Introduction: Scandinavian-style Felt Christmas Tree Decorations
Red and white tree decorations look stylish and are quick and easy to make as a gift for a friend's tree (or your own!). To make all the ornaments shown in the photo (star, tree, reindeer, stocking and heart) you will need:
a 23cm x 23cm (9" x 9") square sheet of bright red felt (this will make the stocking too, even though it is shown in white in the photos)
scraps of white felt
red and white stranded cotton embroidery threads
pins and needles
a "disappearing" fabric pen
a soft pencil
polyester filling (stuffing)
narrow red, white or red and white ribbon, about 20cm (8") per decoration
small bells, buttons or other adornments (optional)
red and white sewing threads (optional)
These decorations measure roughly 7.5cm (3"), but you could make them larger if you wish. Just scale up the pattern (PDF provided in the next step) on a photocopier after printing it out.
Step 1: Cutting the Pieces and Embroidering Them
Print off the PDF pattern and cut round all the shapes.
Decide which shape you're going to start with - the heart is a nice easy one - and draw round it on the felt using the soft pencil. Then cut it out, cutting just inside the pencil line. Repeat to produce a matching felt shape. Check whether your felt has a right and a wrong side and, if it does, make sure you turn over the pattern piece before you draw round it the second time if (unlike the heart) it isn't a symmetrical shape.
Now you need to embroider a simple design onto one (or both) of the felt shapes. The non pencilled side is the right side. Using the pattern piece as guidance, work the emboidery in backstitch with 3 strands of white stranded cotton, starting with a knot on the wrong side and/or a few stitches to secure the end in the thickness of the felt so that they are not visible on the right side. When you've finished the design, finish off the end on the wrong side in the same way.
As an alternative to embroidering in white thread, you could sew a circle or heart of white felt onto the red shape using tiny running stitches in one or two strands of red cotton, and then if you wish embroider a design through both layers in red cotton. See the reindeer and Christmas tree photos for examples.
If you don't feel like embroidering both sides, then don't. And if embroidery isn't your thing, then sew on a few buttons, bells, sequins, mini pom-poms or whatever instead. See the photo of the Christmas tree and star with buttons, and the one of the white stocking with a red bell. Just keep everything white or red for that Scandinavian feel.
Step 2: Joining the Pieces, Stuffing and Finishing
Place the pair of felt pieces on top of each other, wrong sides together, and pin them in place. Cut a length of 3 strands of white thread and knot the end. Hide the knot between the two layers, starting at an appropriate place for a gap through which the decoration will be filled. For the tree this would be at a bottom corner, for the stocking a top corner, for the heart the middle of a lower edge, etc. Take the needle to the outside through one layer of felt, about 2-3mm (1/16") from the edge. Take a small stabstitch through both layers (a stabstitch is like a running stitch, but the needle must go through the felt perpendicular to it, as if you were stabbing it). Do another stitch on top of it to make sure the end of the thread is secure, then stabstitch round the whole shape until you get to the top where the hanging loop will be. Try to make the stitches on the back look as neat as the front, because both sides may be visible when the decoration is hanging on your Christmas tree.
Cut a length of ribbon that is 15-20cm (6-8") long, depending on preference. Fold it in half and insert the ends between the two pieces of felt, pinning them in place. Then continue stabstiching, taking care that the ribbon is caught by at least two stitches. Alternatively, you can sew the ribbon on the outside afterwards, turning the ends under to hide them, using matching sewing thread or a single strand of embroidery thread - the stocking shown in the previous stage has been done like that.
Stop your stitching at the appropriate corner, or else about 2cm (3/4") from the start of the stitching, to leave a gap for stuffing. Don't finish off the end of the thread yet, just remove the needle and leave the thread dangling. Push small amounts of stuffing into the decoration, using the blunt end of a pencil or some other suitable instrument to help fill narrow parts like the points of the star and the reindeer's legs. (But leave the reindeer's antlers, they look better flat.) Don't overstuff, the decorations shouldn't look plump. Then re-thread the needle and close the gap before finishing off with a few tiny stitches on top of the last stabstitch to stop it coming undone. Hide the end of the thread in the middle of the decoration. Trim round the edges with a small pair of scissors to make the felt edges even and snip off any protruding strands of stuffing, but don't worry if there is a little unevenness as that all adds to the homemade charm.
If you prefer to work blanket stitch around the edge, it will be best to attach the ribbon hanging loop beforehand. Insert the ends of the loop between the two pieces of felt and hold them in place with a few small stitches using a single strand of red embroidery thread, or red sewing thread. Then work the blanket stitch, starting at an appropriate place as for the stabstitch version. It's harder to make blanket stitch look neat, so make a stabstitched one first if you haven't done anything like this before.
Now go and hang the decoration on your tree while you decide which shape to make next.
If you can bear to give these away, they look very pretty presented in a clear cellophane bag.