As I will be working on my bouquet technique next week at the Wedding Flower Intensive course I am attending at Green & Gorgeous, I have decided to practice buttonholes this week. Buttonholes, or boutonnieres as they are called in America, are something I very rarely make. Bouquets, table arrangements etc are all used as much for presents and parties as they are for weddings, but really weddings are the only time you might consider making buttonholes. They are quite quick and simple to make, but as with all things the more you practice the better you will get and my technique is decidedly rusty!
As a general tip I would suggest having a large jar of water handy when you are preparing wedding flowers so that any bits that too short, are cut off the main stems or just flowers on broken stems can be popped into the jar to be saved as material for the buttonholes.
When you are ready to make the buttonholes the first step is to get all your materials together. The practical tools you will need are sharp scissors, floral tape (this is a special tape that sticks to itself when stretched and is used to bind the stems of the buttonholes) thin gage wires and ribbon.
Next collect and prepare all the plant materials you intend to use in the buttonholes. I have chosen purple heuchera leaves as the backing, with heuchera flowers, wax flowers, alchemilla and a rose for my first buttonhole.
Once you have chosen your materials it is simply a case of placing the various stems on the backing leaf until you are happy with the arrangements, binding the stems tightly with the floral tape and then winding the chosen ribbon around the stems to cover the tape. Tie the ribbon neatly and recut the ribbon ends to give a sharp finish. The final step is to add a couple of buttonhole pins, so that the buttonhole is ready to be pinned onto the jacket when it is needed.
Sometimes the material you will want to work with will have a soft or short stem, or the stem will have broken off so that there is nothing to attach the flower with. In this case you will need to use wire to make a new stem. I have illustrated this with a heuchera leaf, but the same technique would work for a flower head.
First turn your leaf or flower to its back and then thread through your wire at the base of the stem.
Turn the leaf over and carefully twist the wire around to make a new firmer stem. I have cut the leaf stem quite short before starting to twist so that the new stem is all wire. Not only is this new stem unbreakable, it can also be twisted and bent as you wish when placing it in the arrangement.
Finally cover the wire with floral tape and cut the stem to the length you need.
For my second buttonhole I replaced the rose with a carnation and added a stem of rosemary for scent.
I am planning to make the ones for the wedding on the morning of the wedding so that they will be fresh for a long day out of water. It is important when planning buttonholes to use materials that last well out of water and are quite sturdy so that they do not crush easily – there is a lot of hugging at weddings. If in doubt test all the materials beforehand so that you know how they will behave.
These were made very quickly – about 10 minutes for each one once everything was ready, so I expect to be able to make all the buttonholes in about an hour. That will only leave the brides bouquet and 5 bridesmaids bouquets to be made on the morning of the wedding – nothing to worry about then!!
These buttonholes are just for practice – I need to revisit buttonholes over the next few weeks, both to finalise a design for the wedding and also to practice my technique so that I can be as quick as possible on the day.
Next week I will be on the Wedding Intensive Course on Tuesday and Wednesday – Wedding Wednesday will feature the arrangements that I practice there and may have to be published on Thursday as I will not be home until late Wednesday evening..