Today I really needed a fun, can’t-possibly-fail project. I’ve kind of failed my crochet final exam. The sweater I gushed about only a day or so ago is going to have to sit for a while until I get up the determination to rip out the front panels and redo them. When any craft project goes bad, it’s a little depressing. That sweater was a BIG project, and my hopes at “succeeding” at crochet kind of hinged on it, so it was more disheartening than a botched dress or something.
I also felt like a very boring mom this week, and particularly today. We missed story time yet again at the library because I was too tired to drag us out of the house on time. After watching the same episode of Barney twice on Netflix after lunch, I decided an outing was in order. The boy and I headed downtown to celebrate National Coffee Day with a strong cup of iced coffee for me.
Coffee and some time spent away from the house improved the day. We had a bit of time to waste before picking up Taylor, so we headed to Hobby Lobby for supplies for a project I’ve been mulling over in my brain for a week or so. I saw a string of felt pumpkins at TJ Maxx that spelled Happy Thanksgiving, and I thought it was a cute idea. I’ve had the same strings of paper hearts hanging in the house since Valentines Day (love is always in season, right?) that I haven’t wanted to take down, but I’m in a very autumn-y mood now. So that was the inspiration.
The felt selection at Hobby Lobby was a little blah, as always. Just extremely bright acrylic sheets. I wish they carried wool felt. It occurred to me that fleece could be an even nicer option, though. We found pretty orange and green fleece that was super cozy and exciting for Jacob, who loves soft blankets.
As I waited in the pickup line at school, the garland idea continued to evolve from the one I saw at the store. You see, the kids have been really looking forward to carving and decorating pumpkins for weeks now. They’re always drawing them and talking about it. We’re definitely going to carve pumpkins, but it’s still a bit early if we want them to be with us until Halloween. So rather than spelling something, maybe we could decorate these fleece pumpkins with jack-o-lantern faces.
The whole project was a hit. I explained it to Taylor on the way home and she was immediately thrilled about it. As I cut out pumpkin shapes, she drew up designs for how she would decorate her fleece pumpkins. So even during the parts the kids couldn’t directly help with, they were caught up in the spirit of the project and having fun! I haven’t attempted many crafts so far that they could help with. Clearly, from today’s experience, I should do it more often.
First, I traced pumpkin shapes onto the fleece. I didn’t know where my fabric ink pens were, so I used a sharpie that almost matched the fabric. That way, when I cut it out, if any marker remained on the fleece, you couldn’t really see it.
Then, I just folded the fleece over and cut along the line, creating two identical pieces. Fun and easy was the goal of this project, so I didn’t stress about being very precise here.
The stems were cut the same way – fleece doubled over. I cut them a little long so that I’d have room to tuck them into the pumpkin when I sewed it shut.
And I just kept going until I felt like stopping! The kids had fun commenting about the different funny shapes that I drew. I didn’t look at pumpkin pictures, and I didn’t trace one pumpkin to make another. I figured that pumpkins are often oddly shaped in real life, so there was no need to stress about making my fleece pumpkins perfect either.
I thought about getting out embroidery floss and sewing these things with a real blanket stitch. But then I quickly realized how terribly boring that would be! I’d almost rather go rip out that crochet sweater than hand sew ten little pumpkins closed. So I tried out the blanket stitch on my sewing machine, and it did a very adequate job. You can see in the photo what the stitch looks like. If you don’t have an option like that, a zig zag stitch would be cute too. In the spirit of making this an easy project, I basically wanted to avoid typical pillow construction where you sew the whole thing inside out and then turn it right side out with the seams inside. That would require hand sewing the openings for stuffing closed, and that’s a lot of work. So we’re going with intentionally showing all seams here and making it look cute.
The stems were quick and easy to sew, and I tossed them to the kids as I finished them. Their little fingers were perfect for getting stuffing down in those skinny stems.
Then, starting at the bottom, I sewed in orange thread around the pumpkin shapes, tucking in the stems as I reached the tops. After a bit of experimenting, I found that leaving the opening for stuffing at the bottom, rather than by the stem, resulted in a better final product. The fleece stretched a bit when the kids stuffed it, and the flat part at the bottoms seemed to show it the least.
As with the stems, they had tons of fun stuffing the ten little pumpkins. They were able to do it completely without my help. And they were actually helping me, not just keeping busy, so you could tell that they felt a big sense of accomplishment and involvement.
Then I just sewed up the bottoms with the same blanket stitch, and we had a cute little pumpkin patch! This weekend, we’ll be figuring out the best way to add faces and string them all together. I have a feeling it’ll be hard for Jacob to wait for Taylor to get home to get started.