Wednesday, November 15

DIY fun old-fashioned Christmas ornament

I had so much fun making a Christmas ornament from one of my mom's handwritten recipes (see that post here) that I decided to do a little more Christmas crafting.

I pulled an old technique from my Christmas memories and made this pretty stencilled ornament:

An ornament like this is super-easy to make and very inexpensive--perfect for gift-giving!

Here are the supplies you'll need (affiliate links provided for your convenience):

plain fabric
masking tape or painter's tape
small wooden embroidery hoop
craft paints in your choice of colors
stencil brushes
Christmas stencils
felt or fabric batting
sharp scissors

To start, you'll need a tiny embroidery hoop, like this 4" one.

You can usually find these at craft stores or sewing stores, or you can order them online. They should cost less than $2 apiece.

You'll also need a small piece of fabric. Unbleached muslin works well. I had a few scraps of grainsack cloth, so I used that.

Use your embroidery hoop to measure a square of fabric. You'll want your piece of fabric to be a bit larger than the hoop.

Next you'll need a Christmas stencil. To make this ornament, I used a stencil that I've owned for many years. But there are lots of Christmas stencils available; you'll just need to find some small ones. I found several at that would work well for this project, like the ones in this little book:

If you can't find a stencil that strikes your fancy, you can always cut your own! Use a small piece of plastic or a piece of stiff cardstock (an old manila file folder works well). Use an exacto knife to very carefully cut out a design, and voila! Instant stencil!

I use acrylic craft paint for stencils. These are easy to find at craft stores, usually for less than $1 per bottle. No special paints needed.

One special tool you will need: a good stencil brush or brushes. I like the kind with bristles. You can use a foam pouncer, but I think the brushes with bristles are easier to control. The supply list above links to a great inexpensive set, or you can find them at your local craft store.

Tape your stencil to the fabric with masking tape or painter's tape. Be sure to tape the stencil down securely so that it won't wiggle while you're working. And cover all sides of the stencil so that no paint can escape over the sides of the stencil.

If you're using more than one color in your stencil, mask off the sections that you don't want to paint with the first color. For a project this small, you may have to tear tiny pieces of tape to cover up little bits of the stencil. For my ornament, I covered up the portions I wanted to be green and painted all the red parts of the design first. Then I removed the tape from the portions that needed green paint and taped over the red portions. Don't assume that you can carefully stay within the lines: you can't. Tape over anything you don't want painted with a particular color.

Squirt a bit of paint onto a palette (for this, I like to use an old plate). Dip your brush lightly into the paint, then brush off most of the paint. Seriously, this is the most important step. You want your brush to be almost dry before you start applying paint to the fabric. You might want to practice on a scrap piece of fabric first.

Now hold the stencil brush straight up and down and pounce paint onto the stencil. Pounce, pounce, pounce, pounce, pounce, straight up and down. You're adding just a teeny tiny bit of paint with every pounce of the brush. Do not stroke the paint from side to side; go straight up and down. If you need more paint, dip your brush again, but be sure to remove most of the paint before touching the fabric.

These three techniques—taping off parts of your design, removing most of the paint from the brush, and pouncing straight up and down—are the most important tips for ensuring that your image stays within the lines of the stencil.

Repeat the technique until you've used whatever colors you like and completed the entire image. Then carefully remove the stencil from the fabric and admire your work!

To frame the ornament in the embroidery hoop, first place the hoop on top of the design, like so:

Center the design in the frame. You can make a couple of small marks on the fabric if needed. (You can see that I really should have cut a larger square of fabric for this project; I barely had enough fabric to fit the hoop!)

Now cut a piece of felt or batting to place behind your painted fabric. This will make the painted fabric look nicer from both the front and the back.

Slide the larger portion of the embroidery hoop over the smaller portion of the hoop and tighten the screw so that the image is pulled taut.

Hint: if the screw is hard to tighten with your fingers, use pliers. You want to be sure that it's screwed together nice and tight!

When you're satisfied with the tautness of the image, trim away the excess fabric with scissors. Then tie on a ribbon or a piece of twine to serve as a hanger.

Ta da! You will have created a beautiful ornament in less time than it took me to write this blog post!

This technique is especially useful if you need to make several small gifts—you can get an assembly line going and make up a bunch of these in very little time. And they look so pretty hanging on the tree!

Do you like to make Christmas ornaments? I'd love to see your creations!

I'm joining these great parties:
Inspire Me Monday at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

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  1. Very cute! I'm hoping to get my tree up soon. Is yours up?

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