There’s a list of skills I keep in the back of my mind to acquire over my lifetime. I feel like making a corsage or a boutonniere should be on the list for anyone who’s slightly crafty and definitely thrifty. A pretty basic corsage with carnations starts at about $20 at florists near me. They can go upwards of $40 or $50 though, depending on the flowers. So why not try your hand at making one yourself? It might cost a little more for initial set-up costs (getting all the supplies), but you’ll be able to whip one of these up for any special occasion, teenager’s prom, or wedding.
Recently an acquaintance of mine asked me to make 33 corsages (well, 5 were boutonnieres) for an out-of-town fundraiser. Honestly it was the first time I’d ever done flowers “professionally”- as in getting paid. It was a wee bit stressful (after all, I’m dealing with dying things…), but they turned out great and made the 5 hour drive in style. It’s really not rocket science-and with a little practice- you’ll be making these pint size arrangements like the pros in no time.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Flowers (duh)- I used lavender spray roses, yellow lysianthus/yellow spray roses, and seeded eucalyptus.
- Ribbon (3/8″ size)
- Green floral wire (can be found at Dollar Tree)
- Green floral tape (can be found at Dollar Tree)
- Corsage pins (Michael’s or A.C. Moore)
- Clear Life floral preserver (optional, but recommended- it’s pricey to ship, but lasts awhile)
- Clear “treat” bags
- Scissors for ribbon (I used my fabric shears)
- Scissors or small pruners for cutting stems/wire
Then get your wire and snip about 5″ pieces, 2 for each flower. We’re going to put the wire through the base of the flower where it will be the most secure. This varies for each flower, but on a spray rose it’s right through the fat part underneath the leaves. Put one piece of wire in one side and out the other.
Take a second piece of wire and put it through again, starting on an empty side to create a wire “X.”
Then bend all the wires down away from the bloom to create a new thin stem. Take your floral tape and place it at the top of the wire. Begin wrapping all the way down until you’ve covered the wire.
I find it’s super easy to wrap if you spin the flower, not the tape. It makes more sense if you’re actually trying to do this, but if you look at the picture above, I use my right hand to spin the flower at the top while controlling the tape placement with my left. Just give it a go- it’s easy peasy.
When you’ve wired all your flowers, I like to hit them with a light spray of clear life. It basically freezes the flower, so that it lasts longer out of water. Careful on dark colored flowers- if applied too heavily it can leave a haze. Gather a couple of wired flowers and play with a few arrangements. Keep in mind this little cutie needs to look good on someone’s shirt/top, so it’s helpful to hold it up in front of a mirror to see how it looks in place.
Once you have an idea of some heights and angles you like, get two blooms together and wrap them with tape. It doesn’t really matter which blooms, sometimes I used two of the same and sometimes I wrapped two different flowers together. I like to wrap them at different heights. Just play around with it- the tape comes off and you can rearrange things as much as you like. Shown below are both lysianthus blooms, one is just more open. Don’t be afraid to use blooms in all stages, it adds interest!
Now you keep building, wrapping in some filler and more flowers.
If you get everything in place the way you like, wrap one more piece of tape around the whole she-bang, and then trim the entire stem with some pruners or tough scissors to about 1 1/2″- 2″. Hit the whole arrangement with another light coat of Clear Life.
Wash your hands. Trust me.
Now it’s ribbon time! I won’t explain to you how to make the little bows, because quite frankly I kind of suck at it, and I’m sure my technique is not great. There are videos on youtube, or you could always get a Bow-Da-Bra machine You’ll notice my bow has 4 tails… the two flying out to the side are for securing it around the stem.
Starting at the back of your corsage, place the ribbon at the base of the arrangement with about an 1 1/2″ tail sticking up. Then fold the ribbon on itself at a 90 degree angle to start the wrap.
Wrap the ribbon around once to secure the tail in place, then begin going down the stem.
On the way down, it’s gonna look like dookie. No worries, this is normal.
Go down the stem far enough to cover the wrap, then start back up. This time, carefully place the ribbon as nicely as you can (angle, spacing, etc.). It doesn’t have to be perfect!
When you reach the top, wrap the ribbon around one more time then trim the tail to about 1 1/2″. Tie the two tails together at the back.
Place the bow at the front where you like it, then tie it around the back on top of the other knot.
Trim all the tails so you can’t see them from the front. I put two pins in the side of the wrapped stem before packaging (in case one drops or gets lost…) Put your little cutie in a bag, blow it up with air, then fold over the top several times and tape it shut. You’ll have a pretty nice pillow package that allows them to be stacked on top of eachother.
The only difference between a corsage and a boutonniere is that for the men’s version, you omit the bow, and they are typically a little smaller. Now it’s your turn to try! Would you give this a go for your next big event? Are you tired of seeing my nasty fingernails?