Monday, March 17, 2014

Tutorial: Polka Dot Garland

My twin girl's second birthday party is coming up next month, so it's time to start making everything I can ahead of time!  We decided to do a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic themed party for the both of them because they like the show (and I'm not going to lie... I do, too!  It's one of those kid shows that I don't cringe when they ask to watch it - if you have small kids, you know what I mean).  I've also been having a small obsession with garlands and bunting lately.  They are so cute and so easy to make!  This is my first time sewing card stock, but it was really satisfying and a lot of fun, and makes a cool swoosh swoosh sound when you sew, haha.

For this project you will need:  Card stock
                                               Sewing machine
                                               Hole punch

This is a project an absolute beginner can do!  Plus it's pretty cheap.  You can use any color of card stock, ribbon and thread, and cut your paper in any shape, too.  I decided to do a rainbow of colors, nine in total to help the red blend in with the purple where they met.  I used blue thread and ribbon, to make this garland a complete tribute to Rainbow Dash, the pony!

After you choose your card stock, ribbon and thread, there are a few options to cut your paper.  The most obvious (and tedious) would be doing it by hand.  Ugh... and who has time for that?  If you do, more power to you!  However, I chose the "I have three kids and limited time" approach, and used my Silhouette Portrait.  If you haven't ever heard of this machine, it is a lifesaver!  Make an image on your computer, it'll cut it out!  It also has a print/cut ability if you own a printer.

  I simply programmed my Silhouette to cut a dozen two-inch circles per color, as many as would fit on the sheet.  If you don't have a fancy-pants Silhouette, you can always purchase a nesting circle punch, which comes in a variety of sizes.  It's pretty much a giant hole punch... and usually less than $10.  You can also purchase pre-cut shapes in some scrapbooking stores, or online. 

After cutting all your circles out, I like to arrange them in the pattern I will be sewing them in.  It makes for faster, neater work in my opinion.  You can see the nine colors I chose, plus my little Rainbow Dash doll I had to borrow from Lexi for party inspiration (she's such a helper).  I cut enough circles for 18 feet of garland.  I prefer the garland with no thread left between the circles, so I just had to add the diameter of each circle together for the total length.  Easy!

On your first circle, you'll start sewing at the center.  This will leave room for you to add a hole punch and ribbon for tying your garland to things for hanging later.  Your first and last circles are the only ones that will be done this way, all other circles are sewn completely through!  

It took a little bit of trial-and-error to figure out tension.  With my machine, and heavy textured card stock, I had to put my tension all they way to 1 to get nice, neat stitches.  You'll have to do a little bit of messing about with your own machine to make sure you don't have loopy loose stitches.  I suggest using some extra card stock you have lying around so you don't mess up your circles!

When you get to the end of your first circle, simple place the next circle right up next to the first under the presser foot.  I found no need to lift the foot for every circle, they simply slid nicely underneath.  Be sure you do not overlap the circles, though!  Your garland won't be able to swish about freely, and instead will be more like a long, thin piece of dot paper... we want it to swoosh!  Also, if you are unlike me and like some thread between each dot, simply pull a bit on your dot when you get to the end of the circle so you have some extra thread out before placing the next dot.  Either way, just repeat sewing through the circles, and adding your dots until they are all used up! 

 Don't forget to only sew half way through your last dot! Trim the excess thread off the first and last dots, then use your hole punch on them.  I cut about one foot of ribbon per each side, then tied a slip knot through each hole with the ribbon I cut.  This way, you won't have to stick pins or place tape on your garland ever, and you will be able to simply tie it where you need it.

My cat loved this project.  I did not love the cat so much his enthusiasm.  Here's the garland as it was being sewn, and...

Completed!  It's currently hanging in the twin's bedroom until party day, so the kids and cat can't get to it.  They all so love to shred paper, and it would be a shame to lose it after all that work!  It's pretty cute in there, too.  I may make it a permanent decoration after the party.

In all, this is an easy easy project anyone can do!  It makes for a cute, quick and professional-looking decoration and adds a little fun.  

On a side note:  Any one notice my new machine?! I'm so excited about it.  My old machine (a Singer 7043 Imperial, made in the 80's and given to me by my grandmother a few years back) decided to blow up in my face - literally.  A big bang, a sad whine, and she was kaput.  So, I have been wanting to upgrade to a machine that was more quilting friendly and had a few embroidery options and this was the perfect excuse!

I stuck with Singer, and ended up with a Singer 9100 Professional.  I'm extremely happy with it so far!  It took a bit of getting used to, it seems so much more sensitive than my old machine, but with a little bit of "getting to know you", I'll have this machine tamed in no time!

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