DIY: Upcycled Fabric Garlands

Guest tutorial by Bobbi Lewin

I will admit it, I have a little bit of an addiction to garlands.  I make them out of everything and hang them all over the house.  I especially love making crafty things out of materials I have on hand.  I have spent way too much time and money on craft supplies that I then didn’t use, so now I’m always looking for ways to use what I already have.  I encourage you to do the same.  This project takes about an hour and a half to do.

Gather your materials.
·     You will need two different fabrics.  I’ve used some of my husband’s shirts that look much better as a craft project than they did as shirts.  (He gave them to me really!)  Think how fun it would be to use old clothes that have some kind of sentimental value, such as baby clothes or the shirt you wore on your first date with your partner.
·     buttons. I just cut the buttons off the shirts.
·     needle and thread
·     fabric scissors or pinking shears
·     scissors for cutting paper
·     a length of ribbon, rick rack, yarn, or string to use as the cord
·     fabric marker
·     pen
·     piece of cardstock
·     something circular to trace circles of two different sizes.  I used a votive holder, and traced both ends.

 On the cardstock, trace one small and one larger circle.  

Cut them out. When you suddenly realize you are cutting paper with your good sewing scissors, exclaim, “oh no!” and run in the kitchen to get a more appropriate pair of scissors.

Decide how many flower rosettes you want on your garland.  Using the fabric marker if you have one, or a pen if you don’t, trace two large circles for each flower on one of the fabric pieces.  Then on the other fabric trace the small circles, two for each flower.  I wanted nine rosettes, so I traced 18 large and 18 small circles.

Carefully cut out each of the circles.  You can use pinking shears if you have them.  They give a fun edge that doesn’t fray so much.  Regular scissors will work too; they’ll just give a different look.  When I was a kid, my mother sewed a lot.  I used to be in awe of her pinking shears (I wasn’t allowed to make Barbie clothes with them. Probably she knew I’d cut paper).  I don’t know why it took me so long to get my own pair.  If you do a lot of fabric crafts, I recommend a pair of pinking shears!

Place on small circle on top of each large circle, in the center.   Thread your needle, knotting one end of the single thread.  You are going to stitch a small circle in the center, stitching through both layers of fabric.  If it helps, draw a little circle with your fabric marker.   To secure the thread, at the beginning of the circle stitch back and forth over a couple threads.  Then make long running stitches around, ending with the needle behind the fabric.

 Now, pull the thread gently to gather the fabric.

 Run several stitches through the point on back to secure your thread.  Snip off the thread.

 Repeat with all circles.

Prepare your cord. Decide how long you want it to be, and thinking about how far apart you want your flowers spaced, cut a length of cord.  I had some ribbon yarn and I crocheted a cord that is about 60 inches long.  You could braid some yarn or string together or you could use a ribbon or a thick piece of yarn.  You could even cut strips of the fabric to make your cord.  That would give a really nice, frayed and primitive look to your garland.

Thread your needle again, with a 24” piece of thread.  Don’t go longer or it tends to tangle.  Double the thread over and tie both ends together in a knot.

Take the needle through the back of one rosette.  Make a couple stitches back and forth to secure the thread.

Place the cord behind that rosette; run the thread through the cord and through another rosette, back to front.  Take a couple stitches through both rosettes, pulling them tight together.

Now sew a button on each side.  These buttons have a very pretty mother of pearl finish; I think I’ll go through the husband’s closet to see if there is anything else I want;)  You can sew both buttons on at the same time, just running the needle through each side.  Repeat this along the length of your cord with all of the flower rosettes.

Ta Da!  Now you have a very pretty garland that you can hang in a window, on your holiday tree, in a door way, or on the wall as an accent. Enjoy!


Bobbi Lewin is a mixed-media and fiber artist, who loves playing around with all kinds of art forms.  She draws her inspiration from the journeys through everyday life.  Since she was a little girl, she’s had either a pencil or a crochet hook in her hand. Her grandmother taught her to crochet when she was about eight, and some of her favorite treasures are the pieces of needlework handed down through generations from the women in her family.  It gives her great joy to be able to carry on the tradition of this handicraft.


Jan Halvarson


aimee said...

such a cute tutorial i cant wait to make one i love garlands, i cant crochet though so i will have to try something else, maybe platted yarn, thanks for sharing xxx

Anonymous said...

That is opretty cool I know exactly how it feels to have so much crafty things at home and wanting to figure out what to do with them! You just gave me a great idea! Thanks!

Karen L R said...'s so great to see you over here! congrats on your fun tutorial! xo

Unknown said...

love this tutorial! can't wait to make one... or maybe several!

Lisa Lehmann @StudioJewel said...

oh my. this is great. we HAVE to make this. thank you for sharing!

Coco Cake Land said...

this is an amazing tutorial!! love the photos, and all the detailed step-by-steps, but most of all THAT CRAZY CUTE GARLAND! thank you for sharing! ^__^

Unknown said...

Ooooh Bobbi you are so talented! I wanna make one:)

Kristin said...

Yes, I agree - Bobbi is a super talent! Great tutorial! :)