Felt Holly Garland
This is our first year living in a home we actually own, so I wanted to make some special Christmas decorations. I think I may have been a bit too ambitious. I had planned on making four different garlands, but really only had time to get around to finishing two. I have the supplies for the others, so perhaps they can be post-Christmas projects for next year. Anyway, the ones that I did get around to finishing came out really great, even if I did sustain a few rather painful glue gun-related injuries (hot glue will burn your skin off, FYI. BE CAREFUL.)
They were both fairly easy and inexpensive to make but crafter beware the more elaborate of the two was VERY time consuming. This post I’ll focus on the easy one that anyone could still whip up in time for the holidays. Here’s the finished result!
For this project all you need is some felt, yarn, and felted wool balls. The felt and the yarn are easy enough to come by, but for the balls you’ll need to either buy them online or make your own. I opted to make my own. I’ll show you the basics here, but I advise watching a few videos and reading tutorials online to learn more.
To felt wool balls, you’ll need warm/hot water, dish soap, wool (sold at most craft stores), and a towel because this gets messy. Learn more about the setup here.
Start by pulling apart a small portion of wool from the larger bundle. It takes some trial and error to figure out how much you need to make a certain size of ball. Once you’ve pulled out some wool, separate the fibers a bit and form it into a rough spherical shape. Get the ball a bit wet and start shaping it into a ball by rubbing it between your hands VERY LIGHTLY. Do not push down hard on the felt. It will make it lumpy.
Once you’ve got a rough ball shape, you can get the whole thing wet with soapy, hot water. Then comes the tedious part. Keep on rolling the ball, adding more pressure as it gets smaller and smaller. You may need to rinse the felt ball or re-wet it while you’re shaping it. This is a mid-process photo.
After several minutes of rolling, I ended up with this tiny little ball of felt. This process is not especially hard, but it does take a toll on the hands and it requires a fair amount of experimentation to get right. You can read as many guides as you want, but you’ll have to figure it out a through trial and error to develop your own method. When you’ve got a firm little ball, rinse it and let it dry.
The next step is to cut out your holly leaves. I just cut mine freehand, but you could use a pattern and a fabric pen if you want them all to be the same. I liked the variance in size and shape, as it makes it look more natural. Entirely up to you. One critical factor is to cut an extra long stem on the felt leaves. This will allow room for them to be attached to the yarn.
Once you have your leaves cut out, you can prepare the yarn. If you want to keep things basic, you can go with a single strand. I braided three strands together for a thicker look. Again, it’s up to you to decide how you want it to look. Once you figure it out and prepare the yarn, you’ll need to cut small slits in the felt leaves so they can be attached. The easiest way to do this is to fold over the stem, then make a small cut that will give plenty of room for movement once it’s unfolded.
I then used small pieces of yarn to tie the leaves onto the longer piece. If you’d like, you could simply string them all in place, too. I used this method, however, so that I could tie several stacked leaves together. This method works pretty well to give it a more natural look, and is helped by putting together a couple of small and large leaves.
Once the leaves are tied into the place, you can add the berries. I simply hot glued these into place, adding them in groups of two and three at the bases of the leaves.
And that’s it! You have a pretty felt garland. There’s a lot of room for variation on this garland. You could cut different shapes of leaves, use other colors, or, well, pretty much anything you want. I pictured it in our bedroom, but I ended up putting in the master bath for just a little Christmas festive spirit in there when I’m getting ready in the morning.
That’s it! Other than making the felt balls, it’s pretty darn easy.