DIY Ornament – Tinsel Bottle Brush Tree

tinsel-bottle-brush-treeBottle brush trees have been everywhere for the last few Christmases. They are charming little old fashioned decorations and they look amazing with a modern update of sparkles and cool new colors. They’re also ridiculously easy to make. And when you can make them yourself that means you can make them out of ANYTHING. Neon yarn, recycled plastic bags, strips of burlap, anything. I’m using the regular old-fashioned bottle brush trees in several ornaments on this tree, but more is more in my book, so I wanted to do a larger bottle brush tree and use it as a chance to bring in the other material I’m using a lot: tinsel.

 

step-1For this project you need a cork, floral wire, a star brad, and the material you’ll be making your tree out of. I used a tinsel garland I got at the thrift store.

 

step-2Cut your material into strips. You can add as many as you want to get the fullness you want, and if you’re using yarn you’ll have to add a bunch. The garland was doing most of the work in my case, so I cut 8 strips in different sizes. I wouldn’t go any wider than 5 or 6 inches because the garland gets too floppy that far away from the center support. You will be trimming later so measurements don’t need to be exact, you just want the smallest piece at the top.

 

step-3Bend your floral wire in half and make a loop by twisting the wire. This will be your ornament hanger, and a support for the star later.

 

step-4Lay your strips in between the two legs of wire. Scrunch them as necessary to get them all in.

 

step-5Twist the wire closed at the bottom of the tinsel, leaving yourself an inch or two to work with later.

 

step-6Grip the tree by both ends, one hand grasping the loop and the other hand grasping the tails.

 

step-7Twist. Start twisting your hands in opposite directions and keep twisting. The wire will begin to shorten and bring the tinsel up even tighter. That’s what you want. It will look a little wild in the middle of things, but what you’re looking for is for the tinsel to get compact against each other.

 

step-8When you finish twisting it will not look like a tree. There’s really no predicting where those strips of tinsel will end up. So when you have the tinsel as compact as you want, give it a haircut. Trim the tinsel into the shape you want.

 

step-9Stick the wires at the bottom of the tree into a cork.

 

step-10Flatten the arms of a star brad around the wire loop and use some hot glue to secure it.

 

tinsel-bottle-brushBear is big into his winter villages, so we have bottle brush trees in every room of this house. But, until now, not in tinsel. I love these little guys so much, now I’m thinking his little snow village needs some sparkle.

 

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DIY Christmas Ornament – Fancy Lady Doll

fancy-lady-ornamentThere’s a vintage furniture store nearby that specializes in Midcentury Modern. They make little room vignettes with all their furniture, so walking through the showroom feels like walking through a trendy home in 1963. One of the rooms they had set up was decorated for Christmas with an actual vintage aluminum tree and handcrafts from the era. I spent forever looking at that tree and snapping pictures, paying attention to the crafts that were popular at the time and what how they would have decorated. There will be quite a few ornament tutorials this month that started with that tree at the furniture store, but for today I’m focusing on this little doll. I saw so many versions of these little wood peg dolls! Carolers, elves, Santas, all kinds of permutations from these little wooden pegs turned into dolls. I wanted to include any craft that was so popular at the time, but I knew mine had to pay tribute to the glamorous ladies with their beehives and fur coats. A Betty Draper peg doll, if you will.

 

step-1For this project you need the wooden doll pieces, two pom poms, 2 2″ pieces of pipe cleaner, yarn for a belt, doll hair, and felt skirt and shirt.

 

step-2I started by painting little faces on my dolls and you can see that there was nothing involved about it. Two little boop boop eyes and a swipe for a mouth. The hair I painted will be covered with doll hair, I just wanted to add a little color underneath so the raw wood wouldn’t show through.

 

step-3Now our lady needs some clothes. The skirt is a circle skirt so you start by literally drawing a circle. Then draw another circle in the middle by tracing around the doll so you know how big her waist is. Wrap the skirt around the dolls waist and cut off any extra width if it overlaps. Use hot glue to attach the skirt in the front, back, and on the sides. For the top I started with a white rectangle and trimmed it so that it would fit around her at the top. I just tried it on, snipped off what seemed too big, and when I was satisfied, I hot glued her top on.

