Isobel’s school kicked off the end of October by celebrating Red Ribbon Week, and in addition to creating a personal challenge for me to not say Red Wibbon Week, kids were invited to dress up in a different theme each day for two weeks. My birthday just happened to coincide with Nerd Day, something I took as a point of pride, because I have self-identified as a nerd almost as long as other people identified me as one. Pride in being a nerd has existed the whole of Isobel’s little life, but for me it’s a badge of honor earned through all those years of braces and glasses and marching band and quoting Star Trek. To be honest Isobel has no idea what a nerd is, but her teacher described items a nerd might wear, such as bow ties (I know, I know: bow ties are cool), suspenders, glasses, ties. Isobel saw all this “manly stuff”, as she called it, and wanted no part of this dress up day.
I drop her off and pick her up from class every day and told her I was going to dress up but she didn’t have to. I’d proudly volunteer as Nerd Tribute. She didn’t need to fulfill her nerd heritage to undoubtedly possess it. But I did ask her to help me with a quick google search for “pink bow ties.” The results popped up and I could see the expression on her face clearly read hold the fucking phone! These were cute! And pink! Nerds were all right with her if they wore pink bow ties. She had to have one.
Seeing as how we were out of both time and money to buy one in time for Nerd Day, we set about making one. It was cheap, easy, and didn’t take more than a half hour, including the experimental bow I made first to be sure I could actually do it. I made it with supplies we already have on hand. I let Isobel choose the fabric, and fortunately she chose felt, which, looking back on it, I don’t think I could have made it so easily with a different type of fabric.
Here’s how I did it.
- felt squares
- needle & thread
- glue gun
- measuring tape
- safety pin or elastic
— Cut the felt in a rectangle so that when folded in half it’s about 5 inches by 2.5 inches. You’ll notice that the blue felt (my practice piece) has the crease on one edge. This resulted in a cute but asymmetrical. For the pink polka dot fabric, which was our final draft, I had the fold of the fabric at the top of the bow (which you can see in the photos). This made each side of the bow symmetrical.
— Cut a strip of contrasting or coordinating fabric in a long rectangle to about 3.5 inches by one inch. Really, it could probably be 3 inches and work just fine. I cut mine a little long to be sure but I’d make it a bit shorter if I had to do it again. There is no fold in this strip.
–Take the folded rectangle in your hand and pinch it together in the middle to create the bow. Now you get to decide if you want a longer, skinnier bow tie or a fatter, fuller one. Isobel chose the fatter one. If you scroll down you’ll see photos of each type next to each other. The size and shape of the bow depend on which direction you scrunch, horizontally or vertically.
–When you pinch the middle together you want three clearly defined wrinkle bunchies, two that indent and one that sticks out. This photo shows what those wrinkles look like. Thread a needle and run the needle and thread through top to bottom a few times to secure. I also wrapped the thread around the middle a few times, too.
–Wrap the contrasting or coordinating rectangle of fabric around the middle and secure with a glue gun. When dry you can attach the bow to your clothes using safety pins or by attaching elastic to the bow and wearing it like a necklace. We used safety pins because she wanted the option of turning it into a hair bow later.
Isobel participated in the craft and while I was making her bow she made me one of my own.
I thought Isobel looked fantastic all dressed up for school, but I guess her teachers disagreed. All the kids who dressed up that day were promised Nerds candy but it was decided that Isobel was not dressed “nerd” enough to qualify. I was enraged but Isobel didn’t really care. To make up for it two of my friends sent her awesome nerd presents to celebrate and for that she was over the moon. Isobel learned a lesson about not needing the validation of others to be yourself and that nerds take care of their own.