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There’s something special about homemade Christmas ornaments – they have more personality than a factory-made bauble from a big box store! Plus, there are so many different types of ornaments you can make yourself. This project is for 3D paper Christmas ornaments that are fun and inexpensive to create. The tutorial uses upcycled book pages, but you could also use scrapbook paper or magazine/catalogue pages. I happened to have a pre-release working copy of a book that has now been published for 4 years, so I didn’t feel bad about cutting it up! This tutorial does need a sewing machine, but it requires only the most basic sewing skills – if can depress the machine’s pedal for a few seconds, you’re good to go.
Before we get started, I’d like to apologize for the tutorial photos. I just moved on Monday and I don’t have any of my old backgrounds, light-bouncing foam board, etc. anymore and I’m still figuring out where the light is best for pictures where I’m living now! Consequently, these photos are not as nice as I’d like, but I think they still get the point across.
Materials needed for paper ornaments
- A book or at least 10 sheets of other paper
- A straight edge
- An Exacto knife
- Ornament patterns (provided below)
- A pencil
- A sewing machine + thread
- Acrylic matte clear coat spray (optional)
Paper ornament patterns
Please feel free to use my ball, bell, and star patterns, if you’d like. You can also make your own patterns, just make sure to think about the finished ornament when you’re creating the patterns. Some shapes make sense for this project, but others do not. The finished product is in the round, so a gingerbread man might look pretty weird. On the other hand, a snowman or Christmas tree would make a fantastic 3D ornament.
How to make paper ornaments
1. If you’re using a book, you need to remove a handful of pages. Based on my experience, I recommend at least 10 pages. You can use more for a more full ornament, but make sure your sewing machine can handle the number of pages you choose. I have a heavy duty machine that can handle two dozen pages, but the examples show ornaments made with 10 pages to show the results from a standard-weight machine. To remove the pages:
- Open your book and place a straight edge along the interior, as shown below.
- Hold the straight edge in place and cut along it with your Exacto knife to remove the pages.
- Repeat this process as necessary to remove the number of pages you need.
2. Use a binder clip or two to hold the pages together.
3. Print and cut out your ornament patterns.
4. Arrange the patterns on your pages and then trace them with a pencil.
5. Fold each pattern in half, place them back on their respective outlines, and then trace a straight line along the folded edge to divide the outline in half.
6. Sew down the center line on each outline. Make sure to begin and end within the traced outline or the ornament will end up looking funny! Also, make sure you leave a couple inches of thread hanging free and untrimmed at the top of each ornament.
7. Once all ornaments are sewn, cut carefully along the outlines, making sure not to cut through the stitching.
8. Trim any excess thread from the bottom of each ornament and knot the upper thread to create a loop for hanging the ornament.
9. Fold open the pages until you’re satisfied with the way each ornament looks. I folded the top 5 pages on each side towards me along the stitched line and then turned the ornament over to fold the remaining 5 pages on each side towards me again. Then I adjusted the page positions, as necessary.
10. If you’d like to protect your ornaments and make them a little more durable, treat them with a coat of clear acrylic spray, such as Mod Podge or Krylon spray, and allow them to dry before hanging them.
11. Enjoy your new upcycled ornaments or give them as a gift!
As a note of caution – paper dulls scissors and needles. Whatever needle you choose to use for this project will be dulled if you make more than a couple of them. Luckily, sewing machine needles are easy to come by, just remember that you may need to replace the needle before you next serious sewing project!
Have you ever made paper ornaments before? What’s your favorite type of homemade ornament?
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