One of my favorite family traditions is our Christmas Ornament Exchange every Thanksgiving. We make DIY ornaments throughout the year, and pass them out after Thanksgiving dinner.
Now that we are older and we all live across the United States, it’s an even more important tradition! Everyone makes their DIY ornaments, and mails them in. I love having a tree full of sentimental ornaments versus store-bought ornaments. It’s also fun to see how creative everyone can be.
That being said, every year mine tend to fall apart…
But not this year! I was determined to make something that would last. Earlier this year, I decided I was going to make Christmas Sweater ornaments, but was totally intimidated to sew them. I made these super easy sweaters, and if I can make them, I promise you can, too! If you’re here for technical terminology and high-level sewing instructions, I’m gonna be honest, I don’t have them! These are Level: B.E.G.I.N.N.E.R.
What you’ll need for these DIY ornaments:
Fabric: I used anti-pill fleece in cream and gray, but you can use felt, too. You want a nice soft fabric that won’t fray when you cut it. To make 14 ornaments, I bought a yard of each color (it was on sale for super cheap) and had a lot left over! Keep in mind you’ll need two sweater cutouts per ornament. My ornaments were only about 3″ tall, and maybe 6 wide. I would personally rather have a lot leftover than not enough, and with a Joann’s coupon, you don’t have to spend a lot on fabric.
Buttons: The buttons I used were from Michaels. They have an entire aisle dedicated to unique buttons, so I grabbed 5 bags of my favorite. Again, I have some leftover, but I liked being able to mix and match the buttons to make different variations of the sweaters. The stars I used were actually stickers found in the $1 section of Michaels!
Scissors: You’ll want very sharp fabric scissors! The fleece wouldn’t even cut with my old scissors, so I bought these.
Thread + a Needle: I purchased a multi-color pack of thread that came with a few needles. This way I could try to match the thread to my fleece for the outside stitching, and to the buttons I was using.
Cardstock: You’ll want to cut out a sweater stencil to make the same shape every time. This sweater cookie cutter would be good, too!
Floral Wire: I wanted to add hangers to my sweaters, and floral wire was just flexible enough, but also sturdy.
Wire Cutters: To cut the floral wire.
Draw a sweater shape on your cardstock. When you make one that you’re happy with, cut it out!
Trace your cardstock stencil onto your fabric. (I used a regular pen, but if you can cut it out without drawing on the fabric, that’s best. You might end up with pen lines, otherwise). You will need 2 sweater cutouts per ornament.
Layout your buttons on a flat surface. Once you decide on a design, start to sew the buttons onto one of your sweater cutouts.
To sew: Thread your needle (it’s much easier if you have the metal threader tool). To use the tool, slide the metal loop through the eye of your needle. Stick your thread through the metal loop, making sure to leave a long tail of thread so it doesn’t fall out of the loop. Next, pull the metal loop back through the eye to remove it. This will bring your thread through the eye of the needle along with the tool. Voila!
Since we will sew the second cutout onto the back, no need to make your stitches pretty.
To sew: Hold your button where you’d like it. Starting from the back of the fabric, thread your needle through one of the holes of your button. Pull your needle through the front (giving yourself enough slack, but don’t pull the thread all the way through). Then thread your needle through a different button hole from the front. Continue a few times until you feel the button is secure. When your needle is in the back of the sweater cutout (where we started), knot the thread using the tail from the beginning. I knotted a few times for good measure.
When your buttons are all in place, you’re ready to sew the back cutout to the top cutout.
Make sure the top cutout has the buttons facing you. Next, perfectly line up the back cutout to the front (TIP: if your stencil wasn’t perfectly symmetrical, try flipping the back cutout around, and it should match up with your top cutout).
Using a thread that matches your fabric (or doesn’t, up to you!), start in the corner where the collar meets the shoulder. You’ll want to thread from the back like we did with the buttons. Pull your needle through to the front, and give yourself a ton of slack! You’ll want the length of the thread you pull through to be enough to go all the way around the sweater.
Next, wrap your needle and thread around the edge of the fabric sticking the needle in exactly the same place in the back, pulling through the front. Thread your needle through the loop you just created to add a knot. Do this a few times until it’s secure. Try to hold the newly created knot as close to the fabric as you can while you bring your needle through the loop. This will keep you from getting knots in your thread where you don’t want them.
Next we will do the same thing: With your needle and thread through the front of the sweater, wrap them around to the back. This time, instead of coming back through the exact same hole we started with, move forward a little bit. Like I said, this was not a very technical project, so I just went enough until I thought it looked good. You’ll want to try and keep the distance between the stitches consistent, so just don’t go too far. I’d say I went about 1/8″. Once you decide on your distance from your initial hole, stick the needle and thread through the sweater from back to front, making sure your two pieces of fabric stay lined up.
Continue looping your thread around the edge, sewing the fabric together from back to front.
Do this all the way around your sweater until you reach the opposite corner where the collar meets the shoulder.
You want to leave the neck of the sweater open so we can add a hanger. So once you reach that corner of the collar opposite from where you started, make a knot with the thread (see step 4).
Cut your thread once you have created a sturdy-enough knot! Try to cut as close to the knot as possible without undoing it.
For the Hanger:
Unwrap a few inches of wire from the spool and cut.
Measure the width of the sweater so you know how big to make the hanger. You don’t want it to be too wide, but if it’s too short the hanger will fall out.
Once measured and cut:
Based on your measurement, bend the wire into the shape of a hanger. When you’re satisfied with the base shape, cross the ends of your wire.
Twist the ends of your wire a few times.
Then you’ll cut the shorter end of the wire, and tuck in the sharp end so it doesn’t scratch anyone. Next, form the hook of the hanger, and cut any excess wire off.
Stick your hanger through the collar of your sweater.
To keep it secure, sew a few loops around the wire and sweater together. I did this in the corner where the collar meets the shoulder, where our sewing starts and ends!
To hang these on the tree, I just looped some thread through the opening of the hanger and tied it at the top.
If you want to turn these into a kid’s craft project, just sew together the sweaters (without buttons). You can give kids stickers and paint to design their own sweaters! Hang them on the tree, or give them away as presents!
You could also use these as gift tags.
Once you get in a groove, it doesn’t take very long to sew them together. In fact, my least favorite part was cutting them out! It can be almost therapeutic to sew them together – just turn on the tv and zone out. (But don’t stab your fingers).
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