Crafts

Cloth Napkins with Mitered Corners

If you've been following me on Instagram (suzanne_zingg) then you know I'm into doing tablescapes and table top decor. I love pretty dishes with coordinating table linen but because I sometimes have trouble finding just the perfect cloth napkins, I decided to try making them. My nicer commercially made cloth napkins have mitered corners so I knew those were the ones I wanted to make. 

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I'm going to attempt to share the directions for making these with you here. Writing directions is not my favorite thing to do so if you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Purchasing your fabric:

My napkins finished at 20" square. You can make any size but I personally like a larger napkin. You will want to determine the finished size before you purchase your fabric. I got four 20" square napkins from a yard and a third of fabric.

A note about the fabric:

I look for cotton, linen or a cotton blend when selecting fabric. Remember that these need to be absorbent if you actually plan to use them as napkins and don't use them strictly as decoration. Although I did not prewash my fabric here, you may want too. It's that old prewash debate. You, just do you.😂 K?

Cutting your fabric:

Cut each fabric square 3" larger than your desired finished size (you will have a 1 1/2" hem around all four sides). Regardless of your desired finished size, you will add 3" for the hem.

I am illustrating these directions with paper as well as cloth in hopes that you can see what I'm trying to show a bit better. 

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Take your square of fabric to the ironing board and press a 1/2" fold around all four sides. I do not mark this fold but do use a seam gauge to check the size of my fold.

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Now fold and press it again on all four sides, this time turning it a full 1". 

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At this point you will not see any raw edges but there will be bulky ugly corners. We're going to fix that now.

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*that should read, "Draw line from each MARK*

Unfold that last 1" fold and measuring up from the point and make a mark 2" from the point - one to the left of the point and one to the right. Then draw a line connecting the two marks as shown.

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Please ignore my need for a manicure.😃

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With right sides together, fold fabric as shown, lining up the marked line and pin. Sew on the drawn line.

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Trim the point off 1/4" beyond the stitched line.

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Repeat on all four corners.

Turn right side out using a point turner or chopstick to gently poke out the points.

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Press well then simply stitch the folded edge down all the way around close to the inner fold as shown.

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That's it, a finished napkin with beautifully mitered corners and no unsightly bulky unfinished corners.

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Here are some helpful hints, not necessary but more advanced sewists might find them helpful:

1. I use a Microtex sharp needle in my machine for a prettier straight stitch. Select needle size according to weight of fabric.

2. Use a straight stitch plate and a top stitch foot for best results.

3. Match thread (in bobbin and on top) to fabric as closely as possible.

4. Give your napkins a light spray starch for a professional finish.

The above hints are just that, things that work best for me but are not at all necessary. If you don't have those things please don't let them keep you from trying these napkins. 

Happy Sewing!

Encourage one another,

Suzanne

 


Woodlands Camping Party

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Several friends and I got together recently to do a dollar store challenge. The assignment was to come up with a DIY project or decor look using primarily items found at a dollar store, the Target Dollar Spot or Goodwill.

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The inspiration for my Woodlands Camping Party started at Target in the Dollar Spot with this adorable backpack and canteen. I picked up the tin mugs while I was there on the chance that I could do something with them. Later that same week I found these fabulous tin plates from Goodwill for a dollar each. My idea was born.  I simply layered them with placemats and tree slice chargers that I already had. I clipped some greens from my yard and finished the look with some of my Christmas pine trees and moss for a center piece.

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My napkins are Dollar Tree dish cloths 2/$1 tied with Dollar Tree rope for napkin rings.

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The campfire is just three 6" squares of orange and yellow tissue paper. I layered them, then scrunched and gathered them around a small battery votive (all from Dollar Tree). Then I nestled the wrapped candle in a bed of rocks from my yard and added some twigs. It even flickers!

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I'm excited to make a life size campfire with a large battery candle and big sheets of tissue. Wouldn't that be cute at Christmas surrounded by flocked trees and buffalo plaid?

Of course I served S'mores.

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I hope this post has inspired you. Parties don't have to be expensive to be fun and sometimes a party for no reason other than celebrating the everyday is the best reason of all.

Encourage one another,

Suzanne

 


Tutorial Tuesday #14 - Paper Doily Banners

I guess you could say that these colorful paper doilies have kind of become my signature look over the years. 

