May 21, 2012

DIY Yarn Pom Pom Centerpieces

So, remember how back in January I made an ambitious plan for our DIY wedding centerpieces? Yeah, now that May is almost over, they are finally finished. I confess, the plan was so intimidating that it took me a while to get started. And because making the centerpieces was a multi-step process, it took me a long time to finish them. But the centerpieces are finally complete! Here is how it all went down.

If you remember, my plan was to take the cheap mason jars I bought from Kmart, wrap them in jute, and put pom-pom yarn ball arrangements into the jars instead of flowers. My reasoning was that yarn balls are way cheaper than real flowers, and I could make the centerpieces ahead of time (yeah, that didn't happen) and not stress about them the day before the wedding. I found my inspiration on Offbeat Bride:

My inspiration for yarn pom pom balls, found here.

First thing first, I bought my supplies:

Supplies for centerpieces.

Supplies included:
  • Mason jars (I used six of them)
  • Jute (to wrap around mason jars)
  • Pebbles/marbles (to fill the bottom of the jars)
  • Stem wire (to make stems for the yarn balls)
I had to make six centerpieces, so I used six mason jars (though they came in a pack of 12, which means I had extra left over for other decoration purposes). One bag of pebbles turned out to be sufficient for the six centerpieces, with some left over. I ended up putting five yarn ball "flowers" into each jar, and I used one long stem wire for each yarn ball - for a total of thirty yarn balls, I needed thirty stem wires. They come in packs of twenty, so I bought two. I had no idea how much jute I would need, so I bought several spools, which turned out to be completely unnecessary - all the jute I needed was left over from the wine and beer bottle vase project, and I still had some left from that spool after I was done with all the centerpieces.

Of course, I also needed yarn:

Yarn for the centerpieces.

Initially, I wasn't sure what colors I would use, but I definitely wanted to include white in the arrangements. That was the only yarn I had to buy, as I had the other colors left over from other projects.

With all my supplies at hand, I was ready to start making the centerpieces. The first step was to make the yarn balls. I followed the tutorial on Offbeat Bride, which is very detailed and nicely illustrated. My only tips would be to use good scissors and wrap more yarn around your fingers than you think you'll need. More yarn makes for denser balls, and denser yarn balls tend to droop less. And no, I did not have good scissors, so all the yarn cutting took me a bit longer than it would have otherwise, but it still worked out in the end. During this step, I also chose my colors: white, yellow, and purple. The yellow pom poms became the "flower" centers. For each centerpiece, I made one yellow, two white, and two purple yarn balls.

Pom pom yarn balls.

My camera was having a really hard time capturing the true color purple, so on my monitor, the previous photo (of the yarn supplies) has the more accurate depiction of the color.

With the pom pom yarn balls finished, I moved on to making the stems. Originally, I considered somehow gluing or otherwise attaching the stem wire to the yarn balls, but I ended up using an even simpler method. I simply stuck a stem wire through the center of the yarn ball, bent it in half, and twisted it around itself.

Stick stem wire through the center of the yarn ball.
Bend wire in half and wrap around itself.

With all thirty yarn "flowers" complete, I considered my options for their arrangement in the mason jars. Assembling five stems together and setting them into a jar resulted in a discombobulated mess. The stems just fell in all directions and did not stay arranged. I decided it was best to pre-arrange them before putting them into the jars. I started with a yellow yarn ball stem in the center, and added white and purple stems, alternating the colors. As I added each color, I wrapped the new stem around the stems already in the arrangement. Here is how the arrangements looked like when I was done:

Arrangement of five yarn ball stems.
All six arrangements complete!

The next step was to wrap the jute around the mason jars. Partially, I chose to do this because I like that look, but it was also a functional decision - the jute would strategically conceal the mess of stem wires wrapped around themselves. To wrap the jars in jute, I followed the same method I used to create wine and beer bottle vases. I simply used Elmer's glue to attach the jute to the mason jars - it creates a surprisingly strong and effective bond. Each jar took about half an hour to wrap, and I only wrapped them half way.

With the mason jars wrapped in jute, and the yarn ball arrangements complete, all I had to do was stick the stems into the jars and call it a day. But to make my centerpieces a bit more shiny (and to stabilize the stems inside the jars), I added the pebbles/marbles to the bottom of each jar, just filling high enough to reach the jute level. Then, I FINALLY put the yarn balls into the jars, and my centerpieces were complete!

