Upcycled Autumn Decorations

Written by Erin Ganzke
    Monday, 30 September 2019
Upcycled Autumn Decorations

Autumn is here and so is the craving for new fall decorations!

My grandmother and I share a love for crafting and taking on as many DIY (do-it-yourself) projects as we can. We especially enjoy projects involving the changing seasons and nature because we are always trying to bring nature inside to bring life into our homes and to our projects. In today’s world, it is easy to get wrapped up in the purchasing of new autumn decorations at the store every year because you have an autumn fever, but keep in mind that a materialistic mindset does not support a sustainable lifestyle.

Therefore, upcycling old materials into new ones can be a simple way to gain new decorations with a smaller cost to the environment.

My grandmother is a skilled sewer, so over the years, she has collected many different fabrics that otherwise would be scrapped. One of our favorite fall upcycling crafts to do together involves making pumpkins out of leftover fabric or old wool sweaters! This craft is our interpretation of the Fabric Pumpkin by McCalls Crafts. This craft is perfect for beginners and those who are less familiar with sewing!

To start, you will first need fabric. This material could be leftover from a previous project or an old sweater that you rediscovered in the back of your closet or picked up from Goodwill. The idea is to bring new life to old materials and reuse material that was otherwise useless and wasted. Once you have your fabric selected, you will want to cut your fabric to size. Feel free to adjust your lengths in order to make the pumpkin taller or shorter depending on your preference. The pumpkin I will be making is 9” x 23 ½”. McCalls Crafts Recommended Pumpkin Sizes: Small: 8” x 17” Medium: 10” x 19” Large: 12” x 21”.

pumpkin set1

Next, you will need a carpet thread and a small sewing needle. You will want to make a running stitch about a quarter inch from the edge along both of the long sides of the fabric. Make sure to leave about 1-2 inches of thread hanging off either end and to not go all the way to the ends with your running stitch.

pumpkin3 5

Now, you can fold your fabric so that the right side (pretty side) is on the inside and you match up the open ends. If you have a sewing machine, feel free to use it now to sew together the ends. If you are doing this by hand, you will want to prepare a needle and buttonhole thread with a knot to sew together the fabric. Make sure to avoid sewing in the existing stitches or tails when doing this because you will not want them caught in the stitch.

pumpkin set2 Recovered

Once we are left with a tube of fabric, we can pull the ends of one of the original running stitches. Make sure to pull gently on either end equally, as it can snap off or break (in which you will want to re-stitch it). Pull the ends until that portion of the pumpkin closes and tie the string in a double knot. You will want the pumpkin to close as tight as possible.

pumpkin set3

Invert your fabric, fill it with the stuffing of your choice (fiberfill), and pull the remaining running stitch ends on the open end until you have a closed pumpkin. Tie off the string and tuck it inside the pumpkin.

 pumpkin set4

In order to give your pumpkin some lines and grooves, prepare a larger needle and thread it with one knotted end. Feel free to use whatever thread you want or have laying around, but note that if it is thin, you should at least double it up so that it is stronger. Send the threaded needle through the bottom center of the pumpkin (make sure to catch fabric) and send it out the other end (again catch the fabric). Repeat this process and rotate around the pumpkin to your liking. Tie off the thread when you have enough texture.

Time to decorate! Collect sticks or branches from outside and using a pair of clippers, cut the branches into small stems for your pumpkin. I like to cut them on an angle to make the stem even more decorative. Then, I like to reuse fake plant leaves for the pumpkin leaves, so I collect a few of those. For additional decoration, you can soak jute in water (rope-like material), ring them out, wrap them around a wooden dowel, and bake them in the oven at 250 degrees with the door cracked until they dry out. Once they cool enough, unwind them from the dowel and cut them to your desired length.

IMG 9103

Fabric Pumpkin by McCalls Crafts

Erin Ganzke

Erin Ganzke

Erin Ganzke is the Visitor Services Specialist at the Washington Park Branch. She has her Masters of Science in Freshwater Science from UWM and started at the UEC as a Community Program Educator. Erin enjoys traveling, outdoor sports, and any excuse to get on a lake on her paddleboard.

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