DIY Wreaths and Braids

Make these DIY wreaths and braids using inexpensive raffia, includes instructions for making a braided wreath base, an everlasting braid and decorating a raffia wreath.

| October/November 1992

  • Make these homemade DIY wreaths and braids to decorate your home or give as gifts.
    Make these homemade DIY wreaths and braids to decorate your home or give as gifts.
    Photo: Fotolia/lynnealbright

  • Make these homemade DIY wreaths and braids to decorate your home or give as gifts.

These DIY wreaths and braids make a perfect decoration for the home or as a thoughtful handmade gift.

How to Make DIY Wreaths and Braids

Raffia is a humble-looking and rel­atively inexpensive material of many uses that is sold by the hank at craft stores. Basketmakers use it in coil baskets for forming and wrapping the coil as well as for binding the coils to­gether. Chair seat weavers sometimes use it in children’s chairs, whereas weavers may work it into coarse cloth to add texture. Raffia bows are appropriate for rough-hewn country crafts, and raffia is the material of choice for the ­protective basket on chianti bottles. Pliable, neutral in color, and easy to braid or twist, raffia also provides its own wrapping and ties. Here are two creative, attractive uses for braided raffia bundles offered by herb craftspersons Linda Fry Kenzle and Barbara Radcliffe Rogers.

1. Linda’s Everlasting Braid

An everlasting braid provides a decorator touch for places where nothing else fits. Especially suitable beside a door or for brightening a long, narrow wall space anywhere, the woven braid can be made with any weaving material and decorated with any dried herbs or everlastings you choose. We’ve chosen raffia, but Linda also recommends weeping willow, cattail, rope, cord, and yarn.

To make the braid as shown, separate a bundle of raffia that will be 5/8 to 3/4 inch thick when wound tightly, and use scissors to cut it, if necessary, to a length of about 5 feet. Each piece in a hank of raffia usually has a wide and a narrow end, and if all the wide ends have been packaged together, the braid will not be even from end to end. To solve this problem, divide the cut bundle and reverse the directions of half the strands.

Lay the bundle out on the floor and tie a short piece of raffia around the very center of the strands. Fold the bundle in half at that tie, and tie a second short piece of raffia around all the strands about 4 inches from the fold. This forms the hanging loop.

Now take off your shoes, sit down on the floor, and put one foot through the hanging loop; or tie the loop to a doorknob or clamp it to a table. Separate the raffia into three equal bundles, and braid them tightly as though you were braiding hair. When you have about 8 inches left to braid, tie off the braid at the bottom with a separate strand of raffia. You may find it easier to use a rubber band to keep the braid from coming undone while you tie it. The unbraided “tail” will provide a finishing touch.

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