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They all started about eight years ago when I whipped up about 400 of them to hang in my store. We got so many complements on them and loved them so much that they became a permanent fixture at Strawberry Patches.

How happy are these?

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I love how you can coordinate your colors and themes to your room or party by the scrapbook paper or fabric you select.

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Here's how I made them:

Start with a large paper doily (or 400🤣) and separate into individual sheets. You can purchase paper doilies at craft stores, party stores or on Amazon.

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You will want to use a large doily because you will be folding it either in half or as in the case of the top photo, over by a third.

You will also need an assortment of fabrics, scrapbook paper or wrapping paper large enough to cover the solid center portion of the doily.

In addition you will need a glue stick, scissors, and twine. I had the cute tassel trim from Hobby Lobby and glued one on the point of each doily but this is completely optional.

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Using the solid center portion of one doily as a pattern, cut the shape from your paper or fabric. You will want to cover that solid area of the doily (see below).

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Using a glue stick, attach the paper or fabric to the doily, fold and wrap over the twine. Add a bit of glue to secure. That's it! You can space them as close together as you like and if you fold them in half they are double sided - looking the same on the front and back. I love the festive look they add to a space.

Let me know if you try these, I'd love to see photos!

Encourage one another,

Suzanne

 


Tutorial Tuesday #13 - Ornament Wreaths


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Today I wanted to share with you some ideas for making wreaths using glass ornaments. This is such a fun project and a great way to use ornaments found on clearance, at thrift stores and at yard and rummage sales. I tend to collect ornaments as I find them throughout the year then add just a few key ornaments that completes the story I'm trying to tell.

Supplies: You'll need lots of round glass ornaments in various sizes. It's best to keep with just a few colors then add a couple of interesting ornaments to help with your theme. You'll need a glue gun with lots of glue sticks, a Styrofoam ring in any size and some wire or ribbon to make a hanger for the back. Remember that your wreath will end up bigger than the Styrofoam because of the ornaments that extend beyond the edges of the wreath.

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To Get Started: Lay out your ornaments to get an idea of placement and colors. I start by gluing ornaments around the outside of the Styrofoam ring and some smaller ones toward the inside. Once I have a general idea of placement I remove the metal caps from the tops of the ornaments and apply hot glue to the part of the glass ornament where the metal cap was removed. While the glue is hot, carefully press it into the Styrofoam, holding it for a few seconds until it begins to cool and set. The heat from the glue should melt a hole into the ring. You may need to poke a small hole into the Styrofoam first if your Styrofoam isn't melting. This will vary depending on the type of ring you are using. Continue layering ornaments, filling in gaps and placing key ornaments around the top of the wreath. You will notice on my wreaths that the part of the ornament where I removed the metal cap doesn't show. Only the decorative novelty ornaments have their caps left on and those are mostly placed on the tops of the wreaths. 

Where to Shop for Novelty Ornaments: I've found that Micheal's has the best selection of novelty ornaments and you can pick them up just before and after Christmas for 50%-70% off or at a discount anytime with their coupon. World Market and Hobby Lobby are also good places to look as well as Home Goods during certain holidays. Hobby Lobby has Christmas out about seven or eight months out of the year and they also have a good selection of plain ornaments in bulk by color. 

On the Valentine wreath below I knew I wanted reds, pinks and whites with just a touch of black. The red, pink and white ornaments were purchased after Christmas on clearance and the blacks were on super sale after Halloween. I just added a couple of inexpensive Hobby Lobby heart ornaments and the champagne and cake ornaments from Michael's added a romantic feel.

This wreath started with a glittery heart shaped wreath purchased at Hobby Lobby instead of a circle. You can see a bit of the red heart showing in the photo below.

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I was going for a French patisserie look with this next one. I was lucky to find a croissant, Eiffel Tower, macaroon and other bakery related ornaments on clearance at Michael's just before Christmas.

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On each of your wreaths you'll want to keep the colors somewhat related. On this one I knew I wanted soft muted tones in blush and soft whites and creams. I felt fortunate to find french themed ornaments in the colors I wanted. Because the Eiffel Tower and large cake had a bit of gold on them I worked some gold throughout the entire wreath. You just need to be a bit flexible with the final color scheme since your selection of novelty ornaments will probably be limited.  Although the large cake ornament was probably intended as a wedding cake I felt like it worked here. The same for the smaller birthday cake. You may need to think slightly outside the box when selecting ornaments. 