 

step-4 To complete her look she needs a belt at her waist. Tie a piece of yarn around her waist and tie a bow at the back. Hot glue the pipecleaners to her shoulders, and then the pom poms on top of the pipe cleaners. If her arms are too long you can just snip them until you’re satisfied with the size.

 

step-5Add another loop of yarn to be the ornament hanger by gluing it under the bow and up behind the head. If you don’t glue it to her head she’ll hang face down once you put her on the tree, so make sure you get that loop to stay up nice and high.

 

step-7 My glamorous 60’s lady needed to have a big glamorous hairstyle, so I took curls of doll hair and hot glued it all around her head. The hot glue will seep up through those doll hairs, so watch your fingers carefully. Then I took more curls and hot glued them on top, piling them on to make a beehive.

 

fancy-lady I think she’s so sweet. She looks like she’s going to a fancy Christmas party where she’ll chose from a selection of nogs and gather around a piano for a singalong.

 

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DIY Christmas Ornament – Embroidered Postcard Ornament

postcard-embroidery-ornamentAren’t vintage illustrations just the most gorgeous thing? I fell down a real Pinterest hole when I was looking for 60’s artwork. The illustrations used in ads back then are astonishing. I wanted that artwork reflected on the tree, and not in my own sorry imitation. I wanted to use that artwork, but juzh it up a little bit. A little embroidery to bring the image into 3D is really all it took.
step-1I got my postcards at zazzle.com, but you can find vintage postcards easily, or have any other image you want printed. Use a needle to poke holes around everything you want to stitch. The paper is so thick that trying to go through it with your threaded needle is tough, and you won’t be able to see where your needle is coming from the back, so you need to pre-drill your stitch lines. I wanted to stitch around all the red, green, and around the reindeer.
step-2 Stitch your lines with crewel embroidery thread. I just used a backstitch because it’s my favorite outlining stitch.
step-3 In the berries I wanted to use French knots, so I pierced two holes in each of them.
step-4Bring your needle up through one of those holes. Point your needle up so the eye is pointing toward the postcard and wrap the thread around three or four times. The more you loops you do, the bigger your knot will be.
step-5 Pull the needle down through the other hole in the berry, holding the loops down with your thumb.
step-6Here I’ve finished all the embroidery including the French knots. You could get really fancy if you wanted to, with loads of special stitches, but I like how simple the outlining is around this illustration.
step-7Cut two pieces of fabric 1″ larger on each side from your artwork. I used a polar fleece, but any fabric that doesn’t frame will work. I like the polar fleece for how it gives the ornament some thickness. You’ll also need a ribbon for an ornament hanger.
step-8 Sandwich the ornament thread in between the layers of fabric and center the artwork on top of the fabric sandwich. Sew all around all four sides, sewing through the paper postcard at the same time. Make sure both ends of the ornament ribbon are secure in the seam.
postcard-ornamentThis is my very favorite ornament on this tree. The illustration is so sweet and the stitching and fabric turn it into an actual ornament and not just a postcard. That Santa face is just so dang charming, all it ever needed was a frame.

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DIY Gift Box Ornament

gift-box-ornamentIf this is the tree that says Home for the Holidays, then it absolutely had to include some presents. It feels a little bit like a cheat, these present ornaments are so easy. But like so many of my favorite ornaments through the years, they manage to do a lot of heavy lifting. Since most ornaments are round balls, it mixes things up by changing the shape, taking up a bunch of space, and providing a big chunk of color. And since you can put any kind of paper on it, you can use this ornament to create fantastically ornate color palettes. If you like to have a tree that matches your living room, you could use this ornament to make that happen whether your living room is puce or chartreuse.

 

step-1 You can wrap up anything you want, you just need to make it lightweight enough to not drag down the tree. I had these box lids left over from the Santa Buckets I made last year, so I glued them together to make my box. Styrofoam cubes work great, or upholstery foam, or whatever cardboard boxes you can get your hands on.

