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.

4, 5 and 6-fold ribbon roses

Paper Petals, Part 1

64 Arts

Picture this. You’re in the mood to make something floral but there’s a few impediments to your creative zen:

  • You possess neither a green thumb nor a neighbor’s garden from which to pilfer.
  • Your craft room comes up shy in the silk flower department.
  • It’s way too late to go to the craft store (or you don’t want to spend a lot of money or just don’t want to get dressed to go out–I know, I’ve been there).

What do you do?

Do you have

  • Papers or ribbons?
  • Scissors or craft punches?
  • Glue or tape?
  • A bobby pin (optional, but helpful)?

Why, then, you can make your own flowers! And who knows, you might find making them more fun than your original idea.

Ribbon Roses 1

All you need for these first two techniques is some 1-inch ribbon (fabric or paper) and scissors. Needle and thread wouldn’t hurt but it’s not absolutely required just yet.

Several years ago, probably more like over a decade, I learned how to make ribbon roses thanks to an episode of Martha Stewart’s show. (I was in my Martha phase, then. But after seeing her do a kitchen segment with dirt under her nails my enthusiasm began to seriously wane. That many people around, a camera close-upping on your hands, and you don’t think it’s important to clean up a bit? tsk tsk)

I had brought work home with me, including my adding machine, and had scads of used adding machine tape, so practiced with that. Turns out, adding machine tape makes spectacular practice ribbon! Those roses lasted ages, sitting on the front counter at the office, and I’ve never forgotten the technique.

It’s a series of 4 simple folds, each a 90-degree angle and leaving a little space between the corners creates a hole in the center of the square. For paper you can crease the folds and make life easier on yourself, the same with wired ribbon. Non-wired (aka floppy) ribbon just has to be handled a bit more carefully. The pins in the below pictures are just to leave my hands free to work the camera, once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to whip through these flowers with just your fingers in no time flat.

Ribbon Roses, Steps 1-4

Ribbon Roses, Steps 1-4

When you reach the end of your ribbon (or you think you’ve folded enough–better to err on the side of extra folds and unravel some at the back of an over-full flower than not have enough), thread the end of the ribbon through the small hole in the center (this is the one part that’s easier with ribbon than paper), and twist the ribbon as you pull to create the center bud. Continue to twist more than you pull, rotating the petals around the center bud, creating that offset look that makes it look more flower-like, less square. Tie off the tails at the base of the flower and then arrange the petals the way you want them.

Ribbon Roses, Steps 5-8

Ribbon Roses, Steps 5-8

You can also play with the angle of the folds for different finished flower effects.

4, 5 and 6-fold ribbon roses

4, 5 and 6-fold Ribbon Roses

As you can see, I’ve tacked them to this yoga block (not like it was being used for anything else) with a pearl-headed corsage pin. For more permanent use and any sort of application where they’re going to get a fair amount of moving around (clothing or accessories), take a needle and matching thread to secure the layers of petals, hiding the stitches among the folds.

The 4-fold rose likes to return to it’s squarish roots while the 5-point (fold into a pentagram, 5 72-degree angles for the precision-minded) looks the most rose-like to me. The 6-fold rose (hexagram or 6 60-degree angles) is pretty, yes, but even I had to start over a couple of times and finally placed it on the yoga block so I could fold with one hand and hold down with the other–rotating with each turn was not working. It is pretty, though.

But that’s not the only way to fold a flower.

Ribbon Roses 2

Going back to our garland knot-guru, Nimibirla, here’s another way of forming delicate ribbon roses for any number of uses.

You can certainly make these flowers with only one ribbon, but the two together are not only beautiful, they make the technique easier to see. If you’re only using one ribbon you may not need to stitch as many times as she shows.

Come back Thursday for the third way to make your house bloom with little to no cost and no green thumb needed.

Are you reaching for your ribbon, yet?