Some Swag and Bottle Service

Wedding Planning

Alas, this post is not about any bachelorette-style shenanigans. No, today I have another diy-decoration update because that seems to be what my life revolves around at this point!

Wall Swags


It’s practically unheard-of for a venue to allow brides to hang anything on the walls, but we have permission to do so for our reception space and to pass that opportunity up would be almost criminal. Granted, the “walls” are actually screens with regularly-spaced pillars, but it’s enough. I look at it like hanging your first piece of artwork or framed photo in your new apartment–it feels more like your own space and less like a rental.

To take advantage of this golden opportunity, I created mesh, ribbon, and grape swags for each of the 8 pillars in the room. They’re not huge, but I’m hoping it will add a slightly more custom feel to the space just by being there.

Deco mesh seems to be having quite the crafting hey-dey but frankly? After making 8 (9 counting the smaller one that I’m using on our program basket) swags out of them I am less than impressed. It’s not very resilient and frays like a–well, like something that falls apart at the least provocation–leaving a trail of plastic strands all over my living room. That said, it does fill space fairly well and is lightweight, which can certainly be important.

I layered brown/coppery and gold deco meshes with some moss green ribbon and tied all of it together with plastic-coated wire. I used the tails of the wire to secure a bunch of faux grapes to the center of the bundle, twisting what was left into a hanging loop at the top of the bunch. Once everything was secured it was just a matter of man-handling the mesh into alternating loops (this being where that lack of resiliency came into play) and spreading out the ribbons.

Once all of that was done, I thought it would be nice to add some length to the arrangement with 3 hanging corks. Into the top of each cork I pushed in (with the help of some pliers) some eye-pins, opening the eye enough to slip a ribbon into. I used 9″, 12″, and 15″ lengths of ribbon, tied it onto the eye and closed it up, knotting a set of 3 together for each swag. It was easiest to loop the ribbon clusters through the wire loop at the top of each swag and tie it off.

I’m wondering now if it wouldn’t have been better to use slightly shorter and darker ribbons. Oh well, a done project is a done project at this point and I’m not going to let ribbon color worry me now!

Cocktail Hour Centerpieces


While I finished our dinner decorations a while back, I hasn’t done much in the way of decorations for the high-top tables we’d have for our guests to congregate around at our cocktail hour. They’ll have the standard long, white, tablecloths tied with a chocolate ribbon but I didn’t want the tops completely bare.

Looks like another opportunity to use some of my bottle stash!

I gave each bottle a quick painting of grapes, leaves, and vines using a mixture of gloss enamel and pearlescent glass stain paints (literally mixing 2 or more similar shades of each type to get the best qualities of each). The end result was a mixture of translucent portions and visible, swirly brush strokes that are, admittedly, a bit tough to photograph but look quite nice in person. I’m happy with them at least!

To go around the base of each is a small wreath. I’d purchased a roll of moss-covered grapevine garland when I ordered all those beads to put in the bottles and used 3′ lengths to make wreaths just the right size. Then I draped beaded garland over the wreaths, securing it with some pieces of moss-flocked wire, and added a bow where the ends of the garland meet–partly for pretty, partly for camouflage!

This is also the point where I tone down my ire (a little) for craft stores putting out Christmas decorations when we’re not even close to Halloween, yet, since that’s where I found ivory and maroon garlands.

Candy Corn Pennant Garland

64 Arts
Candy Corn Pennant Garland

Candy Corn Pennant Garland

BYOP 6 Party Favors, 2009

BYOP 6 Party Favors, 200

Last year I designed some Candy Corn Gift Bags as a party favor for my almost-annual pumpkin carving party. I made 4 dozen and ended up with 17 leftover. Since I don’t like to repeat party favors from year to year, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with them but I couldn’t just throw them out!

Fast forward to brainstorming project ideas for the 14th & 15th arts and viola! Total lighbulb moment: with their handles removed, the bags look very pennant-like and pennants are very big right now in party decorations. It seemed to me like the perfect opportunity to up-cycle my leftover treat bags and add another decoration to my growning stash of fall/Halloween decor.

First you need the bags. My eHow article from last September gives full, step-by-step instructions for making the bags to be used as party favors. If, however, you want to go straight to the garland, skip the pressing and hemming of the top edge in step 4 and stop when you get to the end of Step 7.

In my case, though, I needed to remove the ribbons and buttons that create the handle of the bags and press them flat. I thought about ripping out the hem, as well, but decided to save myself the trouble. The buttons were easy enough to remove with a single flick of a seam ripper.

To complete the garland, you’ll need:

  • 17 candy corn gift bags
  • 1 yard patterned fabric or 3 yards 2″ ribbon
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine, needle and thread
Cutting the fabric into strips Start by cutting the patterned fabric into 4-inch-wide strips.

I had this remnant in my stash that was 1 yard by 40 inches. 3 strips, even though I’ll lose 2 inches when joining them together, gives me plenty of length (118 inches) to span the 8-foot (96-inch) opening where I plan to hang this banner. The extra length (11 inches on each side) provides enough of a tail that we can easily tie up the banner when finished.

Making Non-Bias Tape Make Non-Bias Tape*

After we’ve joined the strips together (1/2-inch seam allowance) and pressed those seams open, we press the very long strip of fabric in half, lengthwise, wrong sides facing.

Open up the pressed fabric and fold each side in towards the center, pressing once again. You can pin this if you want, but it’s simple enough just to fold it as you press and save the time.

