Introduction: Eco-Friendly "paper" Chains (aka World's Easiest Sewing Project)

Do you remember making paper chains as a child to decorate for the holiday season?
You got out the construction paper, the wrapping paper and you cut and stapled and glued to your little hearts content.

And then after New Years down came the paper chains... and they headed straight for the trash can (or recycling if they were lucky) because there was no way loops of paper would make it through a year in storage.

So long little trees that supplied the paper for our fleeting decorations. Thats for 3 weeks of merriment!

Did you know that most polyester felt is made from recycled plastic bottles? Awesome right?! And unlike paper, fabric can be stored quite easily and still retain it's shape.

So, why not make paper chains not so papery? Use a repurposed, reusable material... and you can teach a beginner the very basics of sewing while you are at it!

Step 1: Equipment, Supplies, Knowledge

Equipment:
Scissors
Ruler
Pencil
Paint brush*
Shallow water container (I used the lid of one of those Crystal Lite style tubes)*
Sewing machine, with thread and loaded bobbin

Supplies:
Felt (I purchased 3 6" by 72" strips, but you can also use the 9x12 felt squares)
Glitter glue/ puffy paints *
Water*
Velcro (I used fancypants fashion velcro, but any "hook" side of the velcro will stick to felt)

Knowledge:
How to load a bobbin
How to thread your machine
(I sort of assumed you knew this already, or would be able to find an instructable to help you)


* = Optional, but sparkly!


Step 2: Make Sparkle Babies!

While this step in not necessary, who doesn't like a little festive glitter?

Squeeze some glitter glue/ puff paint into the shallow container of water, and stir with your brush. This is to make it spread easier across the fabric. You can also add colour with your puffy paints if you like.

Brush on to the fabric and allow to dry.

Step 3: Measure Twice, Cut Once

If you purchased felt from the bolt, it will most likely be 72 Wide. If so, measure along the strip every 9 inches and cut. You should end up with 8 rectangles. Repeat for the other colours.

If you have felt squares, you will need 4 of each colour (if you want the same length chain as out friends with the bolt felt), and the above step has been done for you.

After you have a nice pile of 9" pieces, you want to measure and cut the felt so you end up with a nice big pile of 9" x 1 1/2" felt strips.

(For you bolt folk, that would be along the 6" side of your rectangle, for the felt square kids, along the 12" side).

Step 4: Sew and Sew

Seriously, the easiest sewing project ever.

Decide the colour order and select the first piece of felt. Put the 2 sparkly ends together, and sew a straight line along the edge.

DON'T FORGET!!!! back-stitch at the beginning and the end of the seam, to prevent the stitches from falling out.

Trim your treads and make it look pretty, then turn the ring right side out.




Step 5: Cha-Cha-Chains


Once you have that first loop, all you need to do is grab the next strip & thread it through the first loop.
Make use that the side you want to face outwards (sparkles, right?) is touching at the ends and sew the ends again.

Keep repeating this easy peasy steps over and over to make a chain.

Step 6: Sticky Situation

Now comes the hard part (guff guff)

You can't sticky tape felt "paper" chains to the wall

If you have thumbtacks, and you are allowed, have at it!

If the rules in your house at a little more strict, read on:

With the last few strips of felt, cut a small amount of Velcro (the hook part, if you don't have the fancy stuff shown here) and place on the wrong (not sparkly) side of the felt.

Sew the Velcro onto the strip. To do so easily, sew along one edge and when you get to the end, leave the needle in the fabric, lift the presser foot, and rotate the fabric 90 degrees. That way, you only have to back-stitch when you have sewn the full perimeter of the Velcro.



Step 7: Hanging Around

Since felt and Velcro are great friends, you need not add the soft half of the Velcro.

Using the Velcro'd strip, hang your new chains by feeding the sticky strip through the appropriate loop, and adjusting the length so your chain hangs nicely.

Ta Dah!

Kid Friendly, Eco Friendly, Waste Reducing Holiday Decoration.


WITH SPARKLES!

Comments

author
monsoon0203 (author)2010-01-01

Someone should make a mobius-strip chain :D

author
AngryRedhead (author)2009-12-27
I think this is a great idea and very cute!!  I personally wouldn't exactly consider it eco-friendly as compared to locally made paper composed largely of recycled paper fibers that can be composted or recycled further or compared to scraps of leftover wrapping paper from the previous year that you saved in the hopeful desire that you would reuse it or compared to some other options or just having none at all.  It's hard to say what exactly is "eco-friendly" and what isn't because everyone has a different stance.  I tend to consider whether or not it would have been in the landfill without rescue, how it will be disposed of or recycled, where it came from, what its "shelf-life" is, whether or not it's a necessity or improves the world around us, etc.

Felt cannot be recycled, cannot be composted, will stretch and warp over time, frequently comes from Asian countries (which is only a consideration if you don't live nearby), and won't stay fashionable forever because of ever-evolving trends in holiday decorations (Thanks, Martha and your crazy stunts at refreshing acorns and branches into a good thing every year).  Plus it attracts cat fur like nobody's business which is a pain to remove from felt especially if you, theoretically, have long-haired black cats and don't want to put black felt on your theoretical tree.  If you'd done it with fabric from clothes that Goodwill and other clothing donation centers throw away, then you would have a really good argument for this being eco-friendly.

HOWEVER! I do NOT think that's the point.  I honestly think this is a genuinely cute idea regardless of the above, and it could be considered an eco-conscious alternative to other decorations.  Plus I love the colors you picked out!  They're very fresh and wintery and sorta vintage.  Felt is such an easy material to use, and it's cheap and comes in a ton of different colors.  Plus it's good for at least a couple years so long as you, again theoretically, don't have long-haired black cats with a fetish for rubbing and crawling through trees like evil horrible monsters whom you love anyway.  ;-)

Good job and great Instructable!  Voted 5.
 
author
yokozuna (author)AngryRedhead2009-12-28

I tend to agree with this on the eco-friendly portion.  Paper can be homemade as shown in several ibles, and remade or recycled afterwards.  I also think it's a good instructable though, something nice and original that properly reflects the essence of the website.

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