As part of my drive to get more crafty in 2014 I intend to bring you a selection of things to make and do at home, hopefully at least one a month. I reason that if I post these projects on my website then I’ve got license to spend the time making said things out of all the stuff I have saved and stashed around the house over the years… not easy for me to justify in a world where I am working every snatched hour that I have away from the child. But yes, I want to use my hands, and I want to hand craft things like everyone else I write about, even if the outcome is not as polished and perfect.
First up is my DIY Valentine’s Day Hanging Heart Decoration, a delicate light weight mobile to hang up in the house at this time of year, or to gift your loved one. This was inspired by a hanging heart encrusted with buttons that I drooled over in a relative’s house over Christmas, which I looked at and thought ‘I am sure I can do that myself’. My only worry was what kind of wire to use; something solid enough to keep its shape, yet pliable enough to bend. Fortunately pinterest came to the rescue and I discovered that old wire coat hangers make the perfect base: we have plenty of those around the house, often broken. I also have lots of fabric scraps and ribbon remnants, and plenty of beads, plus some very narrow gauge wire. And so my idea was born. Here’s how I made my decoration, modelled above by Snarfle.
You will need: a wire coat hanger, fabric scraps or ribbon remnants, small seed beads, sequins or similar, 0.4mm or 26 gauge wire (easily available from ebay or craft shops) Lindt chocolate bunny bells and hearts.
1. Cut the hanging curve off your coat hanger (unless you want to use it to hang your final decoration, in which case invert the following instructions) – the twisted part will become the base of your heart. Bend your coat hanger into a heart shape by pulling out the sides so that they are smooth and pushing the centre inwards. Don’t worry too much if you don’t get a smooth shape – I didn’t. It won’t matter too much as long as you get the general shape right, because you can cover up unsightly lumps and bumps with fabric. You will need to apply a certain amount of brute force, but it is surprisingly (and satisfyingly) easy to reshape a wire coat hanger. The size of this heart is dictated by the wire coat hanger (it’s large) but I like that this decoration makes use of something that would otherwise be thrown away.
2. Cover up the sharp base of your heart shape with a few layers of masking tape, so your decoration doesn’t spike someone if it falls. Select a variety of fabric scraps or ribbon remnants and start wrapping them around the coat hanger, working outwards from the base. I used a selection of ribbons that I have collected from various presents and chocolate boxes over the years. Tie the second one to the first one and so on until you have covered the whole coat hanger, and finish off by rewrapping and tightening up your first ribbon or scrap with the last one. I made a feature of the ties, but you could tuck them in for a smoother appearance.
3. Thread your Lindt bunny hearts and bells evenly on both sides of the heart (or you could attach whatever you fancy really, it’s just that I seem to have collected an awful lot of these). You can check the mobile is balanced by placing the centre – where the hanging thread will be attached – on the tip of your finger. Now if you are minimalist you could stop here… or you could keep adding to your hanging heart decoration, which is what I did.
4. Use your 0.4mm gauge wire to encrust the heart with whatever you like. I decided to use some little quartz seed beads and holographic red and pink sequins that I found in my hoard. I used wire lengths of approximately 40cm so that I didn’t get in too much of a tangle, cutting another length when needed. Wrap the wire tightly around the base a few times to secure it and then thread on a bead or sequin before wrapping it around again. Every now and again thread a bead away from the main shape and then twist the wire together below it. This is a technique commonly used for making tiaras: read more about how to do this here – it’s very easy and quick to do. When you get to the end of each section make sure to wrap the wire around the base a few times tightly again. The wire works well to keep the main fabric or ribbon in place, particularly at the base, and at the points where you have attached Lindt bells. Just before you finish be sure to check that the weight of the heart is balanced on both sides, as detailed above.
Eh voila, attach a ribbon to the centre, and you are done. It doesn’t get much more simple, does it? Why not make one yourself and spread the love with a hand made touch this Valentine’s Day. If you haven’t got time to make your own gift this year, then do check in with my selection of gift ideas by some of my favourite designer makers, right here.
- Craft: let’s make a mobile!
- Craft: christmas decorations.
- Kate Slater
- Craft: Make your own Christmas cards
- The Clothes Off Your Back