How to make a French Beaded Boutonniere

I recently finished a custom ordered French Beaded Wedding bouquet with a tropical theme! It was such a fun and challenging project. I’ll put some pictures of the finished bouquet at the end. Someday I will teach how to make wedding bouquets, though it will probably be in a book. But for now I wanted to show you all one way that I’ve made a groom’s boutonniere with French Beaded Flowers.

When making boutonnieres made of beaded flowers, it’s important to consider the weight. Beads and wire are heavy, or at least heavier than fresh or silk flowers that are normally used for boutonnieres. Too much weight will be harder to secure and may be more prone to wobbling or making the coat sag. So, smaller, light-weight flowers and leaves will be better. I wanted to have one flower in each of the colors of the bouquet – hot pink, orange, and blue. Of the flowers made, I selected a small hot pink rose bud, an orange orchid, and one of the tiny blue flowers. Any of the other flowers in the bouquet would have been too heavy. But, I decided that the rose buds I made for the bouquet would be too large and heavy for the boutonniere. To make a smaller rose I used the same rose bud from my Sweetheart Rose pattern, but made it using size 15 seed beads and 26 gauge wire. The orchid and lignum vitae (blue flower) were already small and light-weight, so I didn’t need to alter those. Of the foliage in the bouquet, the palm leaves were smaller and lighter-weight, and luckily I had some leftover from the palms I made for the bouquet. So they made a nice background for the flowers, and I think the spikey look of the leaves adds to the tropical / exotic look.

The total weight for this boutonniere was 80.7 grams, including the backing (which we’ll talk about in a little bit). I feel that the one I’ve made here is right at the edge of acceptable weight, and anything heavier would be too much. If you can’t find a way to pare down the weight of the beaded items, consider using a mix of beaded and silk flowers and foliage.

Another consideration is weight distribution. Position flowers so the heaviest flowers are in the back and the lighter ones in the front. This will help keep it from becoming overly front-heavy. If necessary, spread the weight sideways, rather than forward.

I began assembly with the flowers, but you could switch it and assemble the leaves first, then add the flowers on top. In order to keep weight and stem thickness as minimal as possible, I did not mount any of these flowers on a steel florist stem wire like I did for the bouquet. Instead, when making individual petals I left the bottom wires long enough so I could combine them together to make the flower stems.

Use wire or floral tape to bind the flowers together in the arrangement you have planned. I used 30 gauge wire because I like the added security of a wire assembly. To make assembly a little easier, I combined the leaves into bunches. That way I only need to deal with attaching two stem wires, rather than the five there would be with individual leaf stems. I added the leaf bunches with wire as well, then wrapped over with floral tape so I could have a nice smooth surface to attach the backing and wrap the ribbon.

Now let’s talk about the backing. Previously, I’ve used very long brooch pins for boutonnieres. And while this did technically work, I was never completely happy with the hold. What I used this time was a pair of Boutstix. I purchased mine in a pack of 7 from Amazon here (<< This is an affiliate link. I do get a small percentage of the sales if you purchase after clicking my link, but there is no extra cost for you.) These are little plastic sticks with magnets that have been specifically designed for use in boutonnières. Each stick has two parts, the longer stick with magnets that is attached to the boutonnière, and a smaller bar of magnets that goes underneath the suit coat. Normal fresh or silk flower boutonnières only need one Boutstix, but for these heavier beaded ones I used two. There’s two reasons for needing two sticks: 1 – due to weight, and 2 – to prevent wobbling. Even if a single stick is enough to hold the weight vertically, it might still have movement side-to-side. But having two sticks creates a wider backing that better holds the horizontal weight.

For a secure hold, the Boutstix need to be glued to the back of the boutonnière in a very slight V-shape. The magnets on them should be high up behind the weightiest part of the boutonnière, which is going to be right behind the flowers, not below them. I glued mine to both the leaves and to the stem. Then wrap over the sticks and stem with floral tape for a nice finish. (If you need a glue recommendation, I would use E6000 or hot glue.)

After the magnets are attached, wrap the stem. I used a 1/2 inch satin ribbon. First, I cut a small portion of ribbon and glued one end to the front of the boutonniere stem. Leave the other half un-glued for now. To attach the spool ribbon to the stem, I glued it to the bottom of the stem on the back side. Fold the other half of the first short ribbon over the bottom of the stem and up the back, then glue it down. This will completely cover where you’ve attached the spool ribbon, and make sure the bottom of the stem gets covered too. Next step is to wrap the ribbon up the stem at an angle. The ribbon should overlap the previous wrap about half-way. Try to keep the wraps evenly spaced. Measure the tail so it will end on the back of the stem where it will be less visible. Cutting ribbon leaves an unfinished end that easily frays. To prevent this, run a flame from a lighter along the length of the cut edge briefly to seal those fibers.

I put the smaller magnet bars on horizontally to span between the two Boutstix, rather than vertically as you would do when using a single stick, but I believe both orientations would work suitably.

I did test this setup and it was successful! For my test I put on one of my husband’s suit coats, which was huge on me. Then I added the boutonniere and jumped and thrashed about my studio. And it held firm! Did not wobble or sag. It does come off if you grab the boutonniere and pull, but regular movements don’t affect it.

This is not the only way to make a boutonniere, but it is a way that worked very well for me. You could possibly rig something similar using pins by attaching them in a v-shape to create a wider base that narrows at the stem. I assume there are other types of magnets that would also work just fine, like a large round one attached behind the flowers. Just be certain they are strong magnets and go for a wide base to firmly hold the horizontal weight.

Naturally, this setup won’t be safe for anyone that has a pacemaker. Magnets interfere with those sorts of devices, so please check with the person wearing the boutonniere to make sure it’s safe for them.

And here is the bouquet that the boutonniere was made to match! The bouquet is 18 inches long from the top of the Monstera leaf to the end of the cascade and weighs 3 pounds and 12 ounces. She will be traveling with the bride to Jamaica for the wedding.

Happy beading to you all!

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