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Crafts DIY / Tutorials

Cotton Branches ~ DIY Farmhouse Decor

I’m all about penny-pinching, and you know I love the rustic farmhouse style. When I wanted to add a bit of nature to my decor I thought of purchasing a few cotton branches from an online source. Then I found they were $10 a piece (that’s for one measly branch!), I said to myself, “It’s DIY time.”

DIY Farmhouse Cotton Branches with Video Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

To say that I’m stoked to make a vase full of cotton branches and a wreath for less than $4 is an understatement. Woo hoo! Who doesn’t love to save that kind of money? You also get the satisfaction of creating your own decor.

Want to make some of your own?  I’ve got three short and sweet video tutorials that will show you how.

DIY Farmhouse Cotton Branches - A Video Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

Here is what you’ll need:

  • bag of 200 jumbo cotton balls ($1.88 at Walmart)
  • roll of brown floral tape (found in craft stores – mine was $1.56 from local florist)
  • low temp glue gun/glue sticks (if you use a high temp gun, be careful!!)
  • brown paper lunch bag or craft paper
  • brown ink pad/shoe polish/stain – whatever you have on hand
  • scissors
  • small branches and tiny twigs
  • grapevine wreath – I find mine at thrift stores already decorated for 50 cents, then tear them apart)

Materials for Cotton Branches by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

Typically a cotton branch has an alternate structure where branches are on opposing sides like this:

Whorled Leaf Design Example | Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

My branches and twigs came from my back yard and did not have that alternate pattern, so I made it myself using piece of twig and floral tape. Watch the video for a demonstration.

Subscribe to Prodigal Pieces on YouTube for DIY video tutorials and a whole lotta fun | prodigalpieces.com

Now we’ve got our branches and will move on to the cotton tufts. Take yourself back to the good old days of covering your text books with a paper sack cover. You’re going to take your lunch sack and cut down one corner and cut off the bottom, so that it lays open like this:

Cutting Paper Bag of Cotton Branches by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

Take your scissors and rough cut a 3″ square.  Once you have your square, fold it in half in both directions.  This will create a faux vein look in your bud leaves.  To make the best use of my time I did all my cutting, folding, and staining at once.When I first started making the leaves I tried a fringed leaf like this:

Closeup Cotton Bud by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

And then also just a rounded leaf like this (as shown in the video):

Closeup Cotton Bud by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

I found I preferred the second version, but included a mixture of them in my vase display because when you look at a real cotton branches, there are two layers of leaves and the outside set is fringed.  You could even do a double layer if you feel so inclined – it would create awesome texture.

Vase of DIY Farmhouse Cotton Branches by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

Now we’ve got our branch and leaves, so now we need to add the cotton.  I used jumbo sized cotton balls because that’s what I found, but any size will do, you will just need more to make them the size that I did.  For a bloomed bud, I used 2-3 balls, but for a closed bud, I just used one.  Varying the size makes them look more natural.  Refer to the video above for the method I use.

To make one branch from start to finish took about 10 minutes, once I got it down.  So in hour’s time I got 6 branches for a vase full of farmhouse goodness.

If you’re interested in the wreath project, it’s the same method except for this I didn’t add little twigs to create that alternate pattern because the fresh cut branches I used already had a bit of alternate design. I also just glued the buds directly to the branch because I didn’t need to create as dramatic of difference.Material for DIY Farmhouse Cotton Wreath by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

I like the wild and natural look wreath, but you could certainly fill it full to create a lush wreath.

Rustic Farmhouse Wreath with DIY Cotton Stems by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

Cotton Branch Wreath Closeup by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

I’m already having fun adding them here and there in different displays in my home.  They add such a soft, natural element that will last for years to come. (as long as my cat doesn’t get the better of them – ahem)

Blue Stoneware Pitcher with DIY Cotton Branches by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

And I can use them to help stage pieces for my shop. Double score!

Shop Prodigal Pieces | shop.prodigalpieces.com

Rustic Farmhouse Table by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.  I hope you have fun creating your own farmhouse cotton branches.  I’d love to see pictures of your projects!
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More farmhouse style projects like my cotton branches:

DIY Barn Wood Shutters from Pallets by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

DIY Faux Farmhouse Barn Beam Ceiling by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Time to party!!  These ladies have put together a vast array of DIY projects for you to feast your eyes on. To maximize all there is to offer, be sure to use the hashtag: #BestofDIY on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Best of DIY Link Party - Farmhouse Cotton Ball Branches by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces


61 replies on “Cotton Branches ~ DIY Farmhouse Decor”

I have always been a penny pincher…..even now when I don’t HAVE to be! Love that you made your own!!! They are so close to looking like the real thing! YOU GO GIRL!!

