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A whimsical take on the traditional bridegroom's boutonniere, without using any flowers.

This instructable comes to you from the creative mind of the newly Mrs. Awajiman, who wanted to add a whimsical, personal touch to my groom's outfit on our wedding day.

Backstory
Our wedding was held at San Francisco Airport Aviation Museum, an unexpectedly stunning and somewhat offbeat venue in the heart of the SFO international departures terminal. Since it is a functioning museum and library, there were strict restrictions on floral vendors and the type of flower arrangements that could be brought in, which led us to ultimately decide for a flowerless wedding.

Mrs. Awajiman made around 300 - 400 stems of felted ball 'flowers' to be used for centerpieces and decorations. She even commissioned a custom felt flower bouquet from Princess Lasertron who incorporated a few of our felted balls into the arrangement. The boutonniere was an added surprise that she squeezed in amongst the bajillion other DIY things we did for our wedding day.

Benefits:
Since we were on a tightish budget for our wedding, any DIY elements had to help us save on the expense of purchasing a ready-made item or ordering one from a vendor. For the felted ball boutonnieres,  there were a number of advantages over going with a traditional florist:
  • Total project cost ran around $10 - $15, with enough material to make 4 boutonnieres, making it a good option for large bridal parties.
  • Low difficulty: 15 - 30 minutes of build time per boutonniere
  • Easily sourced tools and materials
  • Lasts a lot longer than a floral boutonniere. You'd be able to tack this on your tux well after you're no longer able to fit into it.
  • Could be customized to any color theme.
  • Convenient conversation piece when meeting new in-laws.
  • Has that handmade, personal touch.
  • They're kinda charming in their own way.

Step 1: Harvest Some Wool

Everything needed for this project can be gathered around the house or at your local arts & crafts store. With regards to the wool and ribbons, you may be able to find a better selection of colors online (or wash and dye your own wool if you're ambitious).

Tools
  • Needle Felting Kit: should include at least two (2) felting needles and one (1) foam brick.
  • Scissors and/or wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers
Materials
  • Wool roving: this is essentially dyed, unspun wool. A small package produces 6 - 12 balls, depending on diameter.
  • Cloth covered stem wire
  • Green ribbon: for stem wrapping (width: 1cm; or 2/5" - 1/2")
  • Permanent double sided tape: same width as green ribbon. This is not double sided foam tape.
  • Colored ribbon, felt leaves/petals, paper flowers, etc: for embellishment
  • Boutonniere pin

Step 2: Needle Felting

Needle felting is the process of turning unspun wool, referred to as roving, into firm 3 dimensional shapes. This differs from standard fabric felting in that it is a dry process (as opposed to wet felting) and produces an airy, light, easily shaped felt. The needle used for the process is barbed along the sides in order to catch the wool and produce tangles and structure as you pass the needle through the roving.  

Please note that improper use of the needle could result in bodily harm, so please be careful! Seriously... that ish really hurts. Go slowly if this is your first time and get into a nice rhythm.

Mrs. Awajiman's Tip: Once you get the hang of it, the process of needle felting can be very relaxing. The stabbing motion and crunching sound of the needle in the foam pad were a great form of stress relief during the stressful wedding planning months.



Step 3: Roll Some Balls

Roll the felt between your hands as if you were forming a clay or dough ball. Alternate between needle felting and rolling until the felt takes on a spherical shape.

Mrs. Awajiman's Tip: Cupping the felt between your hands, exhale onto the felt, and continue rolling it. While this may sound strange, the moisture and heat from your breath will speed up the felting process, saving time.


Step 4: Flower Stems

Now that you've formed your felt ball, you are nearly finished! Next step is to prepare the stem.
  1. Using scissors, cut approximately 5 inches of the stem wire. You can trim it later, and vary the length of your different balls depending on the design of your boutonniere. Be sure to cut the end on the bias, making it sharp, so you can easily push it through the felt ball.
  2. With your needle, poke through the felt ball, creating a guide for the stem to go through.
  3. Pointy end first, insert the stem through the ball. Do not be alarmed if some of the cloth has unraveled at the top of the felt ball.
  4. Grasp the tip of the wire with your pliers. Use the pliers to bend the wire into a small hook.
  5. Gently pull the stem wire back into the ball. The hook should stop the wire from exiting the ball.
  6. Needle felt around the top of the hook to secure it in place.


Step 5: "Floral" Arrangement

It's all coming together! Once you have your desired amount of felt balls, arrange them into position, twisting the wire to secure the stems in place. Cut off the excess wire, then bend the ends into a loop shape, so there are no sharp ends.

Step 6: Wrap It Up!

Making your own ribbon tape is fairly easy and much more customizable and economical than purchasing pre-made ribbon tape!
Cut enough ribbon to wrap the twisted stems. Cut an equal amount of double sided tape. Carefully attach the tape to the ribbon. No need to remove the backing of the tape yet, you'll remove it while wrapping the stems.

Next, starting from the base of the balls, start to peel the backing away from the ribbon tape while wrapping the ribbon around the stem wire, gradually making your way to the end of the stems. Keep wrapping the stems with the extra ribbon tape.

Mrs. Awajiman's Tip: Try to match the width of the ribbon and double sided tape as closely as possible. This will save you the trouble of cutting the double sided tape to fit the ribbon.

Step 7: Sidestep: Greenery

Using the excess ribbon tape you can add some ribbon leaves to adorn your stem. Simply fold over about 1" of ribbon tape onto itself, so that the adhesive is in the middle and there is ribbon on both sides. Then cut the ribbon tape so that there is about 1/2" of exposed adhesive on the end.

Shape the ribbon side to a leaf point using scissors. Then affix the leaf to the stem at the base of the felted balls. Repeat as desired.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

Congratulations on completing your boutonniere! Whoever has the pleasure of wearing it is surely a lucky guy/gal! To add a final touch, embellish with colored ribbon of your choice. Use a boutonniere pin to secure to your special someone's lapel.

Love the look? Feeling ambitious? Go balls to the wall with felted balls as centerpieces or as a bouquet! Vary the quantity and sizes of your balls for a modern or vintage romantic look; the possibilities are endless!
This instructable inspired ALL of the floral decor for my wedding. I used them to accent the floral arrangements my friends, family and I put together in borrowed vases, and even in my bouquet. Thank you so much for this idea!
Thank you, hmlangille! Mrs. Awajiman will be so excited to hear you liked it :)<br>Your arrangement looks beautiful! Congratulations on your marriage!<br>
If you are looking for a great selection of wool and needlefelting supplies check out New England Felting Supply. www.feltingsupply.com I have purchased from them and they are always helpful and knowledgeable. Have fun!
Thanks for the tip! We'll have to check them out.
I re-read and re-watched your instructable and laughed when I read this: &quot;...The stabbing motion and crunching sound of the needle in the foam pad were a great form of stress relief...&quot;<br><br>I ought to try that for my stress relief! Repetitive motions do help me with stress. For example..knitting is a form of stress relief!<br><br>THanks for a great idea!
I was going to ask... did you ever stab your finger by accident? That would be painful
Yes, I did. It hurts a lot!
Nice ible! Very clever!
Thanks! All the cleverness comes from my better half ;)
what a clever idea... I have not seen this prior to your wedding.
very entertaining instructable. organized, professional and easy instructions. Love the idea of a different approach for making boutonniere instead of the cookie cutter traditional ones.<br><br>great, creative idea and nothing was left out ! A novice can follow instructions and be successful!!!! I love real flowers but the BALL idea is fabulous.

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