Sunday, October 9, 2011

DIY: Felt Sugar Skulls and/or Garland

I love Day of the Dead. It's one of my all time favorite holidays. I am lucky to live in Atlanta, which has a high Hispanic population, which allows me to participate in many Dia de los Muertos activities that would otherwise not be organized by the city.

This Day of the Dead, I am planning on decorating our fireplace to reflect my love for the holiday. I needed to create an eye-catching garland that was cute, colorful, and fun to make. It is so easy to abandon a project when you're crafting because it can be overwhelming.

I found a bunch of cute Sugar Skulls (a candy treat for the holiday) on Pinterest:

The ones made of felt were the most eye-catching to me. Agreeing that it was cost sensible (felt is generally about $0.25 a sheet! That's so cheap!), I set out to use old felt scraps and new felt sheets to create my garland...

For this project, you will need...

- Felt in many different colors
- Scissors (fabric scissors work best)
- A permanent marker
- A piece of paper
- A pencil
- Embroidery thread in many different colors
- Fabric scraps
- Tacky glue
- Buttons
- A long piece of ribbon
- Cotton balls or cotton batting
- A sewing needle (I recommend one that is easy to thread and one that is smaller in circumference to string the glass beads)
- Glass beads (optional)

- Rhinestones (optional)
- Glue gun (optional)

The first thing to do is create a a template for your skulls. This makes the process go so much faster...
How to do this is you take a piece of paper and fold it in half. Do you know how to make a heart if you cut it out of folded paper? Use a pencil to sketch a skull shape thinking about the principles of the heart making. The fact that the paper is folded in half will ensure that your design is symmetrical, meaning that it is the same shape on both sides of the fold.

Once your template is made, begin tracing it onto your felt using a permanent marker.

Cut out these shapes and lay them out in front of you. These felt shapes are the bases for your sugar skulls.

Now is the fun part! Begin cutting small but different sized shapes out of all colors of your fabric. Begin creating the faces of your skulls by laying them out on top of your sugar skull bases.

Some suggestions are ovals for mouths, circles, flowers, or squares for eyes, triangles or circles for cheeks. Layering only makes them funkier, so please do! The eyes look especially good if you layer them. If you are familiar with color theory, this is where you can shine. Here's a cheat sheet of eye popping color combinations: [the color relationships are most important part of this chart for this project]

Once you have your felt shapes laid out how you want them, break out the glue! Glue them into place. Don't overdo it! A drop of glue goes a long way. Also, hard glue becomes strenuous to sew through when you're hand stitching. Don't forget that the glue can leak through the felt and create unappealing glue marks. The point of gluing the shapes down is to a) hold them in place for when you sew and b) so something won't mess up your choices.

Once the glue dots are applied, it's time to stitch! Now is a good time to put on a movie or two or three. Get out the embroidery thread and begin stitching on your sugar skull faces. Whether it's teeth or reinforcing the eyes, cheeks, or noses, don't feel obligated to sew everything down. You might also use tiny glass seed beads to decorate parts of your skulls, or even sew buttons on their eyes. You have creative control!

Once you're done with designing your skully faces, get the template out again. On your fabric scraps, use the permanent marker to trace the template. Make enough fabric scrap bases to match the number of your skulls.

Matching skulls to their fabric backs and laying them out how they'll be on the finished garland

Again, break out the embroidery thread. It's time to stitch 'em up! Line the bases with the skulls so they overlap. Stitch them together by going around the skull shape. Leave a little room to stuff some cotton in, and once you stuffed the cotton in, seal it up. They should puff out! Do this for all of them.

Take small pieces of ribbon (about 2" long) and fold them over. Sew them to the top of your skulls, 1 each. This will make it easy to hang on your ribbon.

Now, get out that long piece of ribbon. It's going to be the string for your garland. I laid out the skulls and used a permanent marker to mark where the skulls would be (since some of them were different sizes). I then used a button to attach/sew the skulls to the garland so they would stay in place.

Detail of the finished piece[s]!

Ta dah! Great work! Now look at how beautiful your garland is! Display it proudly!

You can learn more about Day of the Dead or see lots of Day of the Dead themed artwork for inspiration at a post I did earlier this year. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Love it!!! Great way to use up felt scraps.