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I thought it would be fun to insert some floral moss for an added touch of spring in this Easter wreath.

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Again the ornaments were all purchased at a discount except for the three bunnies and carrot. By selecting pastel colors these Christmas ornaments suddenly took on a very springy look.

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Notice I pulled colors from the bunny into the round ornaments that I selected. The carrot was kind of an odd ball but I thought the bunny needed a carrot. 😉

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I ended up wiring a green wispy wreath behind this wreath for an even bigger, bolder look.

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This Halloween wreath is slightly smaller than the wreaths above. I already had many of the tiny ornaments for this one and I wrapped the Styrofoam wreath with a vintage tinsel garland before gluing on the ornaments. You can see the garland peaking out through the spaces between the ornaments and I like the texture and sparkle that it adds. You could do this same wrapping technique for any of these wreaths.

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Well, as you can see, you can make these wreaths for any holiday or occasion. I think they would be fun in school or team colors, for the front door for a bridal or baby shower, for the Fourth of July and of course for Christmas or New Years. The only limitation is your imagination and your luck in finding the perfect ornaments. 

Happy hunting! 

Encourage one another,

Suzanne

 

 

 


Tutorial Tuesday #13 - Taffy Sundaes

These sundaes are so much fun to make and will last for years. I think they add a real fun factor to almost any tabletop decor. 

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Although I’m showing red, pink and white sundaes here for Valentines Day you can make them in any color combination, for any season.  

I buy my salt water taffy from Oriental Trading Company and love that you can purchase big bags by color. Although you probably won’t be eating the taffy (unless you have left overs or have a sweet tooth like me) know that they are soft and fresh and are really good. I appreciate that they arrive within a few days of ordering.

The first thing you’ll need to do is gather your containers. I’ve purchased sundae glasses at thrift stores and rummage sales. You can usually find them during the summer months at Walmart and dollar stores. Don’t limit yourselves to traditional old fashioned sundae glasses though. Here are some other ideas. 

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After selecting your container, measure the width of the opening and buy Styrofoam balls that size. For the clear glass dishes I wanted to fill the bottoms with coordinated candies and not see the bottom of the Styrofoam through the glass so I cut the balls in half with a serrated knife.  On the black and white dishes I left the Styrofoam balls whole which helped eliminate the need to glue onto the more expensive dish.

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You may need to sculpt the Styrofoam slightly so it fits securely into the top of your container.

Fill the clear glass containers with candies of your choice.

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Then you simply start hot gluing the taffy onto the Styrofoam, one at a time, beginning where the styrofoam meets the glass, working your way to the top of the Styrofoam ball. I glued white taffy around the top to look like whip cream. The cherry is a gum ball. I added fun straws (cut to size) for a pop of contrasting color. 

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That’s it. How easy!

Encourage one another,

Suzanne

 


Tutorial Tuesday #12 - Frosted Felt Conversation Heart Cookies

I love making frosted sugar cookies for Valentines Day, but after all the sugar overload from the holidays I really didn't want the temptation of more sweets around. So this year I decided to make my cookies from wool felt. 

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(My darling chippy metal cake stand was purchased here.)

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You can make these fun cookies from wool, felt or my favorite, wool felt. You'll just need a fabric that doesn't fray since all the raw edges are left exposed.

I know many of you will have what you need to make this project but for those who may need some supplies, here's where I buy my wool felt. Many of you know Barri from Bareroots and her adorable original stitchery patterns and kits. Barri not only carries complete kits, but also has a great selection of wool felt and all the general necessities for stitching on wool felt. 

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I need to tell you that I am not an expert on stitching on wool. Lots of you have more experience so please be gentle. Tinysmile

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I'm just going to share with you what I found to work best for me. Do share with us any additional tips that work for you in the comment section below.

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First off, I want you to know that I always prewash my wool felt. Since it's a blend of wool and rayon (percentages will vary with colors) it will fluff up just slightly when washed. I personally like the look of washed wool felt - it's no so flat and perfect looking. To wash I just run it under warm water then lay it flat to dry.

