Cotton Branches ~ DIY Farmhouse Decor

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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 understatment. 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

I’m excited to have these video tutorials because it saves me from taking a zillion different pictures and trying to get across the technique in photo form. This was our first attempt (my 12-year-old and I), so bear with us as we learn!

In this first video, you’ll need a tree/bush branch and smaller diameter twig. 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.

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. The next video demonstrates doing one leaf being created.

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.  Watch the next video on 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!

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



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59 Comments

  • Susan Homeroad

    OMG I love this Larissa… They look so real! I want to try this… it looks great on the wreath too!

    March 20, 2015 at 6:56 am Reply
    • Larissa

      {giggle} Thank you, Susan! 🙂 Let me know what you think when you do!

      March 20, 2015 at 7:25 am Reply
  • Marie@The Interior Frugalista

    Larissa I’ve admired the cotton branches staged in your furniture makeover photos and had no idea you made them. Wow! Great video tutorials too. I am pinning this and definitely going on a branch hunt in my back yard. Thanks!

    March 20, 2015 at 9:34 am Reply
  • Nancy Stone

    Love this idea!

    March 20, 2015 at 10:16 am Reply
  • Ellen Braunberger

    Think these will cost me zero as I shop my house!

    March 20, 2015 at 10:27 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Yes! The only thing I had to purchase was the floral tape. Have fun!

      March 20, 2015 at 11:00 am Reply
  • Cathy

    Oh, I have to try this. Love it and am pinning it. Thanks for the video. Cathy

    March 20, 2015 at 11:33 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Yes, try it Cathy! You’re welcome. Hopefully we can fine tune our video skills. 😉

      March 20, 2015 at 12:48 pm Reply
  • Deb

    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!!

    March 20, 2015 at 12:50 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      I don’t think I’ll ever live another way. {doing the cabbage patch} now I’m dating myself. tsk.

      March 20, 2015 at 10:10 pm Reply
  • Kelly Deal

    How lovely! Thank you for the tutorial!

    March 20, 2015 at 1:41 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      You’re most welcome, Kelly!

      March 20, 2015 at 10:09 pm Reply
  • Diana // Dreams Factory

    I’ve always wanted to try making my own cotton branches, so thank you, your tutorial is amazing! Pinning and definitely trying this!
    Regards,
    Diana

    March 20, 2015 at 4:42 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Fantastic! I’d love to see what you do with it. Thank you for sharing. 😉

      March 20, 2015 at 10:09 pm Reply
  • Yvonne Pratt

    Through this whole post I kept saying out loud… Wow, this is cool… Wow, this is so cool… Oh my! LOVE this great diy, Larissa!
    It is really brilliant! Gotta make some for my home!

    March 20, 2015 at 5:39 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      That rocks, Yvonne! So glad you enjoyed it. Show me if you make some! 🙂

      March 20, 2015 at 10:09 pm Reply
  • Anne

    Great tutorial Larissa, and beautiful job too! They look the the real thing!

    March 20, 2015 at 6:48 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Woo hoo! Thank you, Anne.

      March 20, 2015 at 10:08 pm Reply
  • Kerryanne @ Shabby Art Boutique

    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

    March 21, 2015 at 5:13 am Reply
    • Larissa

      We’re rocking the party, Kerryanne! Thank you for stopping by. It was fun to learn the video setup, and it can only get better from here. 🙂

      March 21, 2015 at 9:58 pm Reply
  • Paula@SweetPea

    You are so clever! This is definitely something that I’d love to make for my own home!

    March 21, 2015 at 9:11 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Ha! Thanks, Paula. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

      March 21, 2015 at 10:00 pm Reply
  • Lisa

    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

    March 21, 2015 at 4:42 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you for your sweet words, Lisa. Yes, Hometalk can be brutal and I have to hold back sometimes. tsk.

      March 21, 2015 at 10:01 pm Reply
  • Jill Flory

    I LOVE this! You can’t even tell in the photos that it isn’t real cotton bolls till you read your tutorial! Great job.

    March 21, 2015 at 9:15 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Awww…thank you, Jill! Glad you stopped by. 🙂

      March 21, 2015 at 9:57 pm Reply
  • Nancy @ Artsy Chicks Rule

    Wow…that is an awesome DIY Larissa! So creative, love it!
    Nancy

    March 22, 2015 at 3:31 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Nancy! Glad you stopped by. 🙂

      March 23, 2015 at 6:31 am Reply
  • Patti

    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!

    March 22, 2015 at 5:47 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      You are too stinkin’ sweet!! Thank you for making my day. {{hugs}}

      March 23, 2015 at 6:30 am Reply
  • Wendi @ H2OBungalow

    These rock! We grew up with cotton fields nearby and yours look pretty darn convincing! Great job:) Pinned & sharing !!

    March 22, 2015 at 8:58 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Wendi! That mean a bunch since I’ve never laid eyes on the real deal. 🙂

      March 23, 2015 at 6:29 am Reply
  • Karen

    Shut The front door!!! I can’t believe that you made these! Best DIY ever!!!!

    March 23, 2015 at 6:26 am Reply
    • Larissa

      tee hee hee. Thanks!!

      March 23, 2015 at 6:28 am Reply
  • Marianne

    Oh how inventive and cool. Love it!

    March 23, 2015 at 11:02 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thanks, Marianne! Now to make more…tee hee.

      March 23, 2015 at 9:06 pm Reply
  • Christine Cook

    Absolutely gorgeous!! I happily pinned!

    March 24, 2015 at 8:10 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Woot! Thank you, Christine!!

      March 24, 2015 at 2:06 pm Reply
  • Farmhouse Cotton Branches Tutorial – Felting

    […] 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! […]

    March 24, 2015 at 5:55 pm Reply
  • Carla

    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. 🙂

    March 27, 2015 at 4:46 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Carla. Hmmm…can you tell me what type of computer, tablet, etc. you’re using to view it? I would like to check into it. Thanks!

      March 27, 2015 at 5:43 pm Reply
  • Mary Beth|Cupcakes and Crinoline

    You are so amazingly talented. Another project of yours to love!

    March 30, 2015 at 5:47 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, girl! So glad you stopped by. 😉

      March 30, 2015 at 10:23 pm Reply
  • Amanda

    What a fantastic idea and it turned out so beautiful!

    April 8, 2015 at 8:39 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you so much, Amanda. It was simple and gave quick results…my kind of project!

      April 9, 2015 at 3:10 pm Reply
  • Laurie

    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.

    April 11, 2015 at 10:22 am Reply
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    April 17, 2015 at 12:22 pm Reply
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    April 28, 2015 at 7:01 am Reply
  • sharon

    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.

    August 7, 2015 at 1:46 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Hi there, Sharon! I just used a dark ink pad found in most crafts stores, WalMart, etc. So happy to hear you like it! Have fun!

      August 7, 2015 at 1:43 pm Reply
  • Lisa

    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! 🙂

    October 8, 2015 at 7:44 am Reply
    • Larissa

      hahaha….I don’t blame you, Lisa! 😉 I hope you have fun with it.

      October 9, 2015 at 5:43 am Reply
  • Lisa Jo

    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…

    November 18, 2015 at 1:10 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      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!

      November 18, 2015 at 7:37 pm Reply
  • Esther

    Awesome tutorial! Just saved $50 by making my own cotton boll wreath!! Thanks for sharing!

    July 30, 2016 at 4:21 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      So awesome to hear, Esther! My pleasure.

      July 31, 2016 at 6:16 am Reply
  • Elaine

    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!

    February 13, 2017 at 11:23 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      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!

      February 14, 2017 at 5:03 am Reply

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