I saw a paper garland on the Original Pop up Shop, London. It had book page print, bauble design, colored string. All so good together. I set my mind to making such a garland.
I have a French language copy of War and Peace, found for $1 at a junk shop a few years back. It has a broken spine, but nice quality old paper, tinged slightly yellow. French words. Ooo la la. Nice to cut up for collages and—as luck would have it—Christmas garlands.
I made mine with two sizes of dots—to be different from theirs which was all a single size—but also to make the garland even more baubley and festive.
In one morning I made five 6-foot garlands. That’s when I ran out of steam. But I plan to make more when the steam is properly restored with some cookies and cocoa.
I used a Fiskars punch-style paper cutter that makes a 1″ dot (and could cut through 4 pages at a time), and a Fiskars rotary paper cutter to make 2.5″ dots (this cutter can be set to many sizes for any dimension, I found I could cut two pages at a time and cut three dots per book page.)
With the rotary cutter you will want to have a cutting mat underneath so the paper doesn’t move around and cause you to blurt unholiday-like expletives while cutting.
Alternative: you can use scissors if you have patience and don’t mind irregular circles (but if you are hand cutting, get creative: cut stars!).
Old book or color copies of book pages
Tear away paper stabilizer (If you don’t have this and can’t wait to start I’m guessing you could sew on kraft paper and rip it away afterward—it’s worth a try!)
Red, green and white thread
You will use at least 2 or 3-ply dots on your garland (at the end you fold them out to make ball shapes).
So….Cut many many little circles. With the punch tool you can do this in short order. I filled up a teacup and still have dots.
Cut a minimum of 12 big circles (mine were 2.5″) per garland (count on 5 or 6 big circles for a six foot garland, 2 ply) or 15-18 needed for 3 ply.
You will sew the dots onto the stabilizer, leaving stitch-only space between the dots (which will look like lovely twisted string when you tear away the stabilizer at the end).
Cut the stabilizer into 1″ wide strips and pin it together to the length you wish your garland to be (I did 6 feet per garland). Cut two 8″ strips of stabilizer 1/2″ wide and attach one piece at each end of your 6 foot strip of stabilizer. This represents where you will have stitches only at each end of the garland.
If you plan to make several garlands at once I suggest having all of your stabilizer lengths ready to go. Then you can just sew, sew, sew, and be very efficient so you can spend your time bedecking your world with these beauties.
Sew your garland:
Thread your machine with red or green thread on the spool and white thread on the bobbin. I did 3 red/white garlands and two green/white. See what you like. The thread will be twisted on the final garland like a candy cane.
Choose a medium-to-long straight stitch.
Start sewing on the 1/2″ section of stabilizer. When you get to the 1″ wide piece lay your first small dot (2 or 3 ply) and sew it down the middle. Keep stitching for an inch or inch and a half, then sew another stack of small dots, continue with similar spacing until you’ve sewn four small dot sets. Stitch some more spacing and sew on a big dot. Continue to the end. The garlands I made were patterned as four small, one big, four small, one big….etc….ending with four small and then finish by stitching the last piece of 1/2″ wide piece of stabilizer.
Cut your threads and make a knot at each end of the stabilizer. This keeps the threads beautifully twisted.
Prepare to tear away the stabilizer! After tearing five garlands, I came up with a pretty good technique. Hold the left side and gently tear off the right side along the stitching. At the paper dots, fold the dot toward the left and gently tear alongside the stitching. When you reach the end the other half of the stabilizer will be pretty easy to gently pull away.
Now go dot by dot and fold out the circles to make dimension along the garland. In the photo you can see several dot variations. The top large one is a three ply dot, the next had four dots, and the third had only two.
Hang on your tree, some branches in a bottle, a mirror, a mantle (well above your fire!), a window, over a child’s bed, from a pendant lamp, above your staircase, down from the ceiling beams…. You get the idea.