Sunday, December 1, 2013

DIY Christmas Tree Bows From Re-purposed Materials

 These tree ribbons came out even cuter than I expected, and much better than my husband guessed when he saw the denim strips. He asked me skeptically if I really thought they would turn out to look good. Do you not know me? Silly!

I made two dozen of them and they give my tree the country-cozy feeling that I like in the fall. There is just something about denim on a Christmas tree that feels right to me. Add in the contrast of textures with the burlap and cotton muslin, the splash of red and natural grape vine and I just adore my little bows! Also, like many of my crafts, these were done for free using  materials I had on hand or found outside. You can come up with some creative combinations if you look around your own home to see what's available!

Old Jeans (adult sized)
Cotton Muslin
Scrap Yarn
Polished Hemp Cord
Salt Dough
Red Paint
Woody Tendrils (from a grape vine)
Glue gun and glue sticks

To start with, cut the pant legs off of your old jeans. It's best to use jeans that have good denim. Trim off the inside and outside seams as well as the cuffs, so that you have four wide strips of denim to use. Lengthwise, rip the jeans into two or three strips. Don't use scissors for this, the ripping helps with the fray.
Take a needle or your fingernail and pull out ten or so outside strands of thread, to make a 1/4 inch fray.

Finding the center of your strip, fold the sides in and under. Then fold the ends down, as shown in the photos. This can be tricky and takes a bit of practice.

 Slide a piece of scrap yarn into the center of the bow and tie it in place. Trim the ends of the yarn.
 Tear the cotton muslin into strips, 12" long and 1 1/2" wide. It's good if it looks a little rough, but trim the excess strings. You want it to look tattered but tidy.

Cut a swatch of burlap, 4 inches long and two inches wide, then cut a slit up the center of it.
 Shape the muslin into a bow as you did with the denim and tuck the burlap behind it. Use a foot long piece of hemp cord and wrap tightly around the two bows and the burlap. Leave four to five inches of cord at the top of the bow to become the hanger.
 Salt dough beads are super easy to make, and I found a recipe that I was able to make and then paint within minutes! Really! I was skeptical too, but I tried it and it worked.

That recipe is here:  Quickest Ever Salt Dough Recipe at Rainy Day Mum

I rolled the salt dough into tiny balls, about the size of blueberries. I did poke holes into them with a needle, thinking I would sew them to the bows which would have worked. But I realized I had new glue sticks so I didn't go that way.

I used enamel paint (and some gloves) to paint the "berries" bright red and dried them on craft paper.
 I know that not everyone has a boat-load of grape vine growing in their backyard, you can probably find these dried woody tendrils at your local craft store (look in the silk or dry flower section). Otherwise, you might be able to buy them online. If you can't find them anywhere, a good substitute would be dark metal wire, twisted and wrapped into curly-Q's.
 I pushed the ends of the grape vine tendrils underneath the cord and used a daub of hot glue to simultaneously secure the tendrils into place and glue the red berries to the front of the bow.

Had I not had glue sticks, I would have used a carpet needle and upholstery thread to sew the beads on and secure the tendrils.
 I strongly resisted the urge to add a glittery element, a touch of gold would have made these even better. But I wanted to keep them as organic and natural as possible.

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