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Making a modern fall wreath

Using hoops, felt, embroidery floss and a few old buttons, Heather hand-stitched a modern fall wreath.
Using hoops, felt, embroidery floss and a few old buttons, Heather hand-stitched a modern fall wreath. - Heather Laura Clarke

As much as I love my sewing machine, I also like having hand-sewing projects to do while I’m watching TV.

I go through periods of quilting — especially in the winter when it’s snuggly to be sitting underneath my “work” — or sometimes I’ll knit hats and scarves. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of cross-stitch, and I got the idea for this latest project when I was surfing Pinterest for new ideas.

A wreath made from embroidery hoops? Genius. I stared at the photo for ages, trying to figure out how it was put together, but eventually had to watch a YouTube video. There was no real trick to it, just two regular wooden embroidery hoops that you can buy for a few bucks each at any craft or fabric store.

You just spread out your fabric and secure a small embroidery hoop in the centre. (I used a five-inch hoop.) Then you flip it over so you’re looking at the back of the hoop, and secure a larger hoop around it. (I used a 12-inch hoop.) It’s a little tricky to centre the larger hoop around the smaller one, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Now, be warned that this project isn’t really designed for cross-stitch. I tried using the stiff aida cloth with the tiny grid for making Xs, but it just didn’t cooperate with two hoops at once. So I used a piece of thin grey linen-like fabric I’d found in my stash, which tucked in smoothly, and decided to embroider rather than cross-stitch.

Once both hoops were snugly tightened, I trimmed the excess fabric around the edge and cut away the fabric in the middle of the small hoop. (You could definitely keep it there and stitch on it, but it wouldn’t have that “wreath” look.) Then I cut little notches around the tattered fabric edges so I could wrap them around and hot-glue them to the back to hide them.

I knew I wanted to make a fall-themed wreath, so I dug around in my felt drawer — I assume everyone has a well-stocked felt drawer? — and picked out charcoal grey, taupe, brown and deep purple. For embroidery floss, I used two different shades of orange, dark purple, teal, cream, brown and two different shades of green.

Instead of embroidering the entire thing from scratch, I thought I’d speed up the process by cutting out flower and leaf shapes and stitching them onto the wreath with contrasting embroidery floss. I even cut a flower out of burlap, and stitched on some random buttons here and there to add a different texture.

I hadn’t ever embroidered anything other than words, really, so I taught myself how to stitch leafy designs to go with my free-form swirls and wavy lines. I remembered how to do a chain stitch, but mostly I stuck with a simple running stitch. It was very soothing.

I was almost finished when I decided there was a blank area that needed one large statement flower. In a moment of weirdness, I remembered I’d just taken some dark purple lint out of the dryer (after pre-washing red and blue fabrics) and thought I’d experiment. I rolled the lint into tight balls and hot-glued them together to form a smushy flower shape. It looked like felted wool.

Start to finish, this wreath only took me about three hours. It was much easier than I’d imagined, and now I’m obsessed with the idea of making one for each season. Can’t you just picture a spring one with pastel colours on a pale pink background, and a winter one with snowflakes embroidered against navy? Gotta run — need more hoops.

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