DIY Fall Lantern Swag Tutorial

DIY Fall Lantern Swag by SouthernCharmWreaths

Have you heard of them? The floral arrangements that sit on top of a lantern.  Apparently they are called lantern swags and they are growing in popularity. Decorating with lanterns became a trend a few years ago and I guess people are now tired of looking at their plain lanterns and are searching for ways to jazz them up.  I mean, why just add a bow when you can add a whole floral arrangement on top of it!!

My ebook customers and Facebook followers kept asking me if I knew how to make a lantern swag; of course I didn’t.  Okay let’s be honest, I had to Google the darn things to find out what the heck they were talking about. Haha!!  Then I noticed a lot of people asking this same question in other groups and forums I follow. So I decided I need to figure out what all the buzz is about and learn how to make these things.

After extensive research, which lasted all of an hour because, let’s face it, there were only about three tutorials online and they were still not very clear on the process.  I decided I would buy one to get a closer look on how to make them.  So I ordered a gorgeous one from Kristen’s Creations.  It is amazingly beautiful and full of flowers and after closely examining it, decided I think I can make this.  Well my first attempts were, shall we say, lacking in shape and style.  After I made a few, frustration set in and then I realized that I may be over thinking this process and started playing around.

Then a technique took shape that seems to work for me and maybe it will work for you too.

Below is my DIY Fall Lantern Swag Video Tutorial

(scroll to the bottom for the complete video)

What you will need:

  • Scissors, Wire Cutters, Floral Wire (or pipe cleaners if you have fat fingers like me), Zip Ties, Glue Gun
  • Ribbon 2.5” & 1.5” widths for a bow with 5 loops measuring a yard each
  • Floral picks –Here is a tip, purchase floral picks that are premade with items that are already wired together in layers and give a cascading effect. I purchased mine from Carolina Pottery and Hobby Lobby
  • Filler – These can be cut from larger flower bushes but can be small flowers, fall leaves, berries, etc. I purchased mine from Hobby Lobby
  • Add-ins – These are items like pine cones (save money by using fresh –How To Prepare Pine Cones), pumpkins, ornaments, flowers, etc.
  • Larger focal points – This can be hanging ornaments, larger flowers, etc.
  • Lantern – The one used for this tutorial measures 18” tall but I’ve used this technique on lanterns measuring 14” & 20” tall and it works great! These decorative lanterns on Amazon are perfect.

Now let me show you my technique for making a fall lantern swag, if you want the video, scroll to the bottom.

Step 1 – Choose Your Colors
I find that for beginners, it is best to pick three colors from the floral pick and then make sure all the other elements in the arrangement contain these same three colors.  For example; once your floral pick is selected, choose filler flowers, picks, add-ins and ribbon that contain these three colors. Of course, this is not a hard rule but only my suggestion for beginners.  Once you get the feel for color coordinating, you can mix and match any color under the rainbow.

DIY Fall Lantern Swag -How to Choose the Colors for your Lantern Swag

Step 2 – Base Assembly
Assemble the base by gathering and layering the floral picks, fillers, add-ins, and focal piece in your hand.  I find it is best to stagger the items all the way up.  Make sure that it is long enough to cover the entire length of the lantern on one side to create a cascading effect.  Then switch and add shorter pieces of flowers, filler, add-ins and picks going in the opposite direction.  Use your hand to gather all the items and this also saves a space for the bow so make sure to leave enough room so that your bow is not too crowded.  Once you have the items positioned in your hand, use zip ties and zip tie the stems together. I use two zip ties for added security.  Once you like what you have, zip tie the stems together in two places.

DIY Fall Lantern Swag - How to Assemble the Base of a Lantern Swag

Step 3 – Bow
For the bow, you can easily make a regular bow, but for me I like to have more ribbon colors so I make a funky bow. Start by cutting two pieces of the 2.5” width ribbon and three pieces of the 1.5” width ribbons 1 yard long. I like to be able to form 5 loops, so 5 pieces of ribbon whether you choose all one ribbon or mix it up like I did, but all measuring 36” long.

To form the loops of the bow, I come up 6-8” from the bottom of one streamer and pinch. Then fold the ribbon away from you making a 6” loop and pinch. Twist the ribbon so that the pretty side is facing you. Continue adding each ribbon in this same manner. Once all the ribbon is added, tie it off with a pipe cleaner. Watch the complete video below demonstrating how I make my funky bows or watch another video here.

To add the bow to the swag, twist the pipe cleaner of the bow around the swag base, trim the excess pipe cleaner off and tuck it into the swag.

Don’t forget to dove tail the ends of the ribbon to give it a professional look.

DIY Fall Lantern Swag -How to Make a Funky Bow to use in a Lantern Swag

Step 4 – Add a Tie
You can use moss covered wire or jute cover wire for the tie but in this video I used a 1.5” wide ribbon cut 50” long.  I tie it in a knot on the back up the swag base above the bow on the side containing the shorter picks.

Once you have the tie knotted around the swag base, attach it to the lantern. For my lantern, I tie it around the large part on top, you may need to secure yours on the handle as each lantern is different. I tie it in a bow on the back of the lantern.  Continue decorating the swag while it is tied onto the lantern.

DIY Fall Lantern Swag -How to Attach a Swag to a Lantern

Step 5 – Adding Filler
Using extra pieces of filler such as leaves, berries and flowers, hot glue these stems into the ribbon loops of the bow making sure the glue adheres to the ribbon.