A complete yarn ball / mason jar centerpiece!
All six centerpieces.

Whew! Those centerpieces sure saved us a ton of money, but they took a really long time to make. So if you are thinking about DIYing something similar, I would recommend budgeting your time wisely. As for cost, all six centerpieces cost me less than $40 total to make. Talk about a bargain!

May 15, 2012

Bargain Hunting: 1960's Round Wicker Chair

After literally years of craigslist hunting, I am finally a proud owner of the most awesome 1960's round wicker chair. And, no, I'm not insane. I just love bargain hunting. And chairs. And this particular chair has been eluding me ever since I spotted it on Young House Love:

The elusive round wicker chair in YoungHouseLove nursery.

After Sherry confirmed that this chair has remained comfy after a year of nursing, my desire to make this chair mine increased exponentially. Not for nursing, mind you, but because it is vintage, comfortable, AND looks so unusually cool.

Several times, I found this chair on craigslist. But they were all near-misses, as craigslist frustratingly tends to be - someone got to my chair first. But last weekend, my persistence finally paid off. We drove an hour to get this lovely chair for a mere 35 bucks.

1960's round wicker chair. I love it.

Side and back view.

The chair is in great condition. Other than a small tear in the wicker on the seat, there is no obvious damage to the chair. And, as Sherry promised, it's super comfortable. I can't wait to find the right place for it in our home. And once we buy a house with a backyard (wishful thinking) where I can spray paint things, I will probably paint this chair white, legs and all. For now, I think we will enjoy it as it is - lovely and comfortable.

May 8, 2012

DIY Floral Wedding Bouquet

We are going to be DIYing the flower bouquets for me and the girls the day before the wedding, so I figured it would be a good idea to do a dry run in order to figure out how hard it is to make a bouquet and how long it would take an amateur like me to do it. Turns out, it was super easy and only took about twenty minutes. Of course, it helped that I kept it real simple.

Back in October, I collected inspiring photos of floral bouquets and centerpieces that were beautiful, bright, and happy. But I'm not a pro, and flowers are expensive, and many flowers I was falling in love with would not be in season anyway. So I went back to my engineering roots and decided to follow the KISS principle (as in, Keep It Simple, Stupid). Sherry's bouquet from their YoungHouseLove wedding pointed me in the right direction.

Sherry's hydrangea wedding bouquet. From here.

Hydrangeas are perfect for keeping it simple. They are in season in June, each stem is very voluminous and has high visual impact, and you only need a few stems to make a substantial looking bouquet. Also, my dress is not the traditional white, but somehow, adding white flowers to the outfit felt bridal to me.

For supplies, I bought:
  • Six stems of hydrangeas ($16)
  • Green floral tape ($4)
  • White satin ribbon, 2 rolls ($8)
  • Corsage pins ($4)
I actually didn't have the corsage pins for the dry run, so I just used the two pearl head pins that came with my sewing kit. Note that after the dry run, I had plenty of floral tape and ribbon left over for all four bouquets that we will make on the actual wedding day. If you are counting, that means that each bouquet is less than $20. Talk about budget flowers!

I followed the tutorial posted on APW, which turned out to be super easy and self-explanatory. It was even easier for me because I didn't have to worry about putting together different kinds of flowers. First, I took three hydrangeas and wrapped floral tape around them. The bouquet actually looked pretty good with only three hydrangeas (that's how many Sherry used), but I figured I might as well use all six as long as I had them. In hind sight, I would probably leave it at three - six hydrangeas turned out a bit lopsided, probably because I'm such an expert at putting flowers together. After I had my three center stems wrapped with tape, I added one hydrangea at a time, wrapping it with tape to the center stems. After all six stems were covered in floral tape, I trimmed the stems and wrapped the white satin ribbon around the bouquet to hide the floral tape. To keep the ribbon in place, I used one pearl head pin at the top and one at the bottom of the stems.

Simple, six-stem hydrangea wedding bouquet.

I like how it turned out, besides the lopsidedness. D said it looks like broccoli. Good thing he doesn't have to walk down the aisle with it.

Another view of the hydrangea bouquet. Note the lopsidedness.