Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a wreath. Better still, a homemade wreath. And who better to tell us how to make one than the one and only glorious Kirstie Allsopp (one of our favourite women: smart, funny, honest and inspiring. Plus, she’s a dab hand on the crafts front). She very kindly allowed us to include this extract from her fabulous new book Kirstie’s Christmas Crafts (Hodder & Stoughton, £20).
“Floral designer Kitten Graham makes magical Christmas wreaths, thick with festive foliage and flowers that look sensational on any front door. I’ve made a few wreaths in my time, and you can definite;y save money doing your own. The tricky is not to scrimp when applying the sack moss to the wire frame as it’s the basis for a really sumptuous and full design. You can buy sack moss from your local florist or garden centre, but make sure it’s nice and damp as that will help your evergreens to stay fresh and lush. If you want to get straight on to decorating the wreath, skip the first two steps below and buy a ready-made base instead.
You will need… Reel wire * 2cm raised wire wreath frame * Sack moss (make sure it’s nice and moist) * 6-7 big pine branches * Eucalyptus (because it smells divine) * Extra foliage, such as myrtle berry, mimosa, holly and ivy * 5-7 steam hypericum berries * Reindeer moss (ours looked feathery and silvery) * Glitter (optional) * Gauge wire (thicker than reel wire and comes in pre-cut lengths) * Optional extra decorations, such as white wax flowers, pine cones, dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks and glittered up berries, black peppercorns, dried roses and crab apples.
1. To make the moss base, unravel a bit of your reel wire and attach it with a twist to the frame. Now begin placing generous handfuls of sack moss around the frame, packing it tightly together and winding the reel wire around it tightly as you go. Whatever you do, don’t scrimp – the moss should feel thick and dense. Do a second later of moss to really thicken it out, and continue binding with the wire. Don’t worry about it not being neat: the moss won’t be seen when it’s dressed.
2. When full, turn the wreath over and cut the wire, leaving a 20cm end. Push it from back to front through the centre of the moss, then back again. Do this a few times, until the wire is eaten up the moss, then twist he last bit around the inner ring on the back of the frame.
3. Cut the pine and eucalyptus into pieces about 10-15cm long and begin grouping them into fan-like clusters. They should look luscious and full with no gaps. Snip off any naked pointy bits.
4. Place the wreath right side up and lay the first fan-cluster of greenery on top of the moss. Secure by wrapping reel wire around the stems. Continue covering the moss with small fan-clusters, securing them tightly with wire, until the front of the wreath is completely covered.
5. To cover the inside of the wreath, add smaller finger-sized pieces of greenery and secure them with wire. While doing so, take a good look at the shape of your wreath and lightly tie down any stray foliage. You want it to look even all round. When finished, tie off the wire as in step 2.
6. Now to the fun bit – decorating. It’s essential to have a theme – ours was hypericum berries, dried hydrangeas and reindeer moss – but dried roses are exquisite, and glittered crab apples look very Christmasysy too. Before you start, look at your wreath and think about where you’re going to place things. Odd numbers work best, and you must always aim for balance.
7. Cut the stems of your flowers and berries on a slant so they have a pointy end. Pierce the first berry stem deep into the moss, then continue adding the other berry stems at regular intervals around the wreath.
8. Now add the hydrangeas in the sam way. If you struggle to get things well into the moss, simply attach them using the gauge wire.
9. To add the reindeer moss, bend a length of wire in half, pierce it through the side of a clump and push the ends through to the back of the wreath. Bend into a loop and twist the ends to fasten. The loop shouldn’t be visible with this method. Continue adding reindeer moss around the wreath in this way, filling in the gaps between the hydrangeas and berries.
10. To make a hook, take two long gauge wires and bend them into a hook shape. Locate the top of your wreath and pierce the gauge wire through from the back and around the outer ring of your frame. Bring the hook ends up at the back and secure with a twist
Thank you so much, Kirstie!