It's already March, which means spring is right around the corner. Here in Sacramento it felt like spring had already arrived back in February, so I was feeling pretty weird about still having autumn/winter decor in our living room, especially the fall colored bunting that I sewed back in October.
Solution: A Spring Garland!
project bags last month to help me reduce my fabric stash in preparation for our move. This was one of my bags, and I used scraps that I had left over from a few projects to create this polka dot garland. It took me two days to cut everything and sew it all together, but if you get an earlier start than I did I'm sure you could do it in one!
I was inspired by this Valentines garland, but I didn't stiffen the fabrics so they don't have as much dimensionality. Instead, my polka dots are relaxed and give our living room a beachy feel.
This project is pretty easy: all you need is a little bit of fabric and a basic knowledge of a sewing machine. You can even sew the dots by hand and attach them to a ribbon, bias tape, or yarn if you don't have a machine.
So here is a quick little how-to.
- 1/2 yard of "ribbon fabric" (this is the fabric that will run the length of the banner)
- 120 sq. in. or 12x10 cut of 6 different coordinating fabrics (referred to as A, B, C, D, E, and F)
- Scratch paper
- A sewing machine [or just a sewing needle if you forgo the ribbon making process and do the rest by hand]
- Scissors and optionally a rotary cutter and cutting mat
1. Start off by cutting some paper pattern pieces. The garland is made up of concentric circle polka dots, so cut out paper circles in three sizes, each a little smaller than the other. My largest circle was about 3.5 inches in diameter, then 3 in, and 2.5.
Use a mug, cup, or jar to trace your circles onto the paper.
2. Cutting the dots.
Trace your pattern pieces onto the wrong side of fabric and cut out circles.
If you are using 3.5 in. circles, a 132 in. ribbon, and 1 in spacing like I did you will need 26 dot groups and 78 dots total.
You can use whatever fabric groupings you like, but if you want really specific directions this next part is for you.
Here is how many circles I cut in each fabric:
- Fabric A and B:
- 5 large dots
- 4 medium dots
- 4 small dots
- Fabric C and D:
- 4 large dots
- 5 medium dots
- 4 small dots
- Fabric E and F:
- 4 large dots
- 4 medium dots
- 5 small dots
Make sure you have a cat to oversee your work:
3. Now the fun part: arrange your dots into groupings you like.
Play around with different placements and orders. I also oriented the fabrics differently on the dots: the checks are sometimes at a diagonal and sometimes straight up and down.
Take each dot and sew down the center of the smallest dot, making sure to lock your stitches. Try to avoid sewing over the edge of the inner circle, otherwise your fabric might bunch up and cause a big mess with your machine. Trim excess thread.
This was, apart from the cutting of the circles, the most time consuming step. Do it systematically, moving finished pieces to a new surface so you don't miss any.
If you followed my count, there should be 26 sewn dots!
5. Making the ribbon.
****Note: I did this along the grain (weft, or width wise). You can use bias tape or cut along the bias, but it might give some unwanted stretch. For me this project was all about working with scraps and what I have.****
I measured out three 2-in. wide strips of fabric and my fabric was 44 in. wide, giving me a total length of about 132 in.
Mark and cut 2-in. wide strips along the width of fabric. Use a rotary cutter if you have one, a pair of scissors and a steady hand, or...
...snip it and rip it, if that is your preferred method.
Sew ends together and trim excess thread.
Press seams out so they look like so:
Now you should have one long ribbon. Here's what to do with the raw ends:
Fold them over and press. Then sew in ends:
The next part can be done in parts as I describe or all at once. I find it comes out better in two steps, though.
Go through the length of your fabric and press it in half.
Then go back and press each half in half so that the raw edges are facing in like so:
Now you should have a nice long 1/2 in wide ribbon on which to sew your polka dots:
Ignore my linty ironing board.
6. Attaching the dots.
Go through and pin your polka dots to the ribbon, about an in. apart from each other, making sure to tuck them inside the opening. I left about 7 in. at either end of the ribbon.
7. Now sew along the length of the ribbon, being sure to take out pins as you go so we don't have any broken needles or injured eyes from flying pin fragments.
Et voilà! A lovely Polka Dot Garland.
Use solid fall colored felt for the polka dots and yarn in place of ribbon for a festive autumn garland.
Christmas colored felt or Christmas patterns for polka dots sewed to a festive velvet ribbon.
Cut and glue paper polka dots in fun patterns of card stock. Punch holes at tops and tie to a length of twine or yarn.