Larissa, I think they are just perfect and easier than I imagined they would be to make. You did an amazing job of the videos and you are quite right, they explain things so much better than dozens of photos. I can’t believe how amazing all the #BestofDIY projects are.
Hugs ~ Kerryanne

Larissa, These are so beautiful and I can’t believe you made them!! Love them and I saw them on Hometalk too and was giggling over the comments and your comments back were fabulous. LOVE it and wish I had a bouquet on my mantel.
have a great weekend, Lisa

Just OMG!!!! When I saw the post I ohhhhed and ahhhhhed, and was telling my hubs how gorgeous the cotton stalks and bolls are.. I was about to ask him to get some out of a field for me (he is a sales rep in the farming industry) when I got to the part where you said you made them. I almost fell out of my chair. We both grew up in a small cotton farming community and have even picked cotton for his grandfather. Yours are AHHHHMAZING! I am definitely going to give this a try, for many reasons. But I know mine won’t turn out as realistic as yours. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing!

[…] Have you ever priced out cotton ball branches?  They are very expensive.  Today thanks to Larissa of Prodigal Pieces we can make our own for a very small cost.  She is a homeschooling mother of six that loves thrifting and crafting.  She’s shows us via pictures how to make these with a step-by-step tutorial.  You can display them in a rustic vase or make them into a charming wreath. I think this is a very clever project and I hope that you all give them a try.   I want to thank Larissa for coming up with this witty idea. TUTORIAL HERE! […]

I love the finished product, but can’t get the videos to load. It’s on my end, not yours, but isn’t something I can fix any time soon. I know the videos are easier & some people love them, and I know you can’t please all the people, all the time, lol. Just hoping the change won’t be permanent or completely eliminate the step-by step instructions. 🙂

Larissa, you are so right. I’ve looked at these in stores and been shocked by the price. Thank you for a tutorial to make them. I’m sharing this on my Friday Faves this week.

Hi 1st time viewer. And I just loved the cotton branches. Great videos, also. Could you please tell me what stain you used, I couldn’t make it out. I’m new at this looking at these ideals, but yours are the best I’ve seen so far. I’ve already pinned it and will be making some. Thank you so very much.

I live within walking distance of a cotton farm. Every year I am so tempted to go snag a few blooming branches. However, I always chicken out because I picture getting caught and thrown in jail for unlawful cottin’ pickin’! lol…This is a much safer alternative! Thanks! 🙂

Awesome…I have always loved Joanna Gaines farm house looks on the tv show Fixer Upper and have always wanted to have those pretty little white cotton puffs all over my house, but like you said they do cost a bit. So I’m very greatful to you for showing how I can make these myself, thank you so much! And I think your videos are really great! They are simple and easy to watch, I like how you do them! Keep up the creativity and thanks again for your generosity…

Oh, that’s awesome Lisa Jo! Yes, I just can’t fork out the dough for those fake things and would rather do it myself. I’m happy to hear you like the videos, they’re so much easier then writing everything out. Have fun!

I complimented you, Larissa, on your bolls on Hometalk; thanks for sending me your blog. I wanted some bolls last Fall and since I hadn’t yet seen your instructions, I followed those of Craftberry Bush. Lucy, the creator, makes hers using cardboard egg cartons that are easily cut, shaped then painted in brown tones. They are then glued to real twigs and look pretty real! Another method I saw was to remove the “scales” from very large pine cones that are then glued (4 for each boll) to large cotton puffs then attached to real twigs. I haven’t tried that method yet but plan to do so plus your method then I will see which method is my favorite! I’ve always loved looking at the cotton fields when driving every year from Canada to the South. Now, I can make a pretty realistic substitute for the real thing!

Hi Elaine. Yes, Lucy did that tutorial not long ago and I have seen my blogger friends do the pinecones too. I made this tutorial back in 2015 and am still using it today. All are wonderful ways to make your own decor. Have fun!

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