Thursday, December 8, 2011

DIY oversized decorative bows - inexpensive, too.

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This is one of those bang for your buck projects. These gigantic decorative bows cost very little to make, yet have a dramatic impact on a space.

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One day while I was supposed to be "napping" I couldn't stop thinking about possible holiday projects. I thought it would be fun to decorate the table as though it were wrapped with a big bow on top; as though Christmas dinner was a present. I knew I would have to make it myself, since the odds of finding such a bow sitting on a shelf somewhere, reasonably priced and in the right colors, were pretty low.

My vision was of a bow made out of some sort of ornate brocade. The problem was figuring out how to construct one out of fabric; google totally failed me. I quickly realized that simply sewing a hem and wiring the material would not provide the rigidity I wanted to achieve. The bow would be at the mercy of wire, which is bendy and unpredictable. In addition to the wire, the material would have to be lined with something... but what?

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I went to the fabric store and looked at different meshes and thick fabrics, but nothing worked quite right, or else it was too expensive. I gave up the search, bought my 22 gauge wire ($2.00), and continued on to Target to finish my shopping trip. While there, I noticed these big rolls of heavy brown packaging paper. The paper was thick enough to hold up to the weight of my brocade fabric. I figured it was worth the $5.00 investment for the roll to see if it would work.

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When I got home I cut the fabric to size. I decided to do each loop of the bow as a separate piece. I cut the thick brown paper about 3/4 inch shorter on the sides, and left 4 inches or so on the ends (anticipating that I was going to eventually need to bunch the ends together, and the paper would just get in the way.)

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I ironed the edges over the paper, pinned it all down, and sewed the paper into place.

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Then I cut my wire 3 or 4 inches longer than the fabric on both ends, bent the end of the wire over,

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and threaded it through the hem. The extra wire allowed me to connect multiple bow pieces together as needed, or insert them into a foam form.

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If I were a truly crafty person, I would have made sure to make my seams nice and straight. But I didn't; I just eyeballed it. And I would have realized sooner than 6 bow loops into the project that I can iron the thick stubborn paper to make it lay flat. And I would have realized that I could have made a template for the cloth size and the paper size out of the packaging paper, which would have made the measuring and cutting go a lot quicker. Oh, and I would have hemmed the ends of the bows, even though they're not seen, to keep the shredding fabric at bay. I'll just pass those little tidbits on to you and hope that someone learns from my non-crafty mistakes!

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If you're feeling really festive, you can even line the brown packaging paper with some nice wrapping paper. It makes the loops a little heavier, but it looks fancy.

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I made simple runners with the left-over fabric to act as the ribbon wrapping the table. Most of the decorations and greenery came from outside, or from the dollar store.

Here's the table all set up for dinner:

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I was walking through Home Goods when I ran across these plates. They were so perfect, I had to grab a pair to use at the ends of the table.

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I'm thinking these could be made for outside use too, using thicker wire (copper wire is available at the hardware store by the foot), water resistant fabric, and maybe a wire or plastic mesh to give support and form to the bow. I'll let you know if I try to make a big one to hang off of the balcony. It's on the to-do list. In the meantime, I'm thankful for a dining room that locks; it's nice to have one room in the house that looks nice and stays clean! Happy holidays, all!
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