Maker Team member Jess of @otterbeestitching is enlisting some little elves in her holiday crafting. Her tutorial for a child's art ornament is a beautiful way to teach handcrafting skills to the next generation of makers and, more importantly, it's a beautiful way to spend time together! So make a little space on your calendar for an afternoon of drawing and stitching these original art ornaments with the children in your life.
Now that my kids are getting a little older, one of my favorite parts of the holiday season is crafting together. They’re both incredible budding artists and are starting to want to contribute a lot more to our holiday decor. A few years ago, we started a tradition of turning their artwork into ornaments, and it’s become such a fun way to not only capture their current interests each year, but also preserve their artistic style and handwriting over time. This year I’m passing my top tips and tricks on to you so that you can preserve your kiddo’s passions and handwriting yourself!
Skill Level: Beginner
Time: 2 - 3 Hours per Ornament, depending on complexity
1. To begin, trace three 3-4" circles onto a sheet of paper. To ensure a successful ornament, let the child know that:
- The design should fit inside the circle.
- Simple, larger shapes work best for creating templates.
- Tiny details may have to be adjusted.
Once they’re prepped, let them sketch whatever they like!
2. Once the sketches are finished, look them over together and decide which one to stitch. If you love all of them and have the time, make as many as you want!
3. Choose the felt colors for the project. Use your felt supply, Benzie's website or a swatch chart to decide. I offer a little advice on what colors I think work best, but leave most of the creative control up to my kids for this step.
4. Use a fine tip permanent marker to trace the lines of the drawing. This will be the basis for the template. If any elements need to be resized, ask your child to redraw them (or do your best to recreate them slightly larger or smaller, if necessary.)
As an alternative to Step 4, if you have an iPad and Procreate, take a photo of the design and add it to a blank canvas in Procreate. Add a new layer and, using a monoline-style marker brush, outline the drawing. Turn off the photo layer so that only the line drawing is visible. Use your fingers to pinch and drag until the design is the desired size, then turn on guided access to lock your screen.
5. Trace a template piece for each element of the design. Don’t forget to include a
template for the back of the ornament if it’s a unique shape or a circle base for any designs being stitched within a circle. Create layers for each piece for a smooth surface and to avoid any gaps. For example, on the train ornament, I made a base layer in black, then layered white, blue, and green on top. You can see each shape get progressively smaller. For the flower ornament, I made a layer for the stem and leaves that included the flower center at the top and then a layer for the petals and the center.
6. Using the templates, trace and cut all the pieces for the ornament.
7. Stitch the ornament design with a single strand of coordinating embroidery floss. I recommend threading the needle and tying thread ends in a knot. This will keep the needle from slipping out inside the pieces. If your child wants to be involved in the stitching process, this is a great time to teach them a basic running stitch. You can also stitch the main components and let the child stitch certain parts to preserve how they draw.
8. As an optional step, have your child write their name and the year on the back half with a Frixion pen. Remind them that writing on felt requires a dabbing motion, rathing than dragging which will pull the fibers. Stitch over the writing with two strands of floss and a back stitch. Remove any visible marks with a hair dryer or iron.
9. Once the front and back halves are decorated and stitched, it's time to assemble. Cut a 4-6" length of twine (or ribbon.) Fold it in half and tie a double knot at the end. Trim excess, if needed.
10. Position the loop so the knot is 1/4" from the top. Starting from the inside of the ornament, bring a coordinating floss through just to the right of the knot and come back up just to the left. Repeat this process 3-5 times so the floss is tying the hanger down. To tie off, finish the last stitch by coming up to the left of the knot. Slide needle under the floss securing the hanger and pull tight until there is a small loop left. Pass needle through this loop to make a knot. Run the needle under that floss again to secure the tail. Trim any excess.
11. Blanket stitch ornament front and back together. You may want to add a layer of wool batting between the front and back to give a more plush feel. Pin two halves together and blanket stitch closed.
You child's art ornament is complete!! Your tree will look amazing decorated with this keepsake unique to your family.
Handmade ornaments make the perfect gift for grandparents, especially when you add in the handwritten name on the back. I’m confident that once you try this project, it will become a yearly tradition that everyone looks forward to!