When time is of the essence and handmade holiday decorations (or gifts) are needed, crafting with felt can be the solution. The beauty of working with felt is that it doesn't need to be hemmed...the edges can be left raw. I love that! You can work up some lovely pieces, as basic or as elaborate as you like, in practically no time at all.
The library has a new Christmas book that is full of cute holiday decorations, ornaments, and stocking ideas all crafted from felt. The title and the cover art grabbed my attention:
The book includes information regarding the various types of felt, basic needs for working with felt, as well as an overview with diagrams of some very basic embroidery stitches you might use to embellish your pieces. A brief description of how to use your old wool sweaters to create your own felt is also provided . (If you have shrunk any of your sweaters accidentally then you already know how to create felt and now you will have an idea of how to put them to good use.)
There are 45 projects described in the book. The projects are designed by different people which I like because it usually means that, while they share the standard set out by the author, they are not all the same style, ie. there's a little something for everyone. To test the instructions I decided to make the Christmas Candy Garland and the Holiday Hoot ornament. Templates for all the projects are provided in the back of the book. My first discovery was that the templates are not full-sized, however each one states the percentage you need to enlarge it by so you are not left completely guessing. It does lead to a little extra copying though and for me anyway, some quality time spent with my copier as I tried to figure out where to place the template on it so it would print the enlarged image fully on my paper... hmmm.
I started with the Holiday Hoot ornament designed by Lisa Jordan, and found it was definitely a quick and easy project.
To start, I cut out the required pieces of felt and applied a small dab of fabric glue on back of each piece to tack it in place.
Sew pieces in place with coordinating colors of embroidery floss using the whipstitch. Then sew body pieces together using darker brown floss and the blanket stitch. When you reach the center of the head, insert and tack in the hanging loop. Continue sewing until about 1" is left and insert desired amount of stuffing.
Finish sewing to the end and there is your Holiday Hoot ornament all ready for the tree.(It's much cuter in person...)
Next I tried out the Christmas Candy Garland designed by Esther Coar. I picked it because it looked really pretty in the photograph but seemed really simple to make. And it turned out to be both of those things, however I can not photograph it nearly as well as the book's photographer did (also, mine is still too short to show much draping as it is still in progress at this time).
The instructions and list of items needed is (purposely) vague since you will be determining how long you want to make it. None-the-less, you start by cutting strips of red and white felt. (I can see the value of investing in a rotary cutting tool!) You need twice as many red as white, it doesn't explain why - but I determined that I needed to double the red because it is thinner than the white. Then you stack the strips together with the white on top, with the white staggered forward a little (for a more solid center in the candy).
Roll the strips, keeping the long edges lined up.
Place pins to keep candies from unrolling until you need them. (The instructions indicate you might want to sew the ends to hold them in place prior to stringing them but I found that the beads held the candy together just fine - I just had to remember to remove all my pins!)
Also, while the instructions didn't say to do this, I trimmed the edges to even them after I pinned them since the layers seemed to "crawl" as I rolled them. I used waxed dental floss to alternately string the candy pieces with red and white pony beads. You will want to make sure the needle goes through the stitched (or pinned, as in my case) end of felt and the candy center.
Tie hanging loops on the end and hang.
You'll have to trust that it looks MUCH better in reality. Sorry I couldn't get a truly effective photo ... maybe once I get it to its finished length so that I can get more "swoops" going I will be able to post a better picture.
Other projects I really like and hope to try are the Stitched Gift Tags, Snowflake Coasters, Sorta Swedish Stockings, and the Merry Little Ornaments. I haven't worked with felt for years really and I found this to be a fun set of projects. I encourage you to try your hand at it as well - many of the Holiday books and a number of periodicals feature felt crafts.