Cut the ends of longer picks short so they can’t be seen from the front. Feel free to trim the ribbon tails if needed if they are too long. Move the ribbon tails around the swag so that some are in the front, sides and back.  I like to have long ribbon tails on the same side as the cascading flowers.  Use Uglu Dashes by Oasis to help the ribbon stay in place by taping the ribbon to the flowers.

DIY Fall Lantern Swag -How to Make your Lantern Swag full and Designer Quality

Step 5 – Hide the Mechanics
Once you have added all the filler to the bow and you like how the swag looks, take it off of the lantern and turn it over. Hot glue leftover silk leaves such as ivy on top of the pipe cleaner and zip ties in order to hide the mechanics. This gives your swag a professional look.

DIY Fall Lantern Swag -How to Clean up the Back of your Lantern Swag

There you have it, a fall lantern swag.  Here is the full video on each step above.

Here are other lantern swags I’ve made using this same technique. Aren’t they beautiful?

How to make a Lantern Swag for any season by SouthernCharmWreaths


Do you think you can manage this technique? I do!  It may take some practice but it gets easier with each one you make.

Let me know how you like this video by commenting below. And tell me, Where do you display your lanterns?

Happy Wreathing,

Julie :)

PS- If you are an ebook customer, I’m emailing you a video on how to box your lantern swag for shipping.

How to Make Deco Mesh Wreaths




Prepare Pine Cones for Wreaths

How to prepare pine cones for wreaths and crafts. I use pine cones everywhere during the fall and winter months - wreaths, garlands, Christmas trees, lanterns, etc. Great tip on wiring them too!
I love adding a bit of nature into my fall, winter and Christmas wreaths by using pine cones.  However, I also like to keep the cost of my supplies down so spending money on pine cones, which are abundant here in South Carolina, seems crazy.  I have a few pine cones in my backyard and when walking the dogs, I take a bag with me to pick up cones from other peoples’ yards, which they NEVER seem to mind–free yard cleanup!  Before using fresh pine cones, I take the time to prepare them because there can be sap and critters inside them… Um yea, don’t think my customers want live critters in their wreaths.

I found these beautiful pine cones when dropping off my daughter at Ebenezer Lutheran Church Disciple Camp at Camp Kinard here in South Carolina. They have a ton of pine cones ranging in different sizes and shapes. Jackpot!!

How to prepare pine cones for crafts. This method works for wreaths, garlands & Christmas Trees.

Check out these these larger cones the hubs found.  They will be perfect hanging on my living room Christmas tree, after I glitter them up of course!

How to prepare pine cones for crafts. This method works for wreaths, garlands & Christmas Trees.

Here is my method for preparing pine cones for my wreaths:

Step 1
Remove any debris, like pine needles and sticks.  Shake off any excess sand and dirt.  Then wash the pine cones in a sink full of water with half a cup to a cup of white vinegar.  Just swish the pine cones around to wash off any remaining sand or dirt.

How to prepare pine cones for crafts. This method works for wreaths, garlands & Christmas Trees.

Step 2
Drain the pine cones on a paper towel for a few minute so that the excess water will drain off.

How to prepare pine cones for crafts. This method works for wreaths, garlands & Christmas Trees.
Step 3
Spread the pine cones in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet and place in a 200 degree temperature oven for 1-2 hours.

How to prepare pine cones for crafts. This method works for wreaths, garlands & Christmas Trees.

Drying this way can take an hour or two depending on the size so check on them every 30 minutes or so, because they can burn.  I read that if you try to rush the drying time, they become more brittle. Baking the pine cones also helps to remove any sap they may have.

How to prepare pine cones for crafts. This method works for wreaths, garlands & Christmas Trees.

During the baking time, the pine cones will close somewhat but then open back up. Once the pine cones are completely opened, they are done. Below is an example of how the cones were closed and then starting to open after one of my 30 minute checks. Let them cool for 20 minutes before handling them.

How to prepare pine cones for crafts. This method works for wreaths, garlands & Christmas Trees.

Step 4
Now that the pine cones are baked and cooled, I prepare them to be wired into my wreaths.  To do this, use gardening gloves, because these things are prickly and use an awl to punch a hole into the stem of the cone.

How to prepare pine cones for crafts. This method works for wreaths, garlands & Christmas Trees.

Screw a screw eye into the bottom of the pine cone.  Some of the petals will fall off and that is okay.

How to prepare pine cones for crafts. This method works for wreaths, garlands & Christmas Trees.How to prepare pine cones for crafts. This method works for wreaths, garlands & Christmas Trees.
Then place a dollop of hot glue around the screw eye to ensure that it stays put.  Be careful not to cover up the hole of the screw eye.

How to prepare pine cones for crafts. This method works for wreaths, garlands & Christmas Trees.

Now they are ready to be attached to your craft, wreath creation or Christmas tree using floral wire or a pipe cleaner.  You can also spray them with a clear non yellowing sealer to give them a shine. I recommend Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating/Sealer or use them as they are.

Since it is such a long process, I do a bunch at a time and store them in a cool dry place.  I sometimes get so many, it takes me two years before I have to harvest more.

Here is a wreath using three of the pine cones pictured above.

Give Thanks fall Thanksgiving wreath with pine cones, fall leaves, funky bow, pumpkin and sign. Designed by SouthernCharmWreaths.

Do you have any tips for using pine cones? If so, leave me a comment below.

Happy Wreathing,


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