 

step-2 Cut a piece of paper big enough to wrap your box in. Wrap the paper around the box and pinch each fold to crease it. I then take the paper off the box and give those folds another good press with my fingers to really crisp up all those corners. To make it extra neat, I folded one end under just about 1/4″.

 

step-3 Wrap the paper back around the box and glue in place. I used hot glue for this project because it was a whole lot faster than liquid glue, and because tape doesn’t really hold up well over the years.

 

step-4Press the sides in and let the other sides fold into points. Since this is an ornament and not a present that only has to look nice enough to be torn open, I took my time to get those points neat, and to fold any rogue pieces so they were hidden by the pretty points.

 

step-5The ribbon here is two parts. One piece of ribbon that wraps the package and ties in a bow, and the other piece of ribbon serves as the ornament hanger. Run the hanger ribbon underneath both layers of package ribbon before tying it in a knot.

 

gift-boxI don’t decorate with presents very often. I know some people who wrap empty shoe boxes and put them under the tree all month long. It looks beautiful, but the reason I got into decorating so big was because I didn’t want to encourage the piles of presents everywhere. With 11 trees the whole house is a party without any extravagant overspending. But if I’m thinking about Home for the Holidays and family traditions, I have to include the exchanging of presents. I’m just going to have to pretend these little packages are filled with practical gifts like winter clothes and books.

 

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Ribbon Chain Garland

ribbon-chain-garlandYesterday we launched into my Vintage Home for the Holidays tree, and even though this tree already has a garland, I’m going to go *wild* and add another one. (I’m such a daredevil! :eyeroll:) The tinsel on a garland was practical, this garland is because if I’m going traditional, a paper chain is as traditional as it gets. The only thing more traditional is a popcorn and cranberry garland, but I already did one of those. In all that googling I was doing trying to find pictures of vintage trees, the only thing I saw as often as tinsel was paper chain garlands. Unfortunately, paper chains don’t exactly pack well. They were never supposed to last from season to season, but if I’m going to use one, with 11 trees in this place now, it better. So, like the tinsel, I’m going to modernize this old-fashioned craft and use wired ribbon and a sewing machine to make these last for ages.

The secret to making these look fantastic is how you sew the seam. Since every side is visible, you can’t just have seams hanging out on the wrong side. There really isn’t a wrong side. Which calls for a special sewing technique to wrap all those raw edges up in a neat little package. You need a French Seam.

A french seam is the same as the seam you have on your jeans. Since that seam is enforced in two spots it’s extra strong, which is why it’s good for jeans. For us it’s more about how neat and tidy it makes things, but if you’re going for longevity, that strength won’t hurt.

 

step-1I cut my ribbon 10″ long. The size really doesn’t need to be terribly exact, just big enough to have two inches for the seam with enough left over to make a nice big link.

 

step-2Fold the ribbon wrong sides together, and sew leaving a 1 inch seam allowance.

 

step-3Fold the ends over to meet the seam line…

 

step-4 Then fold one more time so all the raw edges are encased in a nice neat little roll.

 

step-5 Sew another seam as close to the edge of that little roll as you can steer. Make sure that you don’t sew your ribbon link closed. You just want to sew through one layer of the ribbon. Tug the back layer out of the way as you sew.

step-6When you’ve got two links sewn, thread them onto another ribbon piece so that the seamlines will be on the inside when you fold it closed.

 

step-7Fold the ribbon in half and make another French seam just as before, remembering to not let any of the other ribbons get caught in your seams.

 

step-8Add another ribbon piece to one of the end links and repeat this process until your garland is as long as you want it to be.

 

ribbon-chain As soon as I saw this ribbon I knew I had to use it on this tree somehow. It makes me think of a wool car blanket. Something you’d keep in the car for picnics, or long road trips. It was this ribbon that made me know this was going to be a Home for the Holidays tree. I can’t help but see that ribbon and imagine parents tucking their children in to the station wagon’s backseat, hoping they’ll stay asleep until they wake up at Grandma’s House just in time for Christmas.

