Thursday, November 17, 2011

Easy pieced wreath: free pattern and tutorial

We've been dying to use our fabric stash to make a festive wreath.  We looked at many methods, including tying fabric strips to a wire frame, but we were put off by these words of wisdom:  "You will tie and tie for days and days".... and: "I got blisters on my fingers from the fabric when I tied it" (see where beauty meets function).  So we asked ourselves: why not stitch the strips together, then simply wrap them around the wreath?  After some trial and error we came up with this easy pattern that produces a beautiful, full wreath. The bow is built in, and the wreath itself can be re-used (the fabric strips can be removed for storage !)

This wreath has fabric all the way around, so it can be admired from both sides of a glass door.

It also looks great on the front door:

This wreath is a great stash-buster.  It can be as scrappy or as coordinated as you wish !

You will need:
-One 12-inch floral styrofoam wreath such as from Michael's ($4 with coupon).  One manufacturer is FloraCraft.  Other brands and styles will work but may require more or less fabric depending on the thickness of the ring.
-Dark green fabric for backbone strips (approx. 1 fat quarter - FQ)
-Hot pink fabric for bow (we used a 10" x 21" piece from 1 FQ)
-Assorted fabrics for cross-strips: approx. 1-3/4 to 2 yards (7-8 FQ)
-Rotary cutter and 24" cutting mat; 6" x 24" quilting ruler
-T-pins to attach the strips to the wreath

Step 1. Backbone strips: Cut the dark green fat quarter into 1.5" wide strips (you will need 9-10 strips that are ~21" long):

Step 2. Cross-strips:  Cut the assorted fabrics into 1.5" wide strips, then cross-cut so the strips are 3.5" long*.  To save time, you can cut a stack of 3-4 fabrics as long as your rotary blade is sharp (*use caution*!)  We first cut the 1.5" wide strips without separating them, then simply rotated the cutting mat and made a second set of cuts every 3.5 inches:

Here are the strips from the six fabrics we used.  We selected dark, medium and light value fabrics to give the wreath some interest. We used two FQ of the dark green, turquoise and purple, and one FQ of the others. We included some spotty white fabrics that looked like snow:

Step 3. Stitch the cross strips to the backbones: Place one dark green backbone strip in the sewing machine and take a few stitches down the middle of the strip to hold it in place (see second photo below).  Start adding cross strips as follows: fold one cross-strip in half lengthwise to make a 3/4" wide strip and pinch it in the middle.  Then layer another cross-strip on top and fold it in half lengthwise. We found it easiest to fold and stack the strips flat on the table, then pinch them together as shown below. (Note:  you can click on any of the pictures to expand them and see the detail).

Center the stacked cross strips on the backbone and take a few stitches down the middle.  Continue folding and adding cross-strips to the backbone strip, one right after another, as shown in the photos below.  You should not need to raise and lower the presser foot as long as you take only a few stitches before you add the next set of strips:

You can use chain piecing if you wish by starting on the next backbone without lifting the needle.  Each backbone will hold about 26 stacked cross strips.  It will take a little time to sew the strips - but not days !  It goes fairly quickly, and soon you will have a tantalizing collection of fluffy strips, at which point you will start to imagine all sorts of decor possibilities in addition to the wreath. Garlands, conical trees, jars filled with fabric, and wall hangings come to mind.

Step 4Make the bow: Before you finish stitching all the strips, attach the bow "strings" and bow to one of the backbone strips, about 6" from the end. First, cut the hot pink fabric into one 8" x 21" strip and one 2" x 21" strip.  Fold the 8" wide strip in fourths, lengthwise, making an accordion fold as shown below (first fold the strip in half lengthwise with right sides together; then fold back the raw edges.) This will become the "strings" for the bow:

Then fold the 2" wide strip to make a flat bow.  We've provided a free bow template in a pdf file (download here).  The bow looks like this:

Attach the bow "strings" and bow to one of the backbone strips, about 6" from the end.  First, center the bow strings on the backbone, then layer the flat bow on top of the strings and stitch down the middle, stitching through all layers. 

When you are done stitching the bow, continue stitching cross pieces onto the backbone.

Step 5.  Assemble the wreath: Start with the strip that has the bow.  Center the bow on the front of the wreath form and pin it in place temporarily with a t-pin:

Then start wrapping the strip around the wreath, pushing the bow and cross-strips to the left as you wrap the strip to the right: 

When have finished wrapping this strip, secure the end with a t-pin (you can tuck the t-pin underneath a cross strip so that it does not show).  Also wrap and pin the left end of the strip behind the bow  (once both ends are secured, you can remove the pin from the bow.) Keep pinning and wrapping strips around the wreath, one after another, until the entire form is covered.  Hint: If you wrap slowly, an inch or two at a time, it will be easy to push aside the cross strips so they do not get caught underneath the strip you are wrapping.  When you have gone all the way around the wreath, cut off any extra strips.  We used about 9.5 strips for our finished wreath.  Fluff the wreath with your fingers, straightening out any crumpled strips. 

Having completed this project, here's what we love about this method:

-The wreath looks very professional.
-It uses about the same amount of fabric as other methods.  There is little or no wastage.
-It takes only a few hours, not days. No blisters !  
-It is perfect not only for scraps and remnants, but also for pre-cuts such as honey buns - and, with minor modifications, jelly roll strips.
-After the holidays the fabric strips can be unpinned and stored in a box until next year.  The wreath form can then be used to make another Easy Pieced Wreath.
-It was so much fun, and so easy, that we want to make another one ! We're thinking white, with a pink or red bow, for Valentine's Day. 

~Enjoy your wreath and have a very happy holiday season ! ~

*Note:  Through trial and error we discovered that 3.5" is the right length for cross strips for a 12" wreath.  Strips that are 3" long are too short.  Strips that are 5" long look too long on a 12" wreath, but would be great for a 14" wreath.  Also:  our 12" over-the-door wreath hanger was a little too short for this size wreath.  We used a loop of wire to attach the wreath to the hanger.


  1. What a wonderful wreath and a great tutorial. Thanks!

  2. Truly a quilting inspirational. I love a vintage look and I think it would be beautiful using Fig Tree Quilts Butterscotch and Roses, but then again the batiks are great because of the depth of variety of the greens batiks. Also that you for the clear and detailed tutorial showing how it is done.

  3. Genius! I've been wanting to make a wreath like this but comments about time and sore fingers put me off. I want to try this with a variety of different fabrics -- thanks so much for the tutorial.

  4. You do such a great job with your tutorials! This looks like a great project, one that I hope to try this year (sure do have enough scraps in the stash bin!) Thanks again,

  5. Quilt inspiration indeed! What a great idea -- thanks for figuring it out and sharing it.

  6. What a great Christmas craft; I look for new ideas each year to freshen up the decorations and this is fabulous.

  7. thanks ! this is the best looking wreath from fabric strips I have seen and I'm going to make it ! thanks !

  8. Fabulous Wreath. Can't wait to try it. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Thanks to all for stopping by and for your lovely comments !

  10. This is fabulous, I'm going to give it a try. I could only get a 14 inch wreath and I see you say 5" strips work on that size. Did you need many more backbone strips? Thanks :)

  11. looks fun and quite different from the ones I've made in the past. Thanks for a great tutorial, Sharyn


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