Recently I showed you the wreaths that I'd made for my front doors and several of you asked me to show you how I did them. (Actually only two asked, but I'm flattered and when my public calls, I answer).
I need to start by telling you that I'm totally self taught. I have never had a flower arranging class and never had anyone show me how to make bows. My techniques have come from years of trial and error by a gal that is a total klutz when it comes to floral design.
Years ago I kept my little store going by teaching my customers to make wall swags. It was in the late 80's when those horrible paper ribbon bows where so popular. We sold silk flowers and all the goodies to do those nasty dust catchers. Women fought for a spot in our classes and my motto was, "No one leaves my class without finishing and being 100% happy with their creation". So I had to come up with some kind of formula to create those gawd awful "lovely" wall hangings . A kinda "wall swags by number" if you will. I guess they were happy, because they all left and some even came back...for more classes - hard to believe, I know.
Here is what you'll need:
Any size grapevine wreath. You'll want to look at it and decide where you want the bow to go and what part will be at the top. The flowers will cover up a lot so if there is a bare spot or an area that is not so perfect, this is probably where you'll want to put the flowers.
The flowers. You'll need a nice variety of sizes and shapes and I like to work with odd numbers of like flowers. One of those students I taught years ago was an interior designer and she told me that every room needs a touch of purple. I must admit most of my rooms have no purple but most of my floral arrangements do. I love how purple will make the other colors pop.
The ribbon. Try and buy wired ribbon when you can. You'll need at least 3 to 4 yards each of two 1 1/2" to 2 1/2" wide ribbon for each wreath. I usually start the design process with the ribbon, letting it dictate the colors for the wreath. (Use narrower ribbon for smaller wreaths and wider ribbon for larger wreaths. The size of your wreath will also affect the amount of ribbon you will use).
I think I may have gotten carried away a bit with the bows on this one. I just had the luxury of having oodles of lovely ribbon and couldn't stop myself. One thing you need to know about me is that I'm an embellisher. Give me ribbon and flowers and pretty stuff and I totally loose control!
Hello. My name is Suzanne and I am an embellisher. (It's a life long sickness).
You'll also need a hot glue gun and my secret weapon...
24 or 30 gauge floral wire. I use both green and silver; whatever I have on hand. You can find floral wire at craft stores and floral suppliers. It's light weight enough to bend easily, but heavy enough to support the weight of the wreath. This will be your best friend from now on...trust me.
A good pair of wire cutters to snip the stems off of your flowers and a pair of paper scissors to trim your wired ribbon - because you'll be sorry if you use your good sewing scissors on wired ribbon - AMHIK*.
*Ask me how I know
Here is what to do:
After you decide where you want the top of your wreath, create a wire loop for hanging on the back of the wreath.
I start by making and attaching the bow.
Starting with the wider ribbon and leaving a pretty long tail, I form two loops, then hold it up to my wreath to check the size.
The trick here is to add more loops side by side, not directly on top of the first two loops. I'm just scrunching the ribbon in my left hand as I add additional loops to the right of the first ones. (And taking these photos with my nose!) ha
Once the desired number of loops have been added, take a long (24") length of wire and fold it in half. Wrap the doubled piece of wire around the center of your bow and thread the ends through the loop and cinch the wire up tight. (You will want to get this ready before you start to make your bow - AMHIK).
Lay this part of your bow on the wreath to check the size. Notice the attached wire at the top of the photo and the long untrimmed ribbon tail - leave those alone for now. Please.
Next you will make and add the second bow to the first bow, then with the attached wire, connect the two bows,
first to one another, then to the wreath.
The bow can be wired in the center of the wreath or slightly off center. When using two wreaths on double doors I like to off set them slightly; to the left on the left door and to the right on the right door.
To arrange the flowers, I usually start by trimming the long stems from the flowers and sticking them in the wreath to check placement. Once you're happy with the placement you can remove the flowers, one by one, add a dab of hot glue, then permanently secure them to your wreath. Be careful here since hot glue can drip through the vines and burn you. Bad. AMHIK!
Think about how the flowers grow. Tulips and roses are a bit leggy and stiff. Hydrangeas grow in round, tight bunches and wisteria kind of hang. I try and keep this in mind as I arrange. Notice the branches of apple blossoms and how they stick out. I always try and keep things wispy, and not too compact and tight.
I have more luck when I keep my color pallet somewhat tight though; not too many colors or too many kinds of flowers. Repetition of color and texture is an important part of design. (Read that on a bathroom wall somewhere).
If you're not sure about placement, try just sticking a flower where you think you might like it, then remove it and see which way it pleases you most. That's why you glue only after you have auditioned your flower placement.
Here's a shot of my wreath under construction. See that big white round flower? It didn't make the cut. I just felt like I had too much going on with that humongous bow so I pulled it out and will save it for another project.
Hint: These bows look awesome on packages and I promise everyone will ooh and awe over your gift wrapping. They won't even notice that you skimped on the gift when you wrap the box with a pretty ribbon and glue on a colorful flower.
The last step is to trim up the ends of the ribbon at an angle or fish tail.
Since this is a larger wreath I added a little flower pot to the bottom. It was purchased for sixty nine cents at a craft store then I snipped off a bit of the edge with my wire cutters to add interest - you know, to make it look old. It would have been even better had I thrown it in the back yard for a few months so it could have gotten all mossy and grungy. I wired and hot glued it to the wreath then softened it with a touch of moss. The little nest and birds were secured with hot glue.
Confession: I make all my bows like this. I almost always use wire because I'm just such a spaz when it comes to these things and the wire holds everything in place so nicely. Hair bows, bows for packages and bows for my Christmas trees. Everything. Everyone thinks they are so pretty and fancy, but little do they know that they are so ridiculously simple. I just keep spools of wired ribbon in my wrapping paper storage containers and I'm always ready go.
A pretty wreath at your front door gives your guests a nice first impression and helps welcome Spring.
Encourage one another,