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Make a Tinsel Tassel Garland

tinsel-tassel-garlandLast year my Christmas goals went bust. (Abdominal surgery will do that to even the best of us.) But it may have been a blessing in disguise. Last year I had all these ideas for ornaments, but they weren’t really fitting together in one perfect themed tree. Now that I’ve had some time to ponder everything I’m taking what I started last year, I’m switching everything around, repurposing a few things, adding a whole lot more, and I’m launching into this Christmas raring to go with projects for two trees! That’s right. Two new Christmas trees with all the fixings. I’ve got garlands and ornaments spilling out of me in every direction. Instead of the mish mash tree I was headed for last year, I’ve got two gorgeous vintage 60’s inspired trees. One will be as traditional as can be, and the other will embrace all the mod kitch I can get my hands on. One will be something my parents may have grown up with, the other will be something at home in the offices of Sterling Draper Cooper Price. First up: Vintage Home for the Holidays. And as always, the first thing that goes on any tree I make is the garland.

Since I had a whole year to dwell on the mistakes I made with the start of this tree, I did a lot of research. I wore out my google fingers searching for images on how a home Christmas tree would have been decorated in the early sixties and I found some vintage crafts, lots of big lights, and tinsel. SO MUCH TINSEL. Postwar everything was about aluminum and if you didn’t have an actual aluminum tree, then you took a fresh tree and you smothered it in tinsel. I mean just wallpapered it with the stuff.

These days you can still find tinsel online easily enough, but it’s not exactly in vogue. It makes a huge mess, you’d never get it off to put it away, and if you have pets? The nightmare would never end. But it does look so beautiful on the tree! When it catches the light and just shimmers and drips? It’s magical. So I was determined to take tinsel out of the dustbin of design past and find a way to use it that solved the problems it brings.

 

step-1I’ll tell you right up front that the tinsel can be difficult to manage. Lots of little strands that slip and slide against each other when they’re not tangling up together. So you’re going to have to take a couple deep breaths until you get the hang of this. But you will get the hang of this and the results will be worth it!

You need a base that you’ll be tying the tinsel onto for your garland. Something thick enough to be strong and avoid snapping or tangling, but not so thick that its bulk gets in the way of admiring the tinsel. I go to my old standby of cotton crochet thread. I tied a knot in the end just to be extra sure my tassels wouldn’t slide off the end, but it’s probably unnecessary.

Now it’s time to break out the tinsel. I bought mine online and it came in 18″ lengths (or about that. I don’t remember exactly. You know how I am with measurements.) I cut the length in half, and sectioned out enough strands that when I folded it in half again, the tassel was as full as I wanted it to be. You can make the tassels as full or as thin as you want, it’s all just personal taste, you just want to make the size consistent, whatever you choose.

 

step-2The knot will be tying is called a whole bunch of different things. A cow hitch or a larks head knot seem to be the most common but it’s extremely simple. The only hard thing about this project is getting the tinsel to be still. So to that end I’m going to get specific about how to hold it. Comb your tinsel as neat as you can and wrap it around your first and second fingers. Use your thumb and pinky to pinch the tassel together. Do your best to match the ends up so both sides are the same length, but don’t make yourself crazy over it. You can always just give it a trim up later.

 

step-3Take the thread or rope you’re using as the base of your garland and lay it across your hand below the loop you’ve made. Use your middle and ring fingers to pinch it and hold it in place.

 

step-4Lift the tail up over the garland base and grab it with your first and middle fingers. Slide the loop over the tail and off your fingers. You’re just pulling that tail through the loop you’ve made, wrapping it around the garland base in the process.

 

step-5Pull the tail until the loop becomes tight around the garland base.

 

step-6Depending on how you happen to pull, the top of the knot can get messy because the tinsel is unruly. Some of these tassels I went through every strand and pulled until I found the one that was out of place, some I got tired of doing that with and left messy, and others, after I practiced for a while, I got right on the first try.

 

step-7Since the tinsel is so slick, there’s no way you’ll be able to make your knot tight enough that it won’t slide back and forth on your base. So I added a dollop of hot glue to the top, making sure the glue touched both the base and the tinsel, to keep everything where I put it.

