Happy Holidays! Katy and I were very flattered to be invited to participate in this year’s ornament exchange. I was especially excited to participate because one of my favorite things about this sewing blog is how it has connected me with so many other wonderful sewists ( Miranda, Sonja, Jen, Krista, Jennifer, Erica, and Kelli), and this ornament exchange was the perfect opportunity to not only get crafty and make something for the other participants – but to share what I made, and how to make it, with all of our readers too!
What I decided to make did not come to me right away – I wanted it to be cute and festive, not too complicated, but also something that represented a bit of me. I decided to make tiny hot air balloons because they are bright, whimsical, and I could use a thimble for its tiny basket!
So, on to how to make yourself one, or a dozen, of these to float around your tree:
Step 1. Collect your materials: two or three different colors of felt, scissors, pencil, ruler, paper, thimble, various buttons, craft twine or thin rope trim (1.5 yards per hot air balloon), hot glue gun, stuffing, thread, needle, pins
Step 2: Make your template. Start by drawing a 1.5″ line, then at the center point of that line, draw a perpendicular line (forming a cross) that extends 1.5″ above the center point of the first line, and 2″ below. Then on one side of the cross, draw a curve from the top most point to the side point, then make a similarly shaped curve extending towards the bottom of the lower point, but do not connect at the lower point, but end 1/4″ to the side of the lower point. Add 1/4″ seam allowance all around. Fold your cross in half lengthwise and cut out.
*Tip: I traced my template onto a piece of card stock so it would be sturdier for repeated use
Step 3: Trace and cut your template shapes from the felt. If using two colors of felt, cut three of each color. If using three colors of felt, cut two of each color. Be sure and mark where the top point of your curve is so you know where your stitching line should end.
Step 4: Stitch your felt pieces together with quarter inch seam allowances. Alternating colors, stitch your pieces of felt together from the bottom edge up to where you marked the top point of your curve. Stitch together all six pieces, but leave one seam open.
Step 5: Cut your lengths of trim. Cut one 6″ length for the hanging loop and cut three 15″ lengths that will form the cables extending down the sides of the balloon to the thimble ‘basket.’ Fold each of your lengths of trim in half.
Step 6: Insert the lengths of trim into the top point of the open seam of the balloon. Start with the short loop – insert it so the loose ends are pointing out of the top of the balloon and so there is enough length protruding from the top that the ends can be tied together later. Then insert the three longer lengths so that the folded end is pointing out of the top of the balloon.
Step 7: Stitch the last seam of your balloon. Starting 1.5″ from the bottom of the seam, stitch towards the top point of the balloon where the lengths of trim are protruding.
Step 8: Tie the ends of the short loop into a double knot being sure to tie it around the loops created by the other three lengths of trim
Step 9: Turn your balloon right-side-out through the 1.5″ opening left in the final seam
Step 10: Stuff your balloon full of stuffing until it resembles a hot air balloon and not a deflated squid.
Step 11: Hand stitch closed the 1.5″ opening in the last seam, then close the bottom of your balloon by stitching together the six pieces of felt at the points at which they are joined.
Step 12: Pin down the long lengths of trip along the seams of the balloon panels and hand-stitch down starting 1″ from the bottom edge of the balloon.
*Tip: These stitches do not have to be very close together, you just want to tack the trim into place.
Step 13: Gather all six lengths of the trim evenly and trim at the shortest of the six so that they are even.
Step 14: Glue the ends of the six strands of trim to the inside of the thimble being sure to keep the lengths of the trim even so the thimble hangs below the center of the balloon.
Step 15: Cap off the thimble opening by gluing a button into it.
Step 16: Hang on your tree and admire!
*Tip: This is best done listening to festive carols and drinking some kind of warm beverage (preferably spiked).
Thank you to all the other participants in the 2013 Ornament Exchange – Katy and I have loved receiving all your hand made goodies in the mail! And an specially big thank you and round of applause for Kelli for organizing it all!