Wednesday, October 02, 2013

How to Wire an Autumn Leaf Headband

After making the cold porcelain rose tiara for my friend to wear on her wedding day, she set me another challenge... to turn a length of artificial autumn leaves into 4 headbands for her bridesmaids. She'd bought about 10 feet of it with the intention of attaching it to her flower girls' headdresses, but she was a bit stumped on where to start and so she handed the project over to me.

I was given lots of little lengths that looked like this.  The quality of the leaves weren't perfect, but the colours worked beautifully together.  Lots of lovely reds, browns and fading greens, with some really very vivid oranges.  They were an absolute joy to work with and a wonderful change from the creams and ivories I'm so used to.

I do love a creative challenge, so here's my step by step tutorial on how to turn a garland of artificial leaves into a professional looking, wired leaf headband, perfect for a fall wedding.

The Tutorial

In order to wire them, cut off the leaves, leaving a 2 or 3cm stem.

Here's everything needed to wire them together to make a garland -
  • About 18 leaves
  • 0.4mm gold plated wire
  • A thick needle for making a hole
  • Wire cutters
  • 2mm gold coloured beads 

Lay out the leaves so that they are ordered with a mixture of colours and sizes, making sure that there are 2 smaller ones at either end.

Make a hole with a needle for the wire to thread through.  I found the best placement was just inside the 'v' of the highest vein.

Cut a length of gold plated wire - I usually like to work with an arm's length, as anything more becomes unmanageable.  Thread the wire through the hole, folding the wire over at the centre and popping a bead onto the wire so that it will sit at the front of the leaf.

Wrap the front section of wire around the plastic stem of the leaf several times, making sure that the bead sits as close to the leaf as possible.

Twist the back section of wire together with the front section of wire to secure the leaf in place.

* Keep on twisting down the wire until you get to the section where you want to attach your next leaf.  A good guide is to angle your wire upwards whilst holding your second leaf in place.  You will need at least 5mm of untwisted wire below the second leaf to secure it in place.

Making a hole in the leaf with a needle again, insert the wire from the back, adding a bead to the wire at the front of the leaf.  Holding the leaf in place, fold the wire at the front, pushing the bead as high up the leaf as possible.  Wrap the front wire around the stem and finally secure the leaf in place by twisting the front and back parts of the wire until the twists below the leaf meet the central stem.

Repeat from * adding leaves on alternate sides until you've worked a length that is over half your desired final length.

Now make another garland in the same way so that you have 2 sets of leaves travelling in opposite directions when you place them together.  I made my 2 sets quite different lengths so that the join wasn't completely central.

If you want a more symmetrical looking garland, make your 2 lengths the same.

Once you've completed both lengths, overlap your garlands in the middle, pushing them together so that none of the stems are showing.  You can see on here the excess wire.  You may want to snip it a little shorter to make it a little more manageable for the next stage.

Use the 4 remaining wire ends to wrap around the wire stem of the opposing garland, securing them together.  Cut the wires close to the stems, making sure that any ends are kept as close and tucked into the stem as possible.

You should end up with a leaf garland with the joining leaves butted close together so that the stems aren't showing.

I was unable to find narrow headbands in the dark brown shade I wanted, so I stitched some brown satin ribbon onto skinny headbands that I had already.  A satin covered headband is ideal for this as it allows your embellishments to be stitched on.  I sewed the garland onto the headband using gold beading thread and a needle.

The stitching is much easier and you will get yourself into less of a tangle if you pull the leaves away from the stem at an almost 90 degree angle.  (You will still get into a little bit of a tangle, but opening the leaves out will lessen the mess you inevitably get into at some point!)

As the leaves are wired you can then play with them and adjust them until you get exactly the look you want.

 And, (as Craftgawker insisted that they would only accept a picture of someone wearing it), here is a rare picture of me modelling it.

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Unknown said...

Thanks i wanted to make something like this for an upcoming party (:

Cheryl said...

Such a fun and original idea!