My favorite Christmas ornaments are ones that have memories attached to them. I might like the shiny red spheres and the glittering gold stars, but the ornaments that are attached to a memory always make me smile, those and the ornaments that are symbolic of different aspects of what Christmas is about or who was involved. An angel or a star on top of the tree reminds of us the angels proclaiming Christ’s birth, the star representing the one that guided the wise men to Jesus, and candy canes represent the staff of the lowly shepherds who were the first to be told of the birth of this newborn king. One thing I didn’t ever really give much thought to on a Christmas tree was the fruit that people sometimes hang. Part of that tradition stems from the fact that dried fruit would have been something that they had on hand to decorate with, another aspect would probably have been the good smells they add to the room, but another reason that I had never heard of or considered until recently was really interesting.
I don’t know if there is any truth to this as it being a reason for hanging fruit on the tree, but I like the idea of it… Back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit… they stole. But they ate the fruit and could not put it back. God promised to one day redeem them, by returning the fruit they were not capable of returning themselves…by His Son hanging on the cross for our sins. And the idea of hanging the fruit on the tree is that it’s a reminder of our sins and of us giving ourselves over to God for our transgressions. Again, I’m not so sure that’s why the tradition actually started, but it’s a really good analogy (in my opinion).
Well, that thought inspired me. I had been talking to my mom about future sewing projects when she suggested doing some kind of hand-sewn ornament. The problem I was left with was deciding what the ornaments would look like. I already knew I wanted to do something with felt again… it’s inexpensive and really good for practicing hand sewing with. Suddenly, I knew what I wanted to make. So today, our hand-sewing efforts include some felt fruit ornaments.
You can pick and choose which ornaments you want to make. Don’t feel obligated to make all of these, and feel free to mix it up! But I’m going to give you a list of all of the materials and supplies I used so you know what you’ll need. As always, I recommend reading through all of this before beginning your project.
I only made one ornament of each shape to start with, but I could easily make 2-4 more of each one (depending on the shape) with the small amount of materials I had. (Note: This post does contain affiliate links. Read about that in the sidebar or the bottom of the page for mobile. Your least expensive route for this project would be to shop at a dollar store or in the craft section of most stores.)
- Felt sheets: 1 red, 1 orange, 1 dark yellow, 1 brown, 1 green, 1 white
- A small ball of fiber-fill (or you could use scraps of felt, or even a handful of cotton balls if you don’t want to buy filling just for this tiny project)
- Embroidery floss. I used 1 skein of red, 1 skein of medium gold ( I used it on both the orange and the pear ornaments for a slight contrast, but also to make the ornaments look like more of a set), 1 skein of blue. ( I could have easily made 3 or 4 ornaments out of a single skein. The variety of color was so that I could use different colors on different shapes.)
- Buttons (optional)
- Embroidery needle
- Ornament Template (Click on this link to download the free template.)
Feel free to switch up your colors! Do what works for you. You can make your fruit as colorful as you want, and your threads can coordinate or contrast… it’s up to you.
To begin with, I printed out my template, cut the shapes apart, but not fully out, then pinned the shapes to the felt, cutting out 2 layers at once. Each ornament will need two pieces cut of the main shape. For the orange, apple, and pear, you will need one leaf, and for the apple and pear, you will also need one stem piece. Honestly, it probably would have been easier to cut out the shapes, and then using some kind of marker, traced the shapes onto the felt, cutting just inside of the lines. With the paper pinned to the felt, it becomes stiff and bulky, and a little more difficult to deal with while cutting. But pinning did work.
To make the pear, cut out two pear pieces, one leaf, and one stem. Cut a length of embroidery floss that is roughly half the length of your arm span. Thread the needle, and knot your thread Stack the two pear pieces together, and separate just near the bottom of the pear shape. Insert the needle through one layer of the fabric so that the knot will be on the inside of the project. Then start to whip stitch the pear shut, until you get near the top of the pear.
When you get to the top of the pear, set your needle and thread down, and insert the leaf and stem (overlapped) into the top of the pear. (You could insert them earlier and pin them in place, but it’s such a small project, and you’d be more likely to get stuck by the pin, so you’d be best off leaving it out until you are ready to stitch it into place. Make a stitch through all four layers of the pear. My thread was “whipped” around to the backside between the leaf and the stem. Continue stitching, making sure to keep your stitching as even as possible. When you get near the bottom of the pear, stop stitching when you have a small opening of about 1- 1 1/2″. Take a small ball of fiberfill (or scrap fabric or cotton balls), and gently fill the pear. You do not want to fill this very full at all. You are just trying to create a little bit of a bulge. Continue stitching until you reach your first stitch, overlapping your first and last stitches. Bring the needle out between the two layers of felt, and knot off your thread. (I’ll show how I add a loop for hanging your ornaments later.
