crafts, holidays, sewing, tutorials

A WildCards tutorial: Loopy-Loo Holiday Garland

When I left home for college, my mom gave me a box of old holiday decorations. A few ornaments, some Santa knick-knacks, and a charming strand of Christmas-tree garland made from bright red yarn. The garland was handmade by my mom. She was in college herself when she made it. As I rummaged through the box, she explained how she had made the garland all those years ago.

Although a competent sewist, my mom never had a passion for it. (Her passion is abstract painting. Rebel.) So I was happy to inherit something sewn by her hand, as it was quite rare. And every year since I received the garland, it’s been on my Christmas tree. This year it has accented some of our favorite ornaments that we’ve collected over the years…

Loopy-Loo-1Our honeymoon ornament.

Loopy-Loo-2Our “we used to live in Washington, and it was cool” ornament.

Loopy-Loo-3And our first “Baby’s first Christmas” ornament.

But the past four years? The garland has been getting harder and harder to drape. I’ve been draping the garland around the tree to form the illusion of one continuous strand. But in reality, it looks more like this:

Loopy-Loo-4 The garland has broken into so many pieces I can’t even count them anymore. So this year, I decided to try my hand at sewing a new garland. I wasn’t sure what I would end up with, but I remembered the simple technique that mom shared with me.

Hmm. Things went better than I expected. I like how this new, vintage-vibe garland turned out! I felt confident enough about it, even, that I thought I could teach someone else how to do it. So holy happy holidays, here we go!

LoopyLoo Holiday Garland Tutorial

Here’s what you need:
Loopy-Loo-6Poster board. A pen or pencil. An acrylic ruler. A rotary cutter with a blade for paper only and a rotary mat (or scissors). Tape. Thread to match your yarn. And yarn.

Note: You do not need ONE POUND of yarn. One skein is plenty for a garland that will wrap and drape and then wrap some more around your tree. Or your mantle. Or your door. Or wherever you plan to drape and wrap.

One more note: When it comes to yarn and knitting, I love using natural fibers. But in this case, I suggest using acrylic yarn. Natural fibers tend to break more easily, and we want garland that will last at least as long as my mom's garland did. That would be close to 40 years.

Wow. Yeah, just did the math. That is freakin' old garland!

Here’s what you do:
Using your ruler, draw lines parallel to the short edge of the poster board, spacing them 1 3/4" apart.

Loopy-Loo-8Cut the poster board into strips, following the drawn lines.

Note: For me, each strip yielded about three feet of garland. So do the math—don’t do like I did and cut up the entire posterboard. It’s unlikely you’ll need it. I can’t imagine anyone would want that much garland for anything, ever.

Loopy-Loo-9Tape the yarn to one short end of a poster board strip.

Loopy-Loo-10Begin wrapping the yarn around the strip.

You can wrap the yarn one of two ways: 1) Let your right hand wrap the yarn while your left hand holds the paper steady; or 2) Let your right hand hold the yarn steady while your left hand turns the strip around and around. (Switch those lefts and rights around for lefties.) I did a little bit of both.

Loopy-Loo-11The strip should look something like this when you’re done. Leave 1" to 1 1/2" at the end of your strip unwrapped. Do not cut the yarn.

Loopy-Loo-12Sew along the center of the poster board strip using a very short straight stitch—as short as you can get without sewing in place. Here we are at the beginning of the strip…

…and here we are at the end. Backstitch well at the beginning and end.

Loopy-Loo-14Tape a second strip to the first strip.

Loopy-Loo-15Begin wrapping the yarn again.

Wrap the yarn to cover the second strip within 1" to 1 1/2" from the edge. When you are done wrapping, tape the yarn to the strip to prevent unraveling. Sew along the center of the second strip, making sure to backstitch over your previous stitching when you begin.

Now you have this long, gangly, double strip of posterboard. Time to take out the paper! You can do this one of two ways:

1) Cut the yarn along the long edges of the strip; then gently pull the paper away from the center seam. I’m guessing this is easier than what I did (and it’s what my mom did too).

2) Keep the loops in the yarn by ripping and wiggling the paper strips out of the loops a little bit at a time. More time consuming for sure, but I like the effect. Here’s how I did the ripping and wiggling:

Fold the strip in half lengthwise along the seam to further perforate the paper.

Fold it in the other direction, too.

Loopy-Loo-18Tear the paper to the sewn seam at 1" to 2" intervals. Pull a few loops off the edges of the paper so you can get a good grasp on it.

Loopy-Loo-19Gently wriggle the paper out.

Loopy-Loo-20After lots of wriggling, it will start to look like this.

Note: You can remove the paper from the yarn almost up to the point where the second strip ends. But leave a couple inches of the sewn yarn and paper intact; you’ll need it to tape, wrap, and sew the next length of garland.

Continue taping, wrapping, and sewing until you have the length of garland you want. I used four strips and it made about 12 feet of garland.

I had planned to set up some fun shots of the garland in holiday action, but GOSH DANG IT if my boys couldn’t keep their mitts out of the bowl ‘o beads:

Loopy-Loo-21Big mitts.

Loopy-Loo-22Little mitts.

Love those mitts.

And also, beads are messy.

I would love to make my mom’s bits of garland into something new. Any ideas? I’ll be thinking…

Loopy-Loo-23 Happy holidays, crafties!

11 thoughts on “A WildCards tutorial: Loopy-Loo Holiday Garland”

  1. Love this idea, I kept commenting this past Christmas how I need new garland as my 10 yr old Big Lots garland has bit the dust lol, I think I might do this for this years Christmas and might do like Suezie said and use a sparkly yarn. FYI I’m pinning this on Pinterest where I came across it 😀


  2. Isn’t it always the simplest (and old favourite) ideas that work best. If you used a spangly, sparkly wool you could have a pretty cool kinda tinsel garland too. Love thius idea and soooo love you and your sweet mom for sharing it. Christmas just ins’t Christmas without homemade 🙂 Blessings


  3. Aw I really love this garland! And I love that you tried to recreate your mom’s lovely work as well! I will definitely be earmarking this page so I can make this for my tree next year… I love handmade things!!! :o)


  4. That is the PERFECT idea. I get to keep the scraps and still show them off, and show them off ON THE TREE (that’s what was stumping me). Thank you so much for sharing your idea with me, hope you had a great Christmas!


  5. Honey, I am so proud and excited to have been featured on your blog! I love the new garland you came up with and I like it even better than the one I did. I love how creative and imaginative you are.
    See you soon! Mom


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