 

tinsel-garlandOnce you see this on the tree, any frustration you may have felt from the unruly tinsel will be forgotten. It is so beautiful shimmering during the day, and straight up magical during the night, that I can understand why all those trees I googled were so covered with the stuff. It almost doesn’t need ornaments! Almost. But even tinsel can’t stop me! I have a lot more up my sleeve for this tree.

 

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Make a Pipecleaner Spiderweb

pipecleaner-spiderweb

We’re only a few days away from Halloween, and that means that kids are excited, parents are frantically trying to get everything ready, nobody has time for a big complicated craft project, and kids have hands that need to be kept busy. So I have the perfect solution for you. These spiderwebs only take minutes to make, are easy enough for kids to make, and are adorable enough to display every year. In fact, you might be tempted to put your kids to work cranking these out for every corner of your house.

 

step-1Hold 8 pipecleaners tightly together in a bunch and twist their ends together. Fold that twisted end down on itself to create a tight little bundle.

 

step-2Those 8 pipecleaners become the “spokes” for your web, so pull them apart and arrange them into the web shape. The little twisted up bundle you made should be the back of the web.

 

step-3

Twist another pipecleaner around one of the legs and bend into a gentle arc to mimic the way the silk of a spider web hangs. Twist it to the next leg, being careful not to pull the legs too close together or out of shape.

 

step-4Keep twisting around each leg, creating that little arc that spans between two legs. It looks best if you vary the shapes of the arcs. Attach some a little higher on the leg, give another a little more sag, and when you finish one pipecleaner, twist another one in the same place and keep going.

 

step-5You’ll create three rounds of those arcs. As you get to the top layers your pipecleaner won’t make it to the next leg, so just snip it off with wire cutters or scissors and save all those little pieces to make up the spider.

 

step-6Gather up all those little bits you cut off as you were making the web and pull out four that are roughly 4 inches long for the legs, and another piece roughly three inches long that will tie the head and the body together. Take a bunch of the rest and squish them together in a tight little ball for the head. Use whatever’s left, plus a couple more pipecleaners if necessary, and wind them up together to create the body. Insert the leg pieces through the body, winding them around and through the body to get them secure. It works best if a couple of the legs are even longer than the others so they can hold the spider to the web later. Use the small piece we set aside and wind it through the top of the body and through the head, twisting it together to tie the two pieces securely together.

 

step-7Use the neck piece and a couple of the legs to twist around the web and get the spider to stick onto his home.

 

spiderwebThis project is simple enough that kids can help you make it, but they also actually look good. I have these scattered all over the house, anywhere my little Halloween decorations need a little something special to finish the look. They are surprisingly effective decor for being made out of pipecleaners.

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Make an Adorable Mummy Doll

mummy-dollThe mummy is my favorite of your classic movie monsters, because it isn’t plastered all over the place like you Frank’s and Drac’s. I love the underdog. But he’s also the one most frequently rendered in a way that grosses me out. My Halloween taste has a real sweet spot between too cute to live and too gross to die. So I had to make my own version of a mummy, who was exactly cute enough, and wouldn’t gross anyone anywhere.

 

step-1For the shape of the body, you just need two pieces of a gingerbread man. You can draw him or use an image from the internet, but I got my shape by folding the fabric in half and then just drawing one side of him, to make a perfectly symmetrical little man. Whatever method you choose, just cut two pieces. The fabric you use can be just about any kind at all, just in a color that will work for a mummy. I had this fabric leftover from my bedroom makeover, and I thought it looked sufficiently corpse-like.

 

step-2Sew the two pieces together leaving a 1/2″ seam allowance. Leave a portion of the outline open so you can turn it inside out and stuff it.

 

step-3To make sure the opening is strong enough to stand up to turning inside out and stuffing, it helps to reinforce each side with a few back and forth stitches.

 

step-4Turn your little man right side out and stuff him. I like to stuff on the full side, but I made sure to keep the part where his legs turn into hips a little on the soft side. That way I can sit him easily in my Halloween displays.

