Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to Make a Garland with Magnolia Leaves

A few weeks ago, I shared my garden-inspired Christmas mantel with my handmade magnolia garland and I promised I'd share how to make one with you.  It just took longer than I thought to get the tutorial done and thanks for being patient if you happened to be waiting for it!

The good news if you haven't made one, it's certainly not too late to have one up for Christmas because magnolia leaves do not maintain their fresh, shiny appearance longer than a few days without misting.  The green will look a little duller and the leaves tend to curl up as they are drying out...don't ask me how I know!
Like fresh-cut flowers, it's worth it to have the beauty, even if it's only for a few days...
I didn't originally take pictures documenting the process when I made my first garland as it was just one of those things I jumped into and figured it out along the way.  I definitely learned what worked and what didn't!
Here are the items you'll need to make your own: magnolia leaves, floral wire (green preferred), clippers or wire cutters, and wired twine (available at Michael's).  I'm sure that you can use regular twine, but I like the flexibility of the the wired twine.  You'll also need a cup hook, Command hook, or tacks to attach the garland to your mantel.
The first step is to cut the wired twine into two pieces.  My standard builder's mantel is 67'' and depending how much swag in the garland you prefer, the length of the twine can vary accordingly.  I used two 40'' lengths instead of making one long garland and swagging it because I quickly found that it was much easier to  attach the leaves uniformly.  I also found that attaching the wired twine to the mantel with the cup hooks/Command hooks before adding the leaves is preferred. I originally sat down to attach the leaves on the twine, then hang it on the mantel, but found that the leaf bunches attached to the twine have a tendency to twist.
  After attaching the twine to the mantel, then it's time to add the leaves...
Cut several 1-2'' lengths of floral wire.  It's nice to have a pile of these cut before you start putting the leaves together...
Taking three, similar-sized magnolia leaves, hold them together by the steams in a fan shape.  I used the green sides of the leaves facing out, but magnolia leaves have beautiful, velvety brown backs that can also be used.  Simply use a length of floral wire and secure the leaves together very tightly, keeping the fan shape intact.  Leave some wire at the end of the leaf bundle to attach to the twine...
After making several leaf bundles, start attaching them to the wired twine already in place on the mantel, working from the center to the outside.  You are essentially wrapping the leaf bundles with the floral wire twice, but just attaching the loose leaves straight to the twine just does not keep the leaves from shifting and losing shape (at least for me anyway).
Depending on the size of the magnolia leaves that you are using, space the leaf bundles about 2'' apart (or desired distance) on the wired twine, overlapping each previously attached bundle.  Just like a roofer would lay shingles on a house, it's much easier to attach this way versus tucking in leaf bunches underneath a previously attached bundle.
Keep working down the length of the twine, adding leaf bundles until you've reached the corner of the mantel...
After completing one side, start on the other, working from the center to the outside corner of the mantel again.  I counted a total of 50 bundles of leaves (25 on each side) that I used on my mantel totaling 150 magnolias leaves used for reference.
It's not too time-consuming of a project once you get started...and it's worth it at the end!

Kristen

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12 comments:

Debra @ Common Ground said...

just beautiful, no magnolia leaves around here though, I'll just enjoy yours!

Jen said...

Love love love it!!! I bought a few big magnolia bundles and that is the perfect thing to do with them! Your mantel is beautiful!

Andrea said...

we don't have any magnolia here in frigid Alberta, but I did buy a bunch from Walmart this year. It has since dried, but still looks nice as I only tucked it in here and there. I love your garland, and if I was a southerner, I'd have this on my to-do list forsure =)

Hi, I'm MarySue said...

Thank you for the tutorial. I'm wondering if I could use citrus leaves which we have in abundance here in Arizona. Maybe next year.

Leslie said...

Great tutorial! I just found one marked down. They are lovely and yours is gorgeous.

Rose1957 said...

Wouldn't it be cool IF we could figure out a way to make them last from one year to the next and it wouldn't be expensive to do it?

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Your garland is grand and beautifully traditional!!! I may live in the north but I have two girlfriends with amazing Magnolia trees. I'm keeping this... pinning!!!!
Merry Christmas!!!

All About Vignettes said...

I love to use magnolia in my holiday decor and always wanted to make a garland. I think I'll give it a try next year. Your mantel is beautiful

Kathy

Glamorous Mommy said...

This is so beautiful!!

Patti @ Pandoras Box said...

What a lovely garland - your mantel looks gorgeous - happy holidays

Shirley@Housepitality Designs said...

Gorgeous Kristen!...thanks for sharing this!!
Have a great day!!!

Linda@Coastal Charm said...

Thanks so much for sharing how you did this. Wishing you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Blessings,
Linda

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