Friday, October 21, 2011
A Garland for All Occasions
The season of celebrations is upon us...with a steady stream of holidays for the next few months, I thought I would share a tutorial for a garland that you can keep up year round. By making a variety of letters and using some super cute, teeny-tiny clothespins, this garland can be changed up throughout the year to display a message appropriate for whatever occasion you are currently celebrating...P.S. If you don't sew, I've included directions for a non-sewing version as well. :)
Here are the materials you will need:
1) Felt-I used the eco-fi kind which I purchased at JoAnn's (it's made from recycled plastic bottles, so it's green too!). For a colorful garland like mine, choose five coordinating colors for the front of the letters and one color for the back of the letters. If you plan to keep this garland up year round, you'll want to choose colors that coordinate with your decor or are somewhat neutral so that they are versatile enough to be used for a variety of occasions. 2) Heat n Bond-If you plan to topstitch the letters like I did, use the lite kind, if you're making the no-sew version, use the heavier, more permanent type. 3) Freezer paper-You can buy this at your local grocery store. 4) An iron. 5) Sharp, pointy scissors-These are really important for this project, I love my Fiskars softouch scissors pictured above and would definitely recommend them. 6) Twine. 7) Itsy-bitsy, teeny-tiny clothespins-I bought these at Joann's where they were around $2.50 for a pack of 50...take a coupon and you can get them even cheaper. 8) Coordinating topstitching thread and sewing machine (if you're doing the topstitched version). 9) Computer and printer (not pictured). 10) Fusible Peltex (optional, not pictured).
Here are the steps:
Step 1: Cut your freezer paper into a few 8.5" x 11" sheets and load them into your printer. Make sure that they are oriented so that you will be printing on the paper side (not on the side that is coated with plastic).
Step 2: Find a font that you like and print out the letters onto the freezer paper in the size that you would like them to be for your garland (you only need to print one of each individual letter, ie. only print one "P" even though you will make two for the word "happy."). To save some ink, make the font white with a thin black outline. I used "Bebas" font (available for free download here) in size 500. This font works especially well because it is bold and narrow, so you can print out the letters fairly large and still use them for long phrases, like "Merry Christmas," without running out of room on your garland. Bebas is also a sans serif font which will make the sewing part easier if you are planning to do the topstitching.
Step 3: Cut the freezer paper letters apart and trim off any extra white paper (you don't need to trim around the letters yet). Cut out a piece of felt and a piece of Heat n Bond in the same shape and size of each piece of freezer paper containing a letter. Make sure to vary the colors of felt that you choose so that you don't end up with all of the letters for "Happy" in the same color (unless, of course, you want it that way :)).
Step 4: Iron the Heat n Bond onto one side of each piece of felt.
Step 5: Iron the corresponding freezer paper letter onto the other side of the felt. If you haven't worked with freezer paper before, the plastic coated side will melt and form a temporary bond with the fabric. This will allow you to very precisely cut out your letters and then easily remove the freezer paper pattern...pretty snazzy, huh?! I was really excited when I first read about freezer paper on the web! :)
Step 6: At this point you should have a paper and felt sandwich of sorts...your felt should have Heat n Bond on one side and a freezer paper letter on the other. Repeat steps 4 & 5 until all of your letters are in this "sandwich" state.
Step 7: Gather up your letters and your sharp scissors, take a seat on the couch, and turn on your favorite TV show...it's time to cut! Trim around all of your letters.
Step 8: Remove the freezer paper letter templates from your trimmed letters...but don't throw them away! The templates can be ironed onto new pieces of felt so that you can create your needed duplicate letters...isn't this freezer paper great?!
Repeat steps 4-8 with your reused freezer paper templates until you have all of the letters you need.
Step 9: Remove the Heat n Bond paper backing, your letters should have a clear, shiny coat on the back of them.
Step 10: Iron the letters onto the backing felt you chose. This helps to give them some thickness and weight so that they will hang nicely when clipped onto the garland. Optional Step: I found that because of the cutout shape of the letter, "G" the lower part flopped forward when attached to the twine. To avoid this, you can cut a thin version of the G shape out of fusible Peltex and sandwich it between the two layers of felt. This will make your G more rigid so that the bottom doesn't flop forward.
If you are doing the topstiching continue on to step 11. If you are doing the no-sew version, skip down to step 12...
Step 11: Topstich around the inner edge of each letter. I recommend starting at the top of each letter, this way your back stitches will be covered by the clothespins when the letters are hung.
Step 12: Almost done...trim around the edge of each letter so that the back felt is not visible from the front (Or for a different look, leave a small border of the back fabric showing around the edge of each letter...it's up to you.)
Step 13: It's time to celebrate! Break out the twine and those super cute clothespins and hang your garland!
This project would make a really great gift. You could box up all of the letters and include a ball of twine, a pack of clothespins, and a list of suggested messages that the recipient could create with the letters you included. I think this would be especially fun for a family with kids. I imagine the kids would have a great time picking out letters and spelling out the messages for each new holiday. Also, make sure to include the letters in the family's last name...in between holidays, they could keep the garland up as personalized decor.