For the orange, cut out two circles and one leaf, and cut out the thread as described above, knot, and thread your needle. Take one of your orange circles, and start making a few knots on one side of the orange. This will sort of mimic the look of the dimples in an orange peel. You can do this to both circles if you want, or skip this step altogether. The number of knots you make will be up to you. I made 6 knots near one edge. To make the knots, you bring the threaded needle through the back side to the front so that you do not have any thread tails on the outside of your ornament. Then, right where you brought the thread through the felt, place your needle near the exit point, and wrap the embroidery floss around the needle two or three times. Pull tight, making sure to guide the knot so that it stays right next to the fabric. Insert the needle back down through the felt, right next to the knot, and then choose where you want your second knot, and bring the needle back through to the top side. Make as many knots as you want. Keep the knots at least 1/4″ away from the edge of the circle.
After you have completed your knots, stack your two layers together. If you have enough remaining length of thread to complete the stitching on the orange, pull your thread out from between the two layers. Bring the needle around to the back side of the orange (the side furthest from your knots), and bring the needle and thread through both layers of felt, roughly 1/4″ from the edge. The distance you choose will be your stitch depth. Mine was roughly 1/4″. Do NOT pull your thread all of the way through, but leave a loop, and hook your needle through the loop, and pull snug, but without making the fabric pucker. Proceed to make a blanket stitch around the perimeter of the circle, pausing wherever you want to attach your leaf. For me, that was somewhere above, but offset to the knots. Insert the leaf, deep enough so that you can catch the leaf as you make your next blanket stitch. Go through all three layers (front of orange, leaf, back of orange), and continue stitching. The bar that you create while making the stitch can either get mad in front or back of the leaf, I made mine in front of. It is kind of difficult to explain that process of catching the leaf and stitching it in. It is only tacked on by a single stitch, so don’t overthink it. If you weren’t able to accomplish sewing your leaf or stems in on the fruit pieces, you should be able to tuck them into the fruit, and come back later with a standard needle and thread in a matching color to tack them in place, or you should be able to glue them in place using craft glue (hot glue might work, but “school glue” will not hold permanently on felt).
Continue with the blanket stitch until you have a small opening, fill with a small ball of fiberfill, and finish stitching shut, overlapping your first and last stitches. Knot off in the same way as with the pear.
For the apple, cut out two apple pieces, one stem, and one leaf. For this ornament, I used the running stitch. Follow the same process as with the other ornaments. Knotted thread should start between layers. Stitch until you are ready to tuck in the leaf and stem, catching them as you stitch, and continuing until you have a small opening for adding the fill. Stuff, then stitch shut, overlapping final stitches, and bringing your needle out between layers and knotting.
For the star, I also used the blanket stitch, but I sewed on a few buttons first. This is something optional you can do. My red button looks pink in the pictures but is actually a maroon color. Sew the buttons to one side of the star. Stack the two layers together, and follow the above steps for filling the star. I started my stitching on the inside angle of one of the arms and worked my way around the star. Keep your stitches perpendicular to the arms of the star, so your inside corner stitches have a very small bar, and there are two stitches angling away from each other. Reference the pictures for a better understanding. Near the point of each star, I had two stitches, one on each side of the arm, nearly touching each other where they come into the star. The bar cut across the tip, and when I was done, I trimmed the tips off of the star so that they were slightly blunted or rounded.
Making the Loops:
To create loops for hanging your ornaments, you need a lenght of embroidery floss that is roughly 10-15″. At the top of your ornament, bring the needle through so that you have roughly half of the floss on either side of the ornament. Remove the needle. Holding both strings together, create a knot somewhere around 3″ from the top of the ornament. Trim the excess thread, and your ornament is complete! You could make your loops all the same color, or use the same floss you did for the stitching of that ornament (that’s what I did). The nice thing about adding the loop is that it will give you another chance to hook your leaf and stem, anchoring them in place.
This is really a very easy project to complete, and they took me less than 10 minutes to sew (keep in mind that I’m experienced, for those of you that are beginners). And since it is such an inexpensive project, you can practice making these for something like $0.25 each. Let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to change up the colors used, swap out stitches used on the different fruits, and add different embellishments!
Are you enjoying these handmade projects? If you want to work on other homemade, handmade projects for Christmas, I would highly recommend joining me in the Handmade Christmas Gift Boot Camp (you can read more about my involvement in that here). There are recipes for cookies and breads, directions for a potholder mitt, a how-to for soap, tinted lip balm, and so much more. The price of the boot camp goes up tomorrow from $39.97 to $49.97. The video library will be yours to access until September 30th, 2018, and there are downloadable instructions for each of the projects. There are currently 18 videos in the library, plus 3 bonus video, and more to come. You also get access to the Facebook group where you can ask questions to the teachers and share your progress and receive encouragement from the rest of the group. Check out this link to find out more!
Please, let me know if you have questions about the ornaments or the boot camp. And if you missed yesterday’s post on gift ideas for the sewist, you can check that out here.
P.S. Did you miss the other posts in our series? Are you looking for one of the others? Here they are!