DIY Cotton Stems

Hi there!

If you’ve spent any time on Instagram or Pinterest over the past year, you’ve probably seen these dreamy cotton stems all over the place. They are great because they can be used in any season and in many different ways. The only downfall? They can be extremely pricey! I’ve kept my eye out at local shops, online boutiques, and I’ve even checked Amazon hoping to score some of these rustic accents for a price that I was okay with… but alas they continued to evade me and my West Michigan wallet. So I got to thinking and decided to try to make my own using all-natural materials and to my surprise, I like them even better than the store-bought options!

DIY cotton stems - project completed for only $1!

Gather Supplies

After looking at cotton stems at the store and looking at plenty of pictures online, I figured this project could be done fairly easily and for an extremely low price tag. Cody and I headed to our backyard with some clippers and cut off several branches from a bush that we tore out a few weeks back. They had gorgeous bark and some dry leaves that I thought would add more texture and give them a more realistic look. Next, I grabbed a few pine cones that Cody and I took from our old apartment, which would be used for the cotton blossom. Finally, I raided my bathroom for standard cotton balls and we were ready for business.

Pine cones
Cotton balls
Hot glue gun
Cat assistant* optional

Cotton Stem Supplies: Branches, Pine cones,  Cotton balls, Hot glue gun.Cotton Stem Supplies: Branches, Pine cones,  Cotton balls, Hot glue gun - optional cat Cotton Stems - using natural pine cone scales and branches from my backyard.

Building Your Stems

To begin, take your pine cone and slowly detach each “scale” (yes, I looked up the term and these pieces are called scales… the more ya know!) starting from the top. I found that it was easiest to do this with a pine cone that was more open in nature and by wiggling them around a bit to loosen their grip. I then used scissors to separate the scale from the spine. For my project, I used two pine cones total. The rest of the process is fairly simple, trim the sticks to your desired length and remove any twigs that you don’t want and then you’re ready to begin adding the cotton.

DIY Cotton Stems - removing the scales from natural pine cone scales and branches from my backyard.DIY Cotton Stems - featuring branches from my backyard.sticks2

Attach the Cotton

I started this process by adding a dot of hot glue to the stick and holding the cotton ball in place for about 15 seconds until it was dry. Next, I added a dot of glue onto the inside of the pine cone scale and held it into place along the bottom of the cotton ball. I varied the amount of scales used per cotton ball from 2-3 each to make it less uniform and more natural. I worked my way around each cotton ball and held the scales in place until they felt secure. I did my best to make them appear sort of random by placing them on opposite sides of the stick to create a more natural and realistic look.

DIY Cotton Stems - attaching store-bought cotton balls to branches with hot glue.DIY Cotton Stems - attaching store-bought cotton balls to branches with hot glue.

Finished Cotton Stems

And that’s it – it took me about an hour to complete the project and it cost me less than a dollar! I completed the look by placing the cotton stems in a mason jar and arranging them at random. They are a bit more substantial than store bought varieties and are less fragile which is a great benefit. I love adding these natural elements in my home and I really love that they can be used year-round. Here’s a final look at the complete cotton stems – let me know what you think!

DIY cotton stems - project completed for only $1!stems-CU

Until next time!


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