It’s the beginning of December and for many western countries the shops have the Christmas decorations out, the background Carol music on and are cranking up their offerings of merchandise to reap the commercial benefits of the Christmas festive season.
I love the Christmas festivities too, but prefer to try and keep things low key and true to the origonal spirit of Christmas as much as possible by emphasising the value of gifts that are handmade with love, time and patience.
Tasks 11 and 12 on my “101 Tasks in 1001 Days” project http://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/about/101-things-in-1001-days/ are to make a handmade Christmas tree decoration for each of my two children, each year.
Many of my decorations in the past have been cross-stitched: http://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/stitching-ornament-heirlooms-for-kids/ but I’ve been branching out into felt ornaments in the last year and fancied making something a bit different than cross-stitch ones for a change.
Then I stumbled on a craft post on the internet that got me thinking… Jessica Okui at http://zakkalife.blogspot.com/2009/11/craft-project-felt-christmas-ornament.html made a beautiful Christmas decoration from felt, ones that echoes a design of paper or card decoration designs I have seen around for years.
I liked the idea of working it in felt, but there were a few points about Jessica’s version that I still felt I wanted to tweek for my version.
First I knew I wanted all the edges of my ornament to be stitched. Secondly, I knew I wanted to stitch the two pieces of felt next to each other that radiate directly from the top and bottom of the ornament instead of leaving them oen as they are in Jessica’s version.
Lastly, I wanted not just to stitch the sections together with thread but also to add beads. Shiny, sparkly beads, to twinkle in the light of tree lights.
So… here is a Step-by-Step tutorial of the Kiwidutch Modified Version of a Felt Christmas Ornament.
- 6 circles cut from felt (mine each measure 6-7 cm / 2 inches across).
- Beads of your choice
- Needle that will fit through your beads. (a sharp needle goes though the felt easier than a blunt one)
- Embroidery thread of the colour of your choice ( mine match either the bead or the felt or both)
- Thread in contrasting colour (for basting)
- Decorative cord or ribbon for hanging up your ornament (20-24 cm / 6-7 inches)
1) Cut six circles of felt fabric in the colour of your choice. I die-cut mine but tracing around a small jar lid would work just as well.
2) Place two of the circles over each other and with a contrasting basting thread, make a loose line across it vertically and horizontally, effectively making your circle into quarters. Then, still with your basting thread, divide each quarter in half again so that you finish with two circles of felt sewn together, and marked out in eighths.( This sounds more complicated when it is, the photograph below with the white circles and blue thread should make it clear).
3) At the top of one of the basting lines, and stitching through both layers of felt, attach a bead then blanket stitch the two edges together until you reach the next basting line, add another bead, blanket stitch to the next basting line and add the last bead. You will now have three beads attached with blanket stitch joining the sections between them.
4) Repeat step (3) only at the ends of a basting line with a bead on it.This will give you a circle with: bead-blanket stitch, bead-blanket stitch-bead, then a basting line with no stitching or bead at either end, and then bead-blanket stitch, bead-blanket stitch-bead again. (Again, it sounds complicated when I describe it, but the photo will show you how simple it is)
5) Repeat this process with the other two felt circle pairs. Once they are all completed, fold your decorative ribbon (for hanging it up) in half and secure it to one side of the middle layer, then line up the other two sets of felt on the outsides so that the beads match.
Hand-stitch from centre bead (top) to centre bead (bottom, through all six layers of felt. (Opps, I know the felt has changed colour, I forgot to photograph this step on the white one).
6) Starting at one of the beads that is not on the centre line, blanket stitch only one layer of the two along the unstitched edge until you reach half-way along the circle, take the closest piece of felt from the next felt circle pair and join them together with a bead. (look at the stitched and unstitched sections of the centre of the ornament in the next photograph to make this clear).
The easiest way to stitch this is to make a zig-zag pattern all around one side of the ornament, joining all the centres in the middle until you get back to your starting point and then to turn the ornament around and blanket stitch the remaining unstitched edges in the same manner.
Voila! a beautiful hand-stitched Felt Christmas Tree Ornament, made with love and that will make your tree sparkle for years (and even generations) to come.
The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that in the red ornament photo above, there are eight circles of felt (4 doubles together) and not three, as in the white. The red and yellow ornaments were experients where I used eight circles of felt (4 doubles together). Whilst I first thought that eight would be better than six, the finished product is I think actually too “squished” in appearance. If you pull one side to make it look right it immediately squishes up on the other side.
To the other extreme the even bigger white ornament was made with 24 circles: twelve “doubles”and I quickly saw that it looks very cramped indeed. I also used white beads on that one and they hardly show up or sparkle at all (at least in comparison to the dark glossy beads I used for the others).
This means that six circles of felt (3 doubles) appears in my opinion to work best and these are my new Christmas favourites!