Finally, fold the fabric over along that first fold, lining up the outside edges and pressing a final time. This holds all the folds in place and keeps raw edges inside, creating a nice, clean edge to slip our pennants into.

Math Time!

8 feet = 96 inches

17 pennants, 3.5 inches wide = 59.5 inches

96 – 59.5 = 36.5 inches

36.5 / 16 spaces = 2.28 inches

Now those math classes come in handy. (In case you ever wondered when you’d use them.)

To get a nice, even garland we need to be able to space our pennants evenly. To do this, take the total length of your banner, subtract the amount of space the pennants take up and then divide that space by the number of spaces there will be between the pennants (# of pieces minus 1).

To make things easy I rounded down slightly and will put 2 1/4 inches between each of the pennants.

That wasn’t so hard, now, was it?

Spacing the candy corns Find the center of the non-bias tape and (with the fold opening downward) place your first pennant inside the fold. Measure 2.25 inches from the edge of the pennant and place the edge of the next pennant at that point, pinning in place.

Continue in one direction until you’ve placed 8 candy corn in addition to the center corn.

Rather than having to measure both sides, once I got the first side pinned I flipped over the tape–still folded in half–and matched up the rest of the candy corns so that both sides were even.

If you’re using 2″ tape instead of fabric, just fold the tape in half over the tops of the pennants and pin in place. Pressing is optional but recommended.

Sewing the pennants onto the tape Sew along the bottom edge of the tape–about 1/4-inch from the edge–slowing down slightly as you go over the edges of the pennants since the extra bulk could easily break a needle.

When you get to the end it’s a good idea (but, again, optional) to sew another line along the top edge of the tape. This keeps the tape fairly sturdy while it hangs and prevents flattening or bunching when washed or stored by trapping the top edges of the pennant in place.

Technically, we’re done, but there’s always one or two more finishing steps that can be added to make the project that much nicer.

Sewing no-tie bows Since I had the ribbon leftover from the removed handles, I thought they’d make nice bows on the front of each pennant. The only wrinkle was that the lengths were short and I wanted to sew a button on each center–the bulk would have been hard to manage with a traditional bow.

Instead, I folded each length of ribbon in half and sewed a quick seam a third of the way down from the fold. Ganging them one after the other on the sewing machine made this step go quickly and saved numerous starts and stops.

Attaching the bows and buttons After separating each loop from the “ribbon raft,” open up a single loop and squash the top down to the seam, creating a bow. Position this along the bottom edge of the tape at the center of each pennant and sew in place, along with a decorative button.

Since my garland is visible both from the dining room as well as the living room/entry, I alternated sides for my bow and button placement. I also found that by hiding the stitches under the bottom edge of the tape, they can’t be seen on the non-decorated side.

I used 4 1-inch cup hooks suspended from my ceiling to hang the garland, the two ends tied to the outer hooks and the 2 center hooks placed 31 inches in from each edge. If you wanted more swag to your banner, spread the pennants out a bit more and increase the length of your tape to allow more of a bow in your banner. I kept mine rather straight so that tall folks (unlike my 5’4″ self) won’t have to duck.

Visit thecsiproject.comI don’t know about you, but we love Halloween–it’s our favorite holiday! And now that Labor Day has passed we’re already starting to decorate. This banner is the first bit to go up and it’s making me smile every time I see it.

Have you started your decorating yet?

Coincidentally, the theme for this week’s CSI project is Fall so I’m linking up with those fabulous crafters. Make sure to check out all the fun fall projects over at the CSI project!

Candy Corn Pennant Garland

*Actual bias tape is cut on the bias–diagonally against the grain–but folded and pressed the same. Fabric cut on the bias flows and stretches more than straight-cut fabric which makes it easier to edge items with non-straight edges.

Cunning with Scissors

64 Arts

(that’s me trying to be cute–is it working? lol)

When’s the last time you folded up a piece of paper and cut out a string of paper dolls? Come to think of it, have you ever?

I know I haven’t done that in ages, but while brainstorming “cutting paper” it was the next thing to come to mind after yesterday’s eyebrow templates. And, sure, it’s a bit old-fashioned and all but I think there’s some serious potential left in this forgotten rainy-day project.

Time to put on the thinking-tiara! (I’m not really a hat type of girl)

First, let’s look at the basic mechanics of this art:

  • Long piece of paper (or short pieces connected) folded accordion style
  • A design that extends just off the folded edges in at least one place per side
  • Simple designs that work well repeated

Symmetrical designs work really great (like the paper doll) because every other panel is going to be backwards. This is why words are kinda tough to do unless you’re dealing with a palindrome (wow, for instance, would be fun because it reads the same pretty much any way except upside down, then it’s mom and, well, depending on the application that could work, too!).

Besides being something like a magic trick to little ones (viola! a string of shapes from just a few cuts!), what practical applications are there for these things?

  • Party decorations–either suspended across doorways or hanging down in the windows
  • Table decorations–spruce up your disposable tablecloth by accordion folding it and cutting out a patter of the lower 6 inches or so!
  • Wrapping decorations–a little craft spray and it can dress up any package wrapped with plain paper (wrapping paper, because it already comes in long lengths, works great for paper garlands, too)
  • Modern art–use some fun papers and place them in an inexpensive frame for some unique wall art
  • Clothing mods–use fabric and pinking shears (or felt and regular scissors) to make a fun border for hems, necklines or totes
  • Shaped cards–use a large design with at least 3 panels and make a card that can stand up on a desk or mantle; an egg-shaped card would be perfect for the upcoming holiday!

What other ways could this technique be used? I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface!