In college, my friend Dora and I decided that we were tired of all those boring homecoming corsages and boutonnieres, so we made our own nerdy ones using artificial flowers and paint.
The first year we made them, we went with a Pokémon theme. We made our boyfriends pokéball boutonnieres, while we made ourselves corsages to represent trainer badges (Dora had the rainbow Badge, and I had the Thunder Badge). Two years later, we went with a superhero theme. Dora’s corsage was painted in a Wonder Woman scheme, her boyfriend had a Nightwing boutonniere, and I went stag with a Batgirl flower.
Now, I want to share my wisdom with you so you can make your own nerdy corsage and boutonniere set. This time, though, I’m doing a special theme: The Nightmare Before Christmas. That’s right, I transposed Tim Burton’s power couple into a one-of-a-kind set ready for the big dance. And, just like Jack Skellington, I have a trick up my sleeve with this craft; because I’m not in school anymore, and therefore have no need for this set, I am selling them on my new Etsy shop! You can find the listing here.
However, if you would like to make your own set, and incorporate your favorite fandom couple, then this tutorial is perfect for you! You can pretty much choose any design you like. So, boys and girls of every age, wouldn’t you like to see something strange..ly awesome?
From your utility belt, you’ll need:
-1 large artificial rose
-1 spray of artificial roses (multiple, smaller roses on one stem)
-Various floral picks of your choosing
-1 spool of ribbon–whichever color you like–preferably wired (I used two different kinds of ribbon)
-1 corsage wristlet (I got mine at Hobby Lobby)
-Lapel pins (unless you already have sewing pins)
-Optional: dimensional fabric paint, Sharpie, glitter, glitter glue, or anything else you would like to incorporate
Take the leaves and tags off the artificial flower stem of the large rose and the rose spray. The large rose will be used for the corsage, while the spray will be used for the boutonniere.
Using wire cutters, clip off the blossoms about 1 to 1 1/2 inch down from their bases. Discard the remaining stem.
Peel back the petals so that they lay flat for both the large rose and the smaller rose(s). Get as close to the center as possible. Once you’ve peeled them back, begin painting. This step definitely takes the longest, especially if you’re painting an entire petal like I did.
Paint petals with fabric paint. Let paint dry. If the color is not as vibrant as you like, then add more coats. In total, I applied about 3-4 coats of paint to my petals.
This step will definitely take the longest, just so you know!
Add any more paint of decorations to the petals–depending on your particular design. Then, rearrange the petals to their original configuration. For the corsage rose, I used a black Sharpie to add the patterns onto the petals. I was going to use dimensional fabric paint, but the patterns I was copying were too delicate and fine.
Now it’s time to make the bows. Start by unraveling a significant length of ribbon. Do not cut yet. Taking the end of the ribbon, roll it into a small loop, with the “nice” side facing out. This loop will be the base of the bow. When you’ve made this loop, twist the ribbon at it’s base so that the “nice” side is facing up. Next, measure out a small length of ribbon to make a bigger loop. Bring the end of this loop to the middle when you’ve reached your desired size, and twist.
Repeat this part until you have 3-4 loops on either side of the middle loop. Make sure that the bigger loops are the same size. When you’ve made all of the loops, take a cut piece of floral wire—about 4-5 inches long—and thread through the center base loop. Bend the wire down and twist tight to secure. The ends of the wire should appear as though they are pointing down from the center base loop. Cut off the ribbon that’s still attached to the spool. If the loops aren’t even, you can always tug on the loops to adjust them, just like you would with the loops of your shoelaces.
Using wired ribbon makes the bow-making process easier, produces sturdy loops, and helps keep your hand from cramping as much. You don’t have to use wired ribbon, but I recommend it if this is your first time making a bow.
Pro tip: If you’re having a hard time keeping the first loop down, hot glue it.
Take your various floral picks or accessory flowers, cut them to the length you want, and arrange them how you would like alongside the main flower. Secure them all together using floral tape.
To make floral tape tacky, stretch it out. Tightly wind around the stem of the roses and the floral picks. Complete this step for both the corsage and boutonniere, and make sure to add many layers of floral tape so that the new, green stems become thick. But not too thick.
Attach you bows to both the corsage and boutonniere by wrapping the wire around the green stem as close to the base of the flower as you can. Clip off the excess wire with the wire cutters.
At this point, your boutonniere will pretty much be done. Just add a sewing pin or a lapel pin to the back.
But now you’ll have to secure the large flower to the corsage wristlet. To start, fire up your glue gun. The wristlet I chose to use was a metal bracket one like so:
If you decide to use this kind, place the flower on the bracket with a few dollops of hot glue. Be careful to not put any on the elastic that pokes through the bracket. Next, fold over the metal prongs that are close to the base of the flower. It’s okay if they don’t completely close. Secure these with two small dollops of hot glue. If you place the bracket right, you’ll be able to hide these metal prongs amongst the petals of the flower and the ribbon of the bow. Fold the other prongs over so that they don’t show.
If you use a corsage wristlet that has a clear plastic bracket with ribbon ties, then all you have to do is hot glue the flower onto the bracket, and tie to secure. I didn’t use this type because I couldn’t find one that would have matched the theme. They were all too bridal.
Also, I saw that you can make a wristlet out of a stretchy bracelet, which I’ve never tried. But, if you want to incorporate a piece of jewelry that fits within your particular theme, I would recommend looking into this.
If you use the metal bracket wristlet, like I did, I’ve found that covering the metal base in ribbon makes for a more comfortable–and more stylish–piece. Using hot glue, wrap ribbon around the metal base, without interfering with the elastic band. Tuck the cut ends under the bracket so that they will not be seen (they’ll be on the arm of the wearer).
And you’re done!
Like I said at the beginning, this tutorial can be applied to accommodate any fandom. Literally, any fandom. That’s what I like most about this craft: it’s flexibility. And if you don’t feel comfortable painting or decorating, then you can find flowers in the colors of your chosen fandom, add a symbol from it, and you’re done! I like painting the flowers because it defines the theme, especially if you’re dealing with The Nightmare Before Christmas.
If you followed my tutorial, I would love to see pictures of your finished creations! You can tweet them to me directly at @nerdilyblog, tag me on Intagram at @nerdilyblog, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy homecoming!