Happy holly leaf wreath

I found this sweet book in the library last week. It is a really nice little one full of little festive makes children could manage. My child is still quite small though and not really able to stitch yet, but she likes to glue, and luckily there  a lovely little project i thought might be a good one for us to tackle together – a festive fabric wreath.

I did the preparation myself – first cutting out a card ring for the base using a tea plate and a mug as templates. Then cutting out some holly leaf shapes from all my green fabrics (i have a bit of a surplus of green at the moment, for a little secret christmas present project) I cut out five leaves from each of 4 different shades of green cotton, some green felt and some grey cotton.

Then it was time to get toddler involved! i mixed up some PVA glue with water to make it runnier, and gave this to Rose in a little tub. She dipped the leaves in and ‘arranged’ them around the ring (i might have helped a teeny bit with the arrangement – but only a teeny bit). It was quite a good idea to soak the leaves like this as it was easy for Rose to manage – she got the idea really quickly – and the leaves all stuck well. And it also meant that when it dried the fabric had a starched quality. The only problem i found was where we tried this with the felt leaves they were just a bit heavy and needed an extra gluing with normal strength glue afterwards.

Next i made some little baubles for the wreath. I used some brightly coloured fabric scraps and cut out circles of varying sizes (i drew these freehand so they are a little wonky). I layered some of the fabrics on top of each other, gluing them with the same watered down glue mixture as we used on our leaves, and embellished them a little with some buttons and a few stitches.

Lastly i taped a loop of ribbon to the back so that i could hang our little wreath up near our christmas tree. It’s so pretty, i am proud of Rose and my good work on this little project.

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Our Autumn Leaf Lantern

Rose really enjoys walking about our little town, and her newest favourite pastime is picking up leaves we find on the way. She is quite discerning, and not just any old leaf goes into her little yellow bucket, so i thought it would be nice to do something with her little collections.

collecting autumn leaves 98376855-4582-46D1-98BD-A51FB69F2943 766F3329-E1C4-4002-B8FF-5534046903DC E8FBF6CC-2DFF-48BB-A48B-723746F87FC8

I read about a festival called St Martin’s day. It falls on 11th November and is less known in the UK being overshadowed by rememberance day, but in europe is known as a sort of harvest festival. It seems to be celebrated in various ways across europe, from feasts to lantern processions. In Germany children carry their own handmade paper lanterns through the streets i found one example of a lady who had made lanterns with her child using the autumn leaves they had collected. I loved her lantern so much i really wanted to give it a go. A perfect project for Rose and I to try.

There is a perfect guide in the link above, but read on if you want to see what we did.

autumn leaves

(i apologise in advance for the lack of photographs in this post – Rose chewed the memory card from my camera this morning and so my lantern photos are a gonna! arrrgh! Luckily there were a few phone photos to save (or at least help redeem) the day!)

What we used:

our collection of autumn leaves
some newspaper and heavy books (for pressing)
greaseproof paper
an empty dairylea box
PVA glue, scissors, a pencil, a tape measure
a little bit of lace to trim (optional)

The first step was to press our leaves by laying them between sheets of newspaper a few sheets deep and placing heavy books on top. I left mine for about 24 hours, and it gave them a nice flat appearance to help give our lantern a smooth finish.

Next I measured around my cheese box and added about 1.5cm and used this number to cut a length of grease proof paper (mine was 36.5cm in total) The other lanterns I had seen used white grease proof paper but i decided to just use the brown stuff I already had. I quite liked the effect of it though.

The next step was to fold the paper in half lengthwise to make a crease down the centre. And then time for some glueing! To start we just wanted to paint one half of our paper with the glue. I think this was Rose’s favourite bit! We then worked together to arrange the leaves over the glued area. Rose struggled a little as she usually likes to layer her stickers over the top of one another, but this didn’t work with the leaves. She was very open to my suggestions though and our finished arrangement looked rather grand.

We then painted the other half of the paper with glue and i folded it over to make a leaf sandwich. While the glue was still wet i wrapped the paper around the cheese box and glued the overlapped edge (i used a little masking tape to hold it in place until it dried). I think that the glue was still wet inside the paper helped the paper take to the curved lantern shape.

I cut out the middle of one of the cheese box halves and glued these to top and bottom inside the lantern to help stabilise it. And just for a final finishing touch i added a little bit of old lace trim.

autumn leaf lantern in the dark autumn leaf lantern

I am not sure that  paper is the best material for a lantern, so i put my candle in a jar first – but maybe these are best for outdoor use – or perhaps with fairy lights would be better. I think it would also be a nice technique for making a little window hanging to let the sun shine through.

Happy St. Martins Day! xx