I hope all of you had an awesome Thanksgiving and enjoyed a long weekend! If you’re lacking in Christmas decoration inspo, I’m here to give you an inexpensive Southern Chic DIY project that is good for any season!
I came across this cotton wreath in a store the other day and I came so close to buying it. If you’ve been keeping up, you know I love cotton. The longer I looked at this wreath, though, the more I thought I can make that.
Then, the more I thought I can make that, the more I thought I can make that for free.
And I did. So I’m here to tell you how you can do it, too. (Assuming you already have cotton bolls, a glue gun and glue sticks on hand!) If not, this will cost you $10, tops. You can get a small glue gun for $2.50 and packs of 20 small glue sticks for around $3. You can buy cotton balls from discount stores for $1 per bag!
Disclaimer: I used around 25 small glue sticks and then used 2 bigger glue sticks with the mac-daddy glue gun to finish the project. I’m also known to be trigger happy with my glue gun so you can probably use less!
- Cotton Balls (I used 2 bags of small balls.)
- Pine cones (I used 3 large ones.)
- Glue gun and glue sticks
- Any type of string to tie your sticks together if they aren’t bendable enough to weave. (I was out of twine so I cut up strips of some mesh ribbon I had on hand. Use whatever works!)
Let me preface this tutorial by saying this –
If you generally don’t enjoy making things, this may not be for you. It took time and patience to make this from scratch (mostly because of the sticks.) If you’d rather skip that part, you can usually find a blank grapevine wreath in stores for around $12. Thrift stores would also be a good place to look for wreaths to break apart! I always recommend making over buying because making things you can look at and be proud of feels so much better than checking your bank account and seeing deductions that weren’t 100% necessary.
The hardest part is the actual wreath form that will be the backbone for the cotton bolls. I went outside and gathered a bunch of small sticks and twigs. The thinner, the better. Look for ones that already have a little give to them so you’ll be able to bend and weave them. When I thought I had enough, I ran a tub full of water and let the sticks soak overnight. If you want to get started on it sooner than that, 3-4 hours would probably be enough time. I just didn’t want to get started on it so late in the evening.
Once your sticks are ready to assemble, find the longest/biggest stick that is the most bendable and try to form as much of a circle as you can. If it isn’t long enough — mine wasn’t — tie another stick to the end of it and form it that way. It will probably look more oval and maybe even be a little square, but that’s fine. It’s fixable.
The final form doesn’t have to be 100% round. You can adjust the shape with your cotton boll placement. Trust me — mine was so lopsided. My sticks just did. not. want to work with me. This project is also a little messy. But messes can be cleaned up so just keep going.
After you have your form made, it’s time to make the cotton bolls.
First, before you grab the cotton balls, get your pine cones. This is what is going to make your cotton bolls look realistic.
Funny story – I looked and looked outside to try to find pine cones and there just weren’t any. The few I found were the small, ugly ones and that wasn’t going to work. I needed the big, pretty ones. So I went to a few stores to BUY pine cones, y’all. I was that desperate. I left the stores without finding what I needed and headed home. On my way home I passed a man BURNING pine cones in his front yard. No straw, just straight-up pine cones. I could not turn that car around fast enough!
I pulled into his driveway, not knowing who this man was from the man on the moon, and asked him if I could take some of them off his hands. He was so nice about it that he even helped me fill my bag! It’s funny how things work out sometimes! 🙂
Considering I only used 3 pine cones, I have plenty left over for other projects and decorating!
Look how pretty they are. He could easily sell bags of these and skip the burning. He was so nice he even told me to come back next year “whether he’s home or not” and just get what I needed. I need to leave him a thank you card in his mailbox!
Okay, I’m finished gushing over pine cones.
Take your pine cones and start breaking them apart. It’s easier if you start from the bottom and use pliers to pull and twist. You don’t want every piece to be perfect! We’re going for a natural look.
This is definitely the messiest part. I had pine cone clippings all over the counter, the floor, my shirt. Once I finished breaking apart a pine cone or two, I put the clippings into a ziplock bag, to contain the mess a little, and grabbed a seat with my cotton balls and glue gun.
How to make a cotton boll:
You’re going to need 4 small cotton balls and 4 pine cone clippings. (I just googled what they’re called and I think they’re called scales.) Pine cone scales.
Get your glue guns ready!
If you’re like me and want it to look more natural and not so perfect/put-together, you can make it look more authentic by taking a pine cone scale, dabbing a little hot glue on the end, and then tapping the cotton balls in random places to pull it apart a little. Like this:
See how much more natural that looks? It adds a lot more texture to the final project!
From here, just start placing your cotton bolls onto your wreath.
You can place them farther apart than I did but I wanted this wreath to be full.
Just keep gluing! I didn’t count how many cotton bolls I made but I ended up having to make a few extra to finish up a few bald spots.
This is a bonus step. I’m known to be what some would call extra, but I’m all about the small details. If you want your wreath to look even more authentic and want to add a little bit more texture, this step is for you.
Take the scraps from your pine cone scales and grab your glue gun again. Dab a little on the end of the small pieces and place them randomly around your wreath. Natural cotton isn’t perfectly clean and I didn’t want my wreath to be, either.
Most people probably wouldn’t even notice those little pieces you added but they’d definitely notice if it looked too clean. You don’t want this to look manufactured!
Now you’re ready to hang your new cotton wreath! I made sure to make the form in a way that allowed me to hang it from one of the sticks so I wouldn’t have to worry about tying a string or loop.
Remember, shape isn’t a big issue – you want it to look natural.
This is intended for indoor use only. You’d have a big mess if you tried to use these outside if you don’t live somewhere super dry!
If you make your own cotton wreath, share it with us!
If you haven’t already, follow the Joyful and Jittery Facebook page to stay in the loop and get behind the scenes updates! I’d love to chat with you there!
And lastly, enter into my Christmas card giveaway by Nov. 30th for a chance to win a set of cards hand-painted by me! Facebook followers get an EXTRA chance at winning!Be back soon to show you another way to use these DIY cotton bolls to decorate for Christmas this year!