Easy to find and inexpensive, bandannas provide plenty of decorative bang for your buck. For example, use these colorful hankies to fashion boy-howdy bases for topiaries. To make each base, choose a pot that has a bottom hole and that is slightly larger than the topiary planter. If the planter also has a bottom hole, add a plastic liner under it to keep the fabric dry. Spread out a bandanna and set the empty pot in the middle. Reach under the pot and push the center of the bandanna through the hole about an inch to help create pleats. Gather the top left corner of the bandanna into loose pleats and fold it over the pot's rim, tucking the corner down into the bottom. Repeat on the bottom right corner and the two remaining corners. Tuck and rearrange the gathers to even out. Tie on a length of cord, rope or twine. Place the potted topiary inside, and spread a little moss around the stem to finish the look. (To view an instructional video showing more creative ways to decorate with bandannas, visit www.youtube.com/CountrySamplerMag)
For a windowsill or tabletop showpiece that really breaks the mold, rework vintage metal molds, cookie cutters or tart pans into a stylish display spot. Start with a larger pan as a base, such as this rectangular one with scalloped sides, and cut a piece of scrapbook paper or fabric to fit in the bottom. Next, line up a trio of shapely molds or cookie cutters inside; place patterned cupcake liners in the molds, spreading them out to fill the space. Last, outfit the accent with candles, small vases or other petite items to complete the arrangement.
Build your own bunch of red-white-and-blue blooms with patriotic party supplies. To construct these festive flowers, pick up seasonal cupcake liners and paper straws; you'll also need floral wire, a glue gun and buttons. Layer three liners together with patterns facing out; cut petals as desired. Poke a piece of wire through the center of the liners, and then twist the front end into a small loop and flatten. Insert the stem end of the wire into a straw and apply glue to the top end of the straw to secure it to the flower. Glue a button onto the center and then fluff the liners.
Give your decor a sugar rush: Fill old-fashioned ice cream glasses with Americana-colored rock candy to craft sweet bases for votives. Stick with a single color per glass, or layer the candy for a striped effect. Build several of these budget-friendly accents, and collect them on a tray in the middle of the picnic table for a centerpiece with plenty of patriotic panache.
Designed and styled by Nancy Borsodi.