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Guerrilla Weddings: Fabric Garlands Anywhere

by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

I recently cleaned out my closet and had a few bags of clothes that were too tattered and worn to donate. Instead of tossing them, this fabric garland tutorial is a great way to use the fabric from the clothes and create a fun, easy decoration for a casual wedding.

My vision for this finished garland would be to decorate a small backyard. It could really be used anywhere that there is somewhere to hang it on, like on a fence, on bushes, or on some low hanging branches. For this post, I used it to add a little color to a basic fence in Amber’s backyard. Try your favorite local restaurant or bar that has an outdoor space and ask about renting it out. The backyards of my most loved eateries are clean and simply decorated, which make for the perfect spot for a small, lovely wedding.

Here, I used my old clothes, but you could also buy specific colors of fabric to get the exact look you want. The instructions, really, couldn’t be simpler. Gather a pile of old clothes. Both knits and wovens will work, but I’d stay away from thick sweaters. Cut the fabric in 1” – 2” strips that are the same length as the garment. It’s OK if seams end up on your strips. Tie the ends of the strips together, alternating colors and patterns. Once the garland is the length you prefer, start draping it one end of the wall you are decorating. Let varying lengths of garland hang down at different spots – you’re going for a random, yet concise, look here. Add more garland until you love it.

Photos by Monica of Hart & Sol East, Crafting and Graphic Design by Michelle Edgemont, with Crafting Assistance by Amber Marlow (all APW advertisers)

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit

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  • corrie anne

    So cute for summer parties too. Love that I can make this even though I suck at cutting. I have some old shirts of my husband’s I could definitely use. haha.

  • Kat

    Not a huge fan of this. I thought you guys were going to tie the strips onto the light strings! But maybe that’s a lot less guerilla/spontaneous weddingy?

  • monica

    Not liking it so much. I thought you were going to make those pom-pom looking things and string those together.

    Cutting the fabric with pinking shears might make the final product look more finished. I would also suggest grouping your fabrics together in the same color family for some uniformity.

  • youlovelucy

    I don’t know, I kind of dig it! The “poofier” garlands are nice too, but might have been a bit out of place and a bit too cutesy against the chain link fence.

    If you had some old sheets, you could rip/cut them down the same way and do streamers too (instead of tying them together) as your ceremony backdrop.

  •!/dmrkns Devereaux

    I wish these Guerilla Wedding posts were under the “Lazy Girl’s DIY” tag (or something similar). So far, they have all been decor ideas (this, flour hearts, paper-strip runners). I would love to have posts about actual guerilla weddings – either tips on how to pull them off, more wedding graduates that have had these impromptu/not-totally-sanctioned weddings, etc. I always get so excited when I see this heading, and then it always turns out to be quickie crafts – which is a bit of a let-down.

    • meg

      Well, that’s the series! It’s a How To craft series, and it’s in the same part of the site as Lazy Girl DIY (we just titled this series something different). We’ve also been running y’all’s Guerilla Weddings when we get them, but we can’t make those posts up!

      But yup! We might do some more site specific things in the future, but true story: creating that content is way more expensive (none of the How To content is free to create, for sure), so we’re working on it.

  • Ellie

    I’m not a fan of this personally, but I remembered seeing something similar done at ren-fest with ribbons where the ribbons were just tied to a string, and it occurred to me that you could do that with old rags/clothing as well – – might be something for people who are going for similar easiness but a different aesthetic?

  • Ambi

    I agree that it isn’t my personal aesthetic, BUT I love the general idea, and I see how it could totally ad some easy and inexpensive decor. I also think it is great to show us the basic idea (cut or tear rags into strips, tie together) and then let each person make changes to fit their own tastes. So, pinking shears, grouping by color, using shorter lengths of fabric or more uniform strips, using ribbons, etc. – those are all personal changes that each bride or groom can make on their own! So, for my own personal tastes, I’d probably use much shorter strips and maybe use only shades of cream, white, and ivory (maybe get some old sheets at Goodwill?) – but overall, I think the idea that “garlands can be super easy and fast to make and don’t have to cost anything” is an APW homerun. You know what else this post proves? When it comes to something like a garland, the more you pile on the better it looks!

    • meg

      Totally. I want to see this done all in cream and peach or something, but totally layered like crazy.

  • Emily Rae

    I like that the garland works with the larger aesthetic — as others have mentioned, this idea is REALLY adaptable. It does give my inspiration for my half-torn-apart screened porch — something too froofy would look weird against the exposed beams/holes in the floor “look” we’re rockin’ right now.

  • Amber, theAmberShow

    I see this as more of a picnic wedding thing the way we did I it. It’s still hanging in my backyard; I couldn’t quite bring myself to take it down.

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  • Jessica

    Love the idea. Even cutting them up into triangles for more traditional bunting and putting them on a cheap wire or fishing line (using mini binder clips?) would give them a different aesthetic. Can I ask where you got those lights?

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    I think this is great

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