2012, 12:20 pm Beth

      Safety pins would be great! It is a little tricky for small hands. Let me know if it helps!

  • September 21, 2012, 6:03 pm Linda

    I did make these for my 2 girls back in the late 70′s. We were just talking about them the other day. Glad I found this site as I forgot how to make them! Thanks much!!!

    • September 21, 2012, 7:13 pm Beth

      Thanks for visiting, Linda!

  • December 16, 2012, 5:26 pm Edie

    Just a little note regarding step 3: if you are planning to use two hair bows (one pulling hair up from each side of the face with a center part), you’ll want them to be “upside-down.” This is how I wore my hair as a child. I’ve done some in both ways for my girls & they always turn out cute. Thanks for the tutorial! I’d often wondered about these little flashback treasures.

    • December 16, 2012, 5:47 pm Beth

      Thanks for the tip, Edie! And thanks for stopping by.

  • January 4, 2013, 8:27 pm jennifer

    My Mom made these for my sister and our friends when we were kids. She would always put beads on the end of the ribbons.

  • January 28, 2013, 9:26 pm Suzanne

    Just finished making an assortment of barrette”s for my granddaughter. I did find that if you tape the ends with scotch tape the ends are easier to thread.

  • February 6, 2013, 11:14 am Lisa

    Thank you so much for remembering! I recall making these w/ my mom in California when I was 4! My friend and I were trying to remember how to do these for our Daisy Girl scouts who will be representing Jamaica on World thinking day In a couple weeks. now we be stylin’ mon!

    • February 6, 2013, 11:36 am Beth

      So glad I could help! :-)

  • March 3, 2013, 4:19 pm grammie deb

    I m so excited. Iwant to make these for my little twin friends and I made them for our daughters in th 80′s but I’be lost the instructions. Thanks!

  • April 12, 2013, 6:48 am Melissa

    Thanks so much for these clear instructions. To make it easier for my Brownie troop, I put tape on the ends of the ribbons to hold the two together and to make threading them through the barrette a bit easier.

    • April 15, 2013, 8:33 am Beth

      Great idea, Melissa!

  • June 20, 2013, 6:07 am marianne

    Loved mine to pieces litterly it was a rainbow my favourite hair accessory

  • August 11, 2013, 6:02 pm SR

    I made many of those years ago ~ for my daughters, as well as for their friends. Recently, I found a pair I had made for one of my daughters, and was thinking I’d like to make for HER daughters now. Thanks for the directions!

  • August 21, 2013, 5:58 pm kathy

    I am trying to do these and I agree with having the ribbons at the bottom of the barrette vs. the clasp, but trying to do this without showing the metal of the barrette is a challenge. Any tricks?

  • October 8, 2013, 7:35 am Frances Chiasson

    can you give me website as to where I can order these barretts in bulk. We are located in La and I need to order some for craft show.

    • October 8, 2013, 7:49 am Beth

      I’ve never found any place to order them in bulk.

  • October 12, 2013, 9:06 pm Krista

    This had me so excited to make these, and it WAS THE HARDEST THING EVER!!!!!!! Not only that but it looks like CRAP! I have no idea what i did wrong, but i definitely did something wrong. So frustrated.

    • October 14, 2013, 10:57 am Beth

      So sorry it was so hard, Krista! Usually when something goes wrong, it’s that you wove one of the wrong ribbons through. Look again at steps 4 – 6. When you start, you weave the right hand ribbons through to the left. Here’s where people often make a mistake, because now you have TWO sets of ribbons on one side. Make sure you pick the right ribbons to weave back over to the right. You MUST weave the ribbons you did NOT just weave through from left to right. If you weave the same ribbons you just did, it looks super weird. Let me know if that helps at all.

  • October 16, 2013, 10:44 am J.F.

    I remember the problem of having upside down barrettes, but think it depends on which way the girl is going to put hers in. If a girl is going to clip it in from front (front facing towards back of head) then ribbons would need to start on hinge end and end on the clasp end. If barrette will go in on side and upwards then ribbons should come down on hinged end, right?

    • October 16, 2013, 11:13 am Beth

      Exactly! I don’t think most girls wear barrettes either of these ways these days, though. Most of them wear them in the back, where it doesn’t really matter which end the ribbons come from. :-)

  • October 30, 2013, 12:26 am Elizabeth Darsey

    I LOVE these barrettes! I could never remember how to make them when my daughters were younger… kind of figures that I’d figure it out once they’re too old for me to do their hair in cute hair styles (just no fun once they become teenagers! LOL).

    But I saw that you mentioned having a problem finding the little beads and such… A lot of times you can find a small variety at Wal-Mart, but the better bet it to find the small, independent hair-supply stores (they’re always in the little strip malls around here). Especially if you can find the stores that stock a lot of products for styling African-American hair, you’ll hit the jackpot! Whether it’s wooden beads, plastic, transparent… all shapes, sizes, colors… I could go broke buying hair stuff in these shops! Granted, that’s the one bad thing about having two daughters with long, thick beautiful hair not to mention having a head-full of long, thick hair myself!

    You can also find them on both Amazon and, just search for “hair beads” or even craft beads! That’s the great thing about these barrettes, there is very little in the way of limitations!

    Thanks for the refresher on the ‘how-to’ part!

    Good luck!


    • October 30, 2013, 6:51 am Beth

      Thanks, Elizabeth! But you realize now that you’ve probably passed on your addiction to buying these things! :-)

  • April 15, 2014, 12:45 pm Nita

    The BEST directions anywhere on how to make these cute barrettes. Don’t feel bad that you don’t have a daughter. I have a daughter, but she’s 30! So I’m making these for a young mom who has two daughters. Now all their friends want one or more!!!

    • April 15, 2014, 12:57 pm Beth

      Thank you, Nita!

  • May 4, 2014, 11:48 am Carie

    Thanks for the idea with starting the ribbon at the opposite side of the barrette, The knot at the clasp has been bugging me since I started making theses.

  • November 20, 2014, 6:36 pm Sarah

    You might have boys, but you’ve helped this mom bring a bit of her fun childhood memories to life for her girls! Thanks for the easy step by step instructions!! :)

  • May 10, 2015, 10:51 pm jULIANNE`KOERNER

    Believe it or not, I was one of those crazy moms that made these braided barrettes for my daughters all through preschool until about 6th grade when they rolled their eyes at me and said plezzzz mom. However, I am trying to start up a small craft business along with my scrapbooking hobby,”which my husband wishes his aunts never showed me how to do” but I started buying cute little figures on ebay and want to try them out on different ideas, and braided barrettes came to mind, unfortunately the method did not! Thanks for the directions. Julianne

  • September 4, 2017, 12:13 pm Paula

    I’ve been looking for a tutorial — I had three girls and made them by the dozens. Now I have granddaughters I’d like to make them for. Thanks!