Today I’m going a bit nuts with a mash up of 3 of my favourite things.
We have pom poms, tassels and an upcycle - all together in the same project!
Plus it’s Christmas - whoo hoo!
This all started with my inability to throw away anything that I think might be useful one day. It’s both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is I can often produce something just right for a make without having to go to the shops. The curse bit is storing it all!
One of the things that looks eminently useful to me is cotton reels or thread spools as I know some people call them. I just can’t bring myself to throw them away; they just look too useful.
Back in the day they were beautiful wooden things and now-a-days they are just boring and un-eco friendly plastic. Surely the fact they are plastic now means it’s even more important to find a way to reuse them rather than sending them to landfill. I use them a lot for ribbon storage. I once wrote about my unruly ribbon stash and the ways I try to keep it under control.
When the kids were little we used them as a threading toy or with building blocks for making towers etc. However the kids are all grown up and I sew a lot so now I just have a box full of them, time I got busy and made them into some Christmas ornaments.
To make something similar you will need:
Wool or yarn scraps to make your pom poms and tassels
Cotton reels / thread spools
Scraps of patterned paper
Beads and buttons
Glue, scissors, needle
For me this was about using what I already have, but I do realise that not everyone is like me, with boxes of saved broken jewellery, jars of old buttons, tons of paper scraps and bags full of little bits of left over yarn. So you can buy all these kind of supplies in any craft store, online or maybe even pick some bits up from a Charity shop or Thrift store.
Once you have your supplies you can put them together however takes your fancy. I’ll go through what I did for this traditional Christmassy looking one.
First make a tassel. This is super easy.
Wrap yarn around your hand, it’s easier to remove if you stretch your fingers out like I have in the photo. (the colour balance appears to be WAY off in this photo - my hands look super red!) Around 15 times is about right.
Remove the loop from your fingers and take a long length of yarn - 30” or 75cm. Thread this long length through one end of your loop and tie a knot, tie again to make it secure. DO NOT trim off the long length - you’ll need it later.
Now take a shorter length of contrast yarn - 10” or 25cm is plenty and tie that round a short distance from the end of the loop (the end your are working on)
Wrap the contrast yarn around and around the loop tightly. This is easier if you flip the loop round and hold it by the end with the long yarn. If you do it the other way the yarn you are wrapping will get all tangled in your long length.
Tie the ends of the contrast yarn together again. I like to thread them onto a needle at this point and the ‘loose’ them in the wrapped bit, but you could just snip them off close after doing a double knot.
Trim the other end of the tassel.
For this ornament I also used a little red pom pom. It’s about 4cm or 1.5” in diameter. There are a few ways to make a little pom pom. I have some lovely little pom pom makers; a gift from one of the kids last birthday :-) Pom pom makers like this make it easy and quick to make pom poms. Alternatively you can make them over your hand - there is a great tutorial for that here: This is a quick method but you do waste quite a bit of yarn as they need a lot of trimming afterwards. Or you can go old school and use 2 card rings, this method does take a while though!
Lastly you want to prepare your old cotton reel or thread spool. I removed any old labels and then cut a strip of patterned paper to fit round the reel.
I tried to glue my paper to the reel with micro glue dots but the paper was just a little too thick and so it sprung back a little at the overlap. I fixed this with a little bit of pva. You could use a strip of festive washi tape instead, in fact you could cover the reel with washi tape if that’s what you have. I think the micro dots would work just fine with a thinner paper, or you could just stick with a pva or Mod Podge.
I also covered the top and bottom of the reel with circles of paper. It turned out to be a complete waste of time as you can’t see either, and as fate would have it I didn’t take any photos of that process either! If you want to it’s not rocket science, just cut two circles and glue them to the reel, do make holes in the centre for the threading in a moment though!
Now you have all the elements you can assemble your decoration.
Thread your needle onto that long length you used to make the tassel and start threading your elements on. Any order you like, just play around with them. You can always take them off and start again if it doesn’t look quite right. When you get to the buttons just separate your 2 strands of yarn and thread one though each button hole. If your buttons have 4 holes just use 2 of them.
To finish just tie a knot at the end of the thread for hanging. You can finally trim the long threads a little at this point if you need to.
Of course you don’t need to stick to traditional reds and greens, next I had fun with some brighter colour combos.
Here you can see I mixed things up a bit, one ornament has a cotton reel and no pom pom, the other a pom pom and no cotton reel. It was fun just to gather a load of elements in different colours and just play around with them.
I especially love this orange bead, it’s been in my stash for ages, waiting for the perfect thing for it to end up on.
As well as looking pretty on the tree, you could hang these on door handles or turn them into curtain tiebacks, they’d be lovely as gift toppers too.
So much fun to make and I’ve made a dent in my plastic cotton reel stash, now I just need to think what to make with the rest of them!
I’ll be sharing this idea over at these link ups