The biggest challenge when working with wool felt is that you can't see though it like you can with most regular fabrics. Getting your stitchery design onto the felt can be a challenge. I've tried several methods; tracing the design onto tissue paper and waxed paper, both with less than the desired results. Because you stitch through the traced lines the paper wants to tear as you stitch and makes it difficult to see what you're doing.

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I ended up going over all the stitches a second time and that was just too time consuming. I settled on tracing the words onto lightweight tearway stabilizer. The stabilizer stayed in one piece until my stitches were complete then I gently tore the stabilizer away and picked the residue out from under the stitches.

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This took no time at all and I liked the results when I was done. If you have done any machine  embroidery or applique, you probably already have non fusible tearway stabilizer on hand.

You can also just draw your letters free hand onto the small felt heart with a chalk or washout pen if you like your handwriting. I needed the help of a pattern so typed up some letters using a font that I liked and included it here: Download Conversation hearts here

Although you can just cut a heart from folded paper I've also included the heart pattern here mostly for size :Download Hearts pattern here

You'll want your smaller heart to be about 1/4" to 3/8" smaller than the larger heart all the way around. Less than perfect is perfect! Wink

I used either three strands of embroidery floss or #8 perle cotton for this project, depending on the colors that I had.

I've also inserted a YouTube video here for those who need a refresher on how to do a backstitch for the words. (This is not my voice or video).

After stitching the words onto the small heart I used a blanket stitch to attach the small heart to the larger heart then connected the two large hearts using a blanket stitch. I stuffed the heart lightly before closing. Here's a refresher on the blanket Stitch: 

If you're still with me, know that typing this tutorial took way more time than actually making the hearts. I hope you found it helpful and that it encourages you to try some hand embroidery. It's a great cozy up to the fire project for the cold winter months ahead.

Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Tutorial Tuesday # 11 (On Wednesday) - Faux Trees

Since we were snowed in over the weekend, I thought it would be a good time to try a DIY project that I'd had supplies for since way before Christmas. Natalie from the Vintageporch on Instagram shared how she made trees from faux olive branches from Hobby Lobby and since I had everything I needed I thought I'd give them a try.

Here's Natalie's dog Chester with the olive tree she made. If you don't follow Natalie you definitely should. Not only is she super sweet and talented, but I think she is one of the funniest gals on Instagram. Natalie always brightens my day.

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Since so many of my little flocked Christmas trees came wrapped in burlap this year I thought it would be fun to do an olive tree wrapped in burlap, kind of bare root style, if you will. You could totally put them in terra cotta, an olive bucket or a decorative pot, whatever fits your style.

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Here's the same tree in a metal planter that I had

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and an olive bucket from Hobby Lobby.

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You will need three olive stems from Hobby Lobby, (with the 50% off discount they came to $10.50 for the three and they measured about 24" long), a plastic pot to "plant" them in, and a decorative container or a square of burlap just large enough to wrap around and cover the plastic container.

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You will also need plaster of Paris, a small block of Styrofoam, floral wire and floral tape, white glue, paint and coffee grounds.

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To start:

Bundle the three stems together and wire them together securely using 28 or 30 gauge floral wire.

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Next wrap the stems with the floral tape covering the wire.

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Hot glue a piece of Styrofoam in the center of your plastic container and once cool insert the olive stems into the center of the Styrofoam.

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This will keep the stems upright and centered while you add the plaster of Paris.

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Fill your container to the top with the plaster, following the directions on the package. Allow to thoroughly dry. I decided to try and add a bit of texture to the stem so I coated it with white glue and sprinkled the wet glue with coffee grounds. I liked the darker color and the added texture that the grounds created. After that was completely dry I painted the stems with a bit of dark green and burnt umber acrylic paint. You could eliminate this step but I just liked how it added some character and realism to the tree trunk.

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If you cover the base with burlap there is no need to paint the plaster, but if you want the look of exposed dirt, paint the plaster with glue then sprinkle more coffee grounds on the wet surface for the look of potting soil. You can also add paint as you did on the stems and even some moss if you'd like.

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If you are wrapping the base with burlap, add just a bit of stuffing around the pot then tie the burlap with jute twine around the stem. I didn't take of photo of this next step, but you will want to apply the coffee grounds to the stem and paint it before wrapping the base in burlap.

