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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Kids Craft: Felt and Beads Hanging Decoration

One afternoon, during summer break, Ana was just looking at the hand-made hanging decorations in her room that her Pattee (my mom) had made for her when she was little: Sea Creatures and Birds.

And declared, I want to make something like that myself, Mama.

It must've worked on her mind for a while before she came out with it. Half my projects are mostly done in my mind before I even start gathering the materials to actually make it.

Anyway, after sewing felt purses and felt animals, bracelets and headbands, I knew she was ready to handle something like this on her own.

So, I raided my scrap fabric stash and bead collection and gathered the thread and needle and such to get Ana started on her project.

Items used:
Felt scraps in bold solid colors
Paper template cut-out for the shape/object
Sewing pins (optional - keeps the fabric pieces from sliding around while sewing)
Needle, thread (we used Crochet Cotton Thread for some, 3-strand embroidery floss for some)
Faceted/flower beads (Ana's choice, can use any favorite beads or embellishments)
Jute/cotton/wool yarn about 2½ to 3 feet long for stringing up the hanging decoration
other beads for stringing up the felt creatures

  1. Prepare the template. We went with fish. Cut 2 pieces of fabric for each animal/item template for the hanging decoration to sew together with beads. We did not discard felt scraps as we were going to use them to stuff the two pieces we sew together.

  2. Rather than matching up the colors for each fish, we mixed it up a bit - red on one side, blue on the other and so on.

    After she cut out the fish and was ready to carry on with the project, I rather took it upon myself to dot the edges as guides for sewing the beads. Which Ana ignored for the most part, but, looked like it was helpful in some way to keep her stitches even.

    Thread a sturdy needle with Crochet Cotton Thread, pin two cut out fish pieces together and start sewing, adding beads as we go along on both sides - in and out, just regular running stitch along the edge.

  3. Before sewing up all the way through, leave a 2-inch gap and stuff the fish with scraps of felt or other fabric or anything soft that will hold the shape and yet be pliable. Then sew up all the way so the fish is ready.

    Add embellishments as the mood calls for. Ana decided to add "scales" for the fish - some by sewing across the fish with a few rows of beads, some by simply gluing on rick-rack trim I had.

    We used a large silver sequin for the eye - the way it catches the light as it twirls in the air makes quite a good simulation of the glassy huge fish eyes.

  4. Ana wanted to do just 4 fish for this hanging decoration. Any number is fine, of course. Once the fish were ready, she just strung them up with a large needle and yarn, adding beads in between.

  5. We made a little tassel-like end piece to complete the decoration. It was a toss-up between hanging a bell at the bottom so it makes beautiful music when the wind blows, or just a tassel/fringe-like thing that will sway gracefully in the wind.

    Ana's choice: tassel as she wanted to learn how to make it.

    We added a few small cowbells to the tassel just in case the strong autumn winds sway the hanging decoration hard enough to make the bells chime.

    Tassels can be any length. We went with approximately 3 inches finished size. It can be as thick with as many strands of yarn we like or as little. We went with about what is shown in the picture to use the leftover off-white yarn scrap I had. Use a tape/ruler to cut the strands of yarn to desired length.

    A short-cut I use for my crochet/knitting projects is: Use a small board book (or piece of cardboard) and wind the yarn round and round as many times as the thickness/strands desired. Then, cut at one edge, through all the strands of yard wound around. This leaves us with a bunch of uniform-sized bits of yarn. Take one of these yarn pieces out and make a pile of the others; tie the single piece of yarn around the middle of the pile of the rest of the yarn bits. And there you have it - a nice tassel.

    Simply add beads and whatnot to make it fancier and attach it to the end of the hanging decoration.
  6. Hang it up where it catches the eye and the wind.

Rome was not built in a day. While not as grand as Rome itself, it is a rather large project which Ana completed over a few days, making progress and saving her work appropriately for another day as the mood dictated.

Just watching her show it proudly to her Nana and Pattee was beautiful for me. When I was six, I did not do anything half as gorgeous as this, even with my mom being a craftswoman.

Of course, if one were to put it under a microscope, one could remark that the stitches are not uniform, the beads are a bit haphazard and such. But, that's immaterial to me. In fact, such idiosyncrasies increase the charm for me, especially when made by the small hands of a six year old, voluntarily and joyfully.

We also did butterfly hanging decorations (to be strung up) much like the fish here, and are working on Autumn leaves and Xmas themed ones. Whenever Ana gets a chance to finish them I hope to share pictures of the finished work.

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At 8:24 AM, Blogger Choxbox said...


At 9:26 AM, Blogger Sheela said...

Thanks, Choxie!

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Putti Amma said...

that is beautiful !! im always looking for more sewing ideas for little hands, love this!!


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