 

step-5You’ll need a whole lot of bandages to properly dress this dude. Tear strips out of a gauzy material by ripping it with the grain of the fabric.

 

step-6Sew one end of your strip onto the doll with a little running stitch and then keep wrapping, covering up as much of the doll as you want to. I ended up covering more than I would have liked, but I got very picky about getting the head covered. Same with the crotch and butt. I couldn’t stand to let those hang out. Which means my mummy ended up fully dressed. I probably didn’t need to overthink it so much.

 

step-7As you go around the head it can be tricky to get things to lay right. Just stitch down any edges that try and pop up, and stitch the ends of you wraps in place too.

 

step-8A mummy needs a face, and you can do that in any number of ways. I stitched a couple of french knots and a little mouth, but you could use markers to draw one on or even just glue googly eyes in place.

 

mummy-doll-in-actionI always love a little handsewing project and this is a great one. Especially for kids or anyone just learning how to sew. Any mistakes you make just become part of the look, since mummies are supposed to look decrepit and threadworn. They’re not mistakes, they are style choices!

 

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Make a Funny Halloween Sign

tombstone-plaqueEvery time I look at this sign I giggle. I am a hard core lover of puns and wordplay and this sign delights me to no end. But I have to admit, I got the initial idea from another sign I saw in a home decor store. It was one of those stores where everything is made to look a little distressed, edges are sanded, brown paint sponged on the outside of things to make them look older, birdcages everywhere, and lots of those little balls covered in moss or beans. I’m not knocking it, I was shopping there after all, I’m painting a picture. There are a lot of stores like that out there. And if you’ve ever been in a store like that you might have had the same experience I did. I saw a wood block. Just a block of wood. Painted black with the edges sanded, and a version of this phrase that wasn’t as funny painted on it. I didn’t know what I was more disappointed by, that the decoration was so uninspired, or that they hadn’t workshopped the saying so that they didn’t step on their joke. I had to solve both of those problems and make myself something adorable in the process.

 

step-1I found this tombstone shaped sign at my craft store in the seasonal section with all the raw wood shapes. If your’s doesn’t carry this exact item, it’s a simple shape to cut out of wood and the border is totally unnecessary. You could make this with any plaque you like, but I love how the tombstone shape adds to the humor. I used black spray paint as a first coat but acrylic paint will work just the same. The center will stay black but the back and edges I wanted to look more like stone.

 

step-2To make that happen, sponge some gray acrylic paint on top of the black. I like to use a few different colors of gray to give it some depth and really good mottling.

 

step-3To get a really good stone look, finish by flecking some white paint on top by running your thumb over paint covered toothbrush bristles, or using a paintbrush and flicking your wrist quickly to make the droplets fly. I wouldn’t recommend doing this next to anything that can’t afford to get painted, though.

 

step-4With your paint job done it’s time to add the letters. This can be as simple as using some vinyl letters, or stickers, or handpainting it. There are a million ways these days to get some letters on your plaque. I used my computer to find the fonts that I liked together and to get the sizing right, and then cut them out of vinyl.

 

step-5Arrange your words however you decide to do it, and stick them in place. I found that the vinyl lettering was having a hard time sticking to the glossy finish of the spray paint I used, so I used glue to get them stuck instead of just the vinyl itself.

 

step-6You know me, I can’t ever miss a chance for glitter. I brushed some glue on the front of the vinyl letters while I had it out, and sprinkled glitter over the top. Shake off the excess and then repeat until you get all your words covered. I even added an orange border by running a line of glue where the border meets the center of the sign and then sprinkling orange glitter on top.

 

halloween-plaqueEven when it’s not Halloween I call my guys my handsome devils, and I take great pride in following in the witchy footsteps of so many women who wouldn’t be controlled, so this sign just could not be more appropriate for us. Maybe instead of putting it away at the end of the season I’ll hang it in my bedroom.