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I had so much fun making the olive tree that I decided to try making a lemon tree from stems I found at Kirkland's. I did this tree exactly like the olive tree and love the pop of color that the fruit adds.

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I hope you found this tutorial helpful and I would love to know if you try these. These little trees create such a bright and cheery spot in your home, especially this time of year when our homes seem to suffer from the wintertime blahs.

Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Tutorial Tuesday #9 - No-Sew Santa Bag Pillows - part 1

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I know it's Wednesday when I'm posting this, but I couldn't wait until next week to show you these darling $2 Santa Sacks that I found yesterday at Michael's.

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How cute are these for just $2 each?! (The Christmas decor at Michaels isn't on sale yet but they will probably put everything on sale in the coming weeks). 

They come in three sizes, (this is the smallest, measuring 7.5" X 10.5") four styles and are made from an unbleached osnaburg type fabric for a farmhouse vibe. I thought they would make fun no-sew projects.

Here's how:

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1. Give the bag a good ironing.

2. Above the line that says "recipient", write with a fabric marker or embroider a name. It would be fun to do a family name or a teachers name as I did here.

3. Add about a cup of Poly-Pellets stuffing beads for weight, then stuff the bag full to the top with poly-fill.

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4. Pull the drawstring closed and carefully hot glue it shut.

5. Add any embellishments that you'd like (optional) holly sprigs, jingle bells etc. then add a gift tag.

That's it, a cute personalized gift for under $5 - done in minutes.

Fun, right?

Encourage one another,

Suzanne

 


Tutorial Tuesday #8 - Sewn Silk Velvet Pumpkins

 

A few of you have asked how I made these silk velvet pumpkins so before I move on to Christmas (you know it's coming) I thought I'd do a really quick tutorial here.

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First off I love this silk velvet from prismsilks.com! If you like the luxurious look of these I definitely think this fabric is worth the splurge. Look at their iridescent velvets. So yummy! You will need at least an 18" square of velvet for this size pumpkin so their fat quarters are perfect for a pumpkin like the one below with enough left over for acorns. Get 10% off your order with code "prism16".

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I've learned a lot this fall while making so many pumpkins and wanted to document it here.

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Any size works so use all your scraps and make various sizes. A seven inch round makes those tiny pumpkins like you find in the grocery store.

Using super heavy thread or dental floss, gather 1/4" from the raw edge of your circle. 

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You can fill it completely with pellets if you'd like. Experiment.

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Then finish off with fiberfill.

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Pull your thread tight and sew the opening closed. Knot thread and cut.

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I used a doll needle to sculpt my pumpkin - just pulling the stuffing up toward the top. This is optional since they are cute just as they are.


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Apply hot glue to the dried pumpkin stem and hold it while it dries.

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That's it! It takes about thirty minutes to make one and with the beautiful array of colors of silk velvet that's available, you can make them to match your decor. Because you're using real pumpkin stems, no two will look alike. So fun!

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Don't forget to save your pumpkin stems from this years jack-o-lanterns for next years elegant velvet pumpkins.

Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Tutorial Tuesday #7 Part Two - How to Make No Sew Velvet Pumpkins

Back in 2014 we made fabric covered pumpkins as a make-it take-it at Strawberry Patches during a fall shop hop. We went though cases of toilet paper (yup, that's the secret ingredient) and hundreds of fat quarters. To this day that was probably the most fun free project we ever did. 😍

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This year I decorated our main floor for fall using lots of velvet pumpkins

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but when I needed just a few more and our local gift shop had sold out, I remembered the cotton print pumpkins we made four years ago. Could I use that same technique using velvet?

The answer was yes! But I did learn a few things along the way that I wanted to share with you here just in case you want to make some.

Fabric:

Probably the single most important contributor to the success of your project is your choice of fabric. Because you will be building your pumpkin around a roll of toilet paper, and because you have to tuck the fabric into the opening of the cardboard roll, your fabric cannot be too heavy. If you are having trouble shaping your pumpkin or if you are struggling with getting all the raw edges into the paper core, your fabric is probably too heavy. You'll just need to experiment but go with the lightest weight fabric that you can.

