Here's a relatively easy little project using scraps of felt to make a cute table-top tree-branch decoration. Use it as a centerpiece or as stand-alone decorative piece (I'm thinking Martha Stewart here -- maybe you have a corner table or better, an old-fashioned tea cart standing somewhere in your home -- set your whimsical tree-branch there to enjoy continuously.)
- Small tree branch (I found mine in the park)
- Scraps of felt in different shades of green, plus a few other complementary colors if you feel like it
- Needle and thread or embroidery floss (possibly optional -- I'll explain)
- Glue (I used quick-drying tacky glue but you may know of something better)
- An actual vase or something that can be used as such, e.g., a wine bottle
- If you use an actual vase, something to set the branch(es) in so they don't move around, e.g., river pebbles.
- Gently brush any debris from your branch and snip off any dangling ends. Set aside.
- If you're using a vase to set your branch in, prepare it by filling it with river pebbles or the like. Set aside.
- Select your scraps of felt. Depending on the size of the branch and your taste for realism, choose pieces big enough to make leaves that "fit" the size of the branch. I personally didn't bother to do this but bravo to anyone who does!
- Cut out your leaves. I cut mine freehand but you can certainly use a template if your taste for realism is strong or you're going for a more polished finished piece.
- Set your branch in your container of choice. Attach your leaves to the branch. There are obviously a number of ways to do this. I tried glue first but my tacky glue didn't cut it. I suspect a glue gun would. Being without one, alas, I reverted to sewing. It worked fine, and wasn't as horribly laborious as it sounds. You could probably also add some nice flourishes using fancy thread or embroidery floss if you're skilled in that kind of thing (thinking Martha Stewart again here).
- If you sew, you might want to reinforce your stitching and secure the positioning of your leaves with a dab of tacky glue on the back.
- Snip off any loose threads, shape your leaves a bit and otherwise tidy-up your work as necessary. Enjoy!
Until next time --
1. Embroidery Floss.
2. Seed Beads.
3. Regular sewing thread in a color that matches your beads.
4. A heat-transfer pencil.
5. An air-soluble pen (a pen that makes a mark which will disappear in a day or so).
6. A transparent gridded ruler.
PLUS, tracing paper, scissors, a home iron, fabric to embroider your design onto, and an embroidery hoop. For this project I used a 6" hoop.
STEP 1: Trace your design onto tracing paper using the heat transfer pencil. I chose an eight pointed star - you can choose pretty much any image you like, as this technique works well for filling any simple shape.
STEP 2: Iron the design onto your fabric. Use the hottest setting that will work for your chosen fabric, turn the steam setting to "off," and do not let your design shift while ironing. My design was transfered after about ten seconds of ironing.
STEP 3: Outline your design using any stitch you like. I chose to use the Stem Stitch, which is illustrated below. For this project, I did my stitching with three strands of embroidery floss. A handy set of illustrations for various outline stitches can be found here.
STEP 4: You are going to run a series of parallel threads over the entirety of your design. I chose a distance of 3/8". Using your transparent gridded ruler, make small dots right next to your outline, indicating where your parallel stitches should be placed. The ink should disappear in a day or so, but it's still best to keep your marks as small as possible.
STEP 5: Using the marks you've made, create a series of long parallel stitches that fill up your entire shape.
STEP 6: Decide whether you would like to end up with a shape filled with squares or diamonds. If you want squares, you should make your second set of parallel stitches at a 90 degree angle to the first set. I decided I wanted diamonds, so I chose a random angle, and simply made all my stitches parallel to the first line that I made at random.
STEP 7: Once you have filled your entire shape with a grid of long stitches, you can start adding the beads. Thread your needle with a double strand of regular sewing thread, then bring your needle up through the fabric right next to the place where two threads cross.
Thread a bead onto your string, and bring your needle back down through the fabric on the opposite side of the crossed threads.
To make sure your beads are securely stitched onto the fabric, bring your needle back up, and make a second stitch through each bead before moving on to anchor the next intersection of threads. Keep going until you've tacked down all your threads.
STEP 8: Admire the beauty!
*Take an plain picture frame, trim the rose buds from the stems, adhere just a few buds to a corner of the frame. Place a picture of you and your sweetie from your Valentine's Day together, or any memorable photo.
*Use the rose buds to decorate a plain hair clip or hair comb. Wrap the rose ends with floral tape or ribbon then glue to the hair accessory. Decorate a messy bun or pull back one side of your hair back right above your ear.
*Fill a clear glass vase with the dried rose buds and use as a table center piece. You can also place the rose buds in a pretty bowl and add some eucalyptus for a simple potpourri.