 

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Halloween Countdown Calendar – in FELT!

felt-countdown-calendarI’m beginning to realize that looking forward to great things is a big part of my coping strategy. I am obsessed with advent calendars, countdown calendars, paper chains, and all manner of beautiful craft projects that help me mark time until something fun happens. I’ve done it since I was a kid and I’m only picking up steam. But my very favorite countdowns are hard to find. I love the ones that aren’t just a door to open with candy inside, or just a number to display, I love the ones that create a decoration. The ones with little ornaments behind the doors, or in the pockets, something that gets fuller and fancier the closer you get to the fun. And since they’re so hard to find, I had to make one myself. I love those felt boards you use as a kid, and felt is so much fun to hand stitch, I knew there was only one way for me to go.

 

step-1For the backing and the bottom I used a piece of orange flannel that measured 22″ wide by 37″ long. I wanted my backing to match my front piece, so I just had it wrap around to the front. But you could use any fabric you want for the backing piece, and it doesn’t have to be flannel or felt. You could even make your bottom front piece different than your backing piece. I just did it this way because I loved this fabric and got a great deal on it. The blue top part does need to be felt because that’s where everything will be sticking. That’s the “felt board” part of this calendar. Mine measures 22″ wide and 13″ tall. Sew the top piece to the front bottom piece, right sides together, and give it a gentle press, then lay it out lining up with the back piece.

 

step-2You’ll need a whole bunch of numbers and the squares that will become pockets. I used an orange felt so that I could hand stitch the felt numbers on top and those beautiful fibers would just nestle up together and look gorgeous. You need 30 pockets cut to 2 1/2″ x 1 3/4″. To cut the numbers I used a font I liked as a template and cut out carefully. Stitch all those numbers on to the pockets until you have them all numbered.

 

step-3In this picture I still had a lot of hand stitching to do, but I wanted to show you how they would fit on the bottom piece once they were all laid out. Six across and five down.

 

step-4Once all my pockets were numbered I was ready to sew them in place. I really wanted to make my pockets neat and straight, so I used a ruler and a chalk wheel to draw a grid. I laid out my pockets so that they were 5/8″ apart in the vertical columns, and 3/4″ apart in the horizontal rows, and drew those chalk grid lines to those measurements. That way I could pin the pockets in place without fear of them shifting around on me. I just kept them lined up to the chalk line as I sewed. This method also let me sew the pockets on all at once. I could chain stitch down each row, pausing my stitching in the gaps between, but then continuing down to the next pocket until I had one side of the whole row sewn. It was so much easier to work a whole column, then a whole row, then a whole column, etc, at a time then trying to sew each precious pocket down all at once.  Remember to reinforce your pockets at the opening by doing a couple stitches, then a couple in reverse, and then finishing that side. These will be tugged on lots by little hands, so they need some help to not pop off.

 

step-5Now we need to decorate our felt board. As always I turned to a google image search and found myself a witches cauldron, but I thought it looked too much like a pot of gold. So I freehanded some bubbling potion and some pumpkins to fit the theme. The faces are just drawn on with sharpie. I cut out some more letters too and hand stitched all of this in place to take full advantage of how great felt is.

 

step-6I added a layer of batting – actually an extra piece of extra thick felt in this case – between the layers and added a binding to finish all those edges. If you need a little binding instruction, you can find that here.

 

step-7To hang it, just sew on a couple of rings. I had these in my beading pile, but you can find some in the notions aisle of your fabric store too.

 

step-8We’re not finished until we have all those little goodies to fill the pockets, and eventually our witches cauldron as the month wears on. I cut a bunch of candy shapes out of different colors of felt, jellybeans and gumdrops, squares with pinked edges for candy bars, round pieces with triangles on the side for wrapped candies, and cut two pieces for each candy. On one of the pieces I sewed on a teeny tiny piece of velcro – the hook side only – sewed three edges together, stuffed with a teeny tiny bit of stuffing, and sewed the last side closed.

 

step-930 pieces of candy takes a while to sew, but I think it’s worth it. I love how it looks with all those candies peeking out of the pockets…

 

step-10And I’ll love it even more as all those candies fill up the cauldron and show how close we are to the big day. Atti is so excited for Halloween this year, and this countdown calendar is a great way for him to celebrate that excitement every day. Even if he has a mom too strict to ever let him eat 30 pieces of candy.

 

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