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‘Pocket garden’ buttonhole tutorial

Hello again, and welcome to my series of floral design tutorials. This one is for a modern take on a traditional buttonhole, designed to sit inside the breast pocket of a gentleman’s jacket. Easy to wear and just a little bit different, this design is perfect for a garden wedding or even a day at the races.

To make one of these ‘pocket gardens’, you will need –

  • Quality thick cardboard
  • Broad hessian or other natural ribbon
  • Floral glue
  • Florists scissors or snips
  • Ruler and pen
  • Cocktail or kebab sticks
  • Selection of well-conditioned flowers, foliage and seed heads

First measure the inside width of the jacket pocket. The weight of the finished design means the pocket must be open and not a decorative stitched ‘fake’ pocket. The depth of the pocket doesn’t need to be measured unless it’s unusually shallow and this may limit the size of the design to stop it being too heavy. Deduct 2-3 millimetres from your measurement to allow for the thickness of the cardboard and the hessian ribbon.

Mark out in pen on your white card the width of the pocket (don’t forget to deduct a couple of millimetres) and allow a generous length for the part of the cardboard that will be inserted into the pocket. This will depend on the depth of the pocket and on how much of the ‘garden’ you would like standing above the pocket top. The top of some men’s jacket pockets are angled gently, I followed the curve of this and reflected it in the top of the cardboard shape.

I used broad hessian ribbon to cover the cardboard, but you can use any ribbon. The broader the ribbon the easier it will be to get a neat finish without too many overlaps adding to the thickness of the cardboard. Use your floral adhesive to secure the ribbon, keeping it tight and tucking in any edges. You can also cut away some of the overlap to reduce bulk. I left the bottom half uncovered to reduce bulk within the pocket. If your ribbon is not wide enough to attach in the same orientation as this one, attach in the centre at the back with floral adhesive and then wind around the cardboard horizontally with a neat overlap. Continue to wind and apply glue at the back to secure. Leave until completely dry before you begin designing.

Before you begin designing, take a look at the jacket where the lapel crosses over the inside corner of the pocket. In some jacket designs with larger lapels, a good portion of the inside edge of the pocket is covered (although when worn rather than on the hanger, the overlap may be a little smaller). Just bear this small overlap in mind when creating your design as the lapel will need to be tucked behind your pocket garden inside edge. Here you might want to use sturdy stems, or greenery to act as a buffer against the lapel.

I like to lay out a design loosely just to see how the finished design will look. Cut your flower and foliage stems short, but leave just enough length to insert in and amongst the design. Choose flowers that are not too large and heavy as they will tip forward when sitting in the pocket. Seed heads are a good choice as they’re light and also long lasting out of water. Once you’re happy with the design remove all the stems and lay them out in approximately the layout you chose.

Begin attaching your stems, remembering to add them in ‘layers’ working from the top outside edges, inwards. Add flowers and foliage on top of these layers so that your finished design isn’t flat, but three dimensional. Ensure that your flower stems are well sealed with floral adhesive as this acts as a water retainer for the stem (like floral tape would in a traditional buttonhole). You can also insert thinner stems (with the ends dipped in floral adhesive) into small gaps between other stems.

Work neatly and gently remove any loose glue strands as you build the design. I use a cocktail stick or kebab stick to help insert stems into the right spots.

Lightly mist your finished design and use the same day. This design lasted well all day without any additional misting. You may be able to create the evening before an event with sturdier stems. This example tested the next morning was soft at the tips of the tallest delphinium stem and some of the delphinium flowers were noticeably drying.

Other stems to try here are small green or dried poppy seed heads, wheat, grasses, cornflowers, spray roses, geums , waxflower, eryngiums and echinops, craspedia, small echeveria, acroclinum, brunia, limonium and statice. The design suits small details and a good variety of textures. Experiment by adding curly twisted decorative wire or other textured dried material like Spanish moss.

I hope you enjoy creating. I would love to see your designs –

Share your photos with me over on Instagram and tag me so that I can see them –

Anne-Marie x

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