Because I wanted my pumpkins to be in muted decorator colors (not fashion colors) I found the selection to be very limited. I found the pink blush velvet at Joann Fabric in the home decor section as well as the grey/dotted fabric shown in this post. They worked well but not as well as the white crushed velvet below.

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The white crushed velvet is called Panne by Glitterbug also from Joann. Real velvet is expensive and again, colors are limited so the search is on for next year for lightweight velvet with a slight stretch. For now, the Glitterbug Panne was the best choice. 

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Whatever fabric you decide on you will need about a 24" square of fabric (2/3 yard) to cover what I'm calling a large pumpkin. All the fabric that I used for this post was at least 58" wide so I could get two pumpkins from 2/3 yard. 

Stems:

I, by far, prefer natural dried pumpkin stems on my velvet pumpkins. The nice people at our local pumpkin patch just gave them to me. As I stated in the previous blog post I cut the stems from pumpkins that had been accidentally smashed in the field. You could also cut the stems from the pumpkins you purchase this year and store them for use next year. You must use dried stems only because green stems will mold and ruin your fabric. To dry the stems that I gathered this year I simply cut off all the flesh then baked them in a warm oven for a few days until they were totally dry. They will turn light brown and be very light and hollow sounding when tapped once the moisture is removed.

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I plan to store my left over stems for next year when I hopefully have a better selection of velvet to work with. One other good source for free natural stems is at the bottom of those big boxes that pumpkins are sold from. Usually merchants will give you broken off stems since they end up throwing them away.

If you don't have access to natural pumpkin stems you can use sticks, cinnamon sticks, twisted craft paper or sculpt stems from air dry paper clay.

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Embellishments:

This is where you can go just as crazy as you like. I've decorated some pumpkins for this post with milliners flowers

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as well as artificial flowers and berries purchased from places like Hobby Lobby and Joann Fabrics. (The stem below was made from air dried clay then painted).

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With the right stem I think they are beautiful just plain.

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One manufacturer sells 6" natural stem velvet pumpkins embellished with feathers for $80 each. Make no mistake about it, they are gorgeous, but way too expensive for my budget so making them myself was definitely the way to go for me.

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The photo above and below is of my mini pumpkin. (Directions below).

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Joann Fabrics has a wonderful selection of inexpensive feathers. My feathered velvet no-sew pumpkins cost less than $5 each to make and took only a few minutes to do.

Here's how:

Cut the corners off your 24" square of fabric. No need to make a circle since the edges will be stuffed into the cardboard core of the toilet paper. You just want to reduce the bulk a bit.

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Prepare your toilet paper roll by unwinding it a bit then re wrapping it loosely with the tissue you unwound. As I rewrapped the roll I twisted the paper every once in awhile to create volume. By adding the tissue back just to the very center of the roll you will be shaping it slightly, taking away the look of flat square sides. 

Sit the roll in the center on the wrong side of your fabric and add a few handfuls of fiberfill. I like to add a little to the bottom of the roll to create a nice round bottom. 😂

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Then add more fiberfill to the sides and top, leaving the hole open on top.

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At this point I fill the paper core with stuffing beads to add weight. You could also use rice or beans, but remember we are going to enjoy our velvet pumpkins for years and don't want any critters munching on their insides. 😱

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Now you just start bringing the sides up and into the core. If you pick the roll up just slightly, the stuffing beads will fall to the bottom of the soon to be pumpkin and give you more room to stuff the fabric into the core. Continue poking the fabric into the core, all the way around, shaping as you go.

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Use chop sticks (I used kitchen shears) to poke the fabric into the hole and to shape your pumpkin.

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Once you are happy with the shape add the stem and embellishments.

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Here's and idea for smaller pumpkins. Just cut the height from a nearly empty TP roll. (I won't tell you where I was when this idea came to me). 😂Then wrap it with more paper and some stuffing. It makes darling smaller pumpkins. 

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I'll thinking a paper towel roll would work too for a really huge pumpkin, you'll just need lots of fabric.

This technique is perfect for all ages and skill levels because there is absolutely no sewing involved and except for the embellishments, no gluing. I hope I've given you some fresh ideas and that you will share your creations and ideas with us here. Also I'd love for you to comment below if you know where I can find lightweight crushed velvet in home decor colors.

Until next time,

Encourage one another,

Suzanne