Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Felt and Ribbon Garland

 This project took me a bit longer than I like my midweek projects to take, but I'm happy with the results.  I don't have a lot of Christmas decorations, so I decided it was time to make something for my home.   Something quick and easy that I could make without a pattern or a lot of effort.  A felt and ribbon garland:

 decorating my antique Victorian piano (it's not really worth that much, but it's pretty, don't you think?)

I started with three 9x12 pieces of felt and 2 yards of ribbon.   I used red, green, and white, because I do traditional colors with my decorations.  The fun part about making decorations yourself is that you can customize them to fit your home.

As always, I started with a sketch.  In this case the sketch also turned out to be my pattern. I went with a candy cane, a tree, and a present for my shapes.  You can do anything you like:  Santa heads, ornaments, snow flakes, bells.  Look around at the decorations you already have and incorporate those themes into your garland.

If you have a plotter cutter machine, like a Cricut or a Silhouette, this will be even easier for you.  Let the machine cut all your pieces and parts.   (If you do have one, I'm jealous.  Those machines are so handy for crafting.)

I sketched them out on my cutting mat so I could have the grid as a reference.  The present is 2x2" and the others are about 2x2.5".    After getting my shape patterns settled, I folded the felt in half and cut out the candy cane and tree each five times (so 10 of each) and the present 6 times (12 presents.)   Then you have to cut out the accents.  You'll notice I tried to do a bow thing on the present.  Yeah.  It was ugly so I got rid of it later.  For the presents, I just needed two narrow green strips per present.  Don't worry about making them the right length, at this point it's easiest to have them a little long.   For the tree I cut three white circles for each one.  And the candy canes got three stripes each.  Those are just strips I cut long on purpose.  

Next, I used fusible webbing to fuse each of the decorations in place.  This was the process that took the longest for me.  You need to trim the webbing down smaller than the decorative strip.   Follow the manufacturers directions to fuse it down, but keep in mind felt is pretty thick stuff.  You may need to turn your iron up and keep it on longer than the package recommends.  Experiment on a scrap to see what works for your stuff.   Also, don't forget the press cloth.  You need to sandwich the felt pieces between two pieces of fabric to protect your iron and ironing board.  I'm also using the ugliest towel in my linen cupboard as an extra precaution.  That fusible webbing loves to get stuck in your ironing board and then melt right onto your favorite top the next time you iron it.
So you've got everything fused down.  Now turn them over and trim off the long pieces using the backside as a guide for the cut.
See?  All neatly trimmed down and ready to place on the ribbon.
First you need to prep the ribbon.  Trim the ends and then melt them.   If you've never melted a ribbon end before, you've been missing out.  I've never found a better way to halt fraying.  I put too much time into this garland to have the ribbon go ugly on me.   Just hold the edges of the ribbon close, but not in, a candle flame.  The heat will melt the polyester ribbon, fusing the threads together so they don't fray out.  If you are using a cotton or silk ribbon, you'll have to use another method to fix the ends.  (I hope you are also using nice wool felt, because otherwise, save the nice ribbon for something else.)
Now it's time to place your felt pieces.   I put mine about three inches apart.  I allowed for a little bit of overlap and did 3" from the center of each shape.   I put mine pretty much centered on the ribbon.  They are kind of overbalancing as it hangs though, so you might want to place yours so the ribbon is nearer the top of your felt shapes. 
Once all the shapes are pinned on, sew around each one with a zig zag stitch, leaving a gap in one end for stuffing.  It's best to work on all the shapes of the same color at once so you aren't switching thread quite so much.

I found that cute little wooden stick in the package of stuffing the other day.  It's been very helpful in filling small shapes like these.  Using a stuffing stick, or a knitting needle, or a chop stick or other small instrument, lightly stuff each piece.
With the candy cane, you need to leave the top of the hook open so you can get all the way down both sides of the cane with the stuffing.
Once you've stuffed, sew the gap closed.  Finish the rest of the felt shapes,  and you're done. 
Isn't it cute?

1 comment: