A couple of readers recently messaged me asking how I made the little felt mushrooms that are featured on the banner for my blog. Funny timing, because I was just gearing up to make a few more of them for the craft fair at the RAC. I have made quite a few of these since Christmas last year, and they take me a lot of time to do, so I am understandably a little burnt on cranking them out. The thought of making them for this year's fair never crossed my mind until Jill was on the phone with one of the organizers discussing our space. The lovely lady that bought some of them from me last year, who happens to work for the RAC, was in the background yelling,"More mushrooms!" Thusly, with such an enthusiastic request, I had to make at least a few for fun.
But these may be some of the last I make, and most definitely the last big grouping for a while, so I figured I would make a little tutorial so people can make their own. They would be great in Christmas colors as decorations, maybe with a loop of embroidery floss through the top for an ornament hanger, or in any color as a sweet little gift.
Eco-Felt (felt made from recycled plastic bottles), in a color of your choice.
Scrap of coordinating cotton fabric.
Contrasting embroidery floss.
Clean scrap paper, like newsprint.
A few vintage buttons.
1. I did not use a pattern to create these mushrooms, but I do like to use something to trace a circle for the top. Depending on how big you want your shroom to be, it could be a glue bottle, a coffee cup, or even a small saucer, who knows! For this tutorial I used a water bottle which makes a large mushroom.
Using a fabric marking pen (the kind that fades in 24 hours), trace your circle template onto the cotton fabric, cut it out, then lay it on top of the felt and cut out a matching circle.
2. I like to use three buttons per mushroom, but feel free to go crazy with it or even use felt dots or embroider a million French knots too. I like to attach my buttons with simple square knots.
3. Sandwich your felt and cotton circles with wrong sides together. Using the whole strand of embroidery floss (don't split it), blanket stitch them together until you only have about an inch left to go. I like to start the stitch from the inside to hide the knot easily.
4. Now comes the stuffing. Something interesting that I never really told anyone about my first batch of mushrooms was that they were actually intended as a political art statement. I never had a chance to tell people about the idea before I sold them at the fair, so I guess now is as good a time as any.
I stuffed the mushrooms with a torn and crumpled voter information sheet that I got with my voting materials that year. Get it? A bunch of fungus stuffed with political information? Yup.
But feel free to stuff yours with whatever you wish, maybe an old love letter or your driving test. Or plain old newspaper is fine, be sure it is lightweight so it doesn't get too lumpy.
I like to tear off little bits and crunch them up, then pack the circle with them until it looks how I want it. I stuff them with paper as opposed to batting because you can crunch and sculpt the edges of the cap so it is not poofy, in addition to the eco-ness of using recycled paper and the political-ness of the voter info pages. Also I like the way it feels under the felt, I dunno. Here it is before I squished it down a bit, and it is too poofy:
And here it is after I pressed the edges a bit:
Anywho, stuff it until you get the desired shape, then finish blanket stitching the opening and hide the knot by threading both leftover ends through the needle, putting the needle in between the layers of fabric and coming out somewhere in the middle of the cap, then pull it tight and snip off the excess:
5. When it comes to the stem, I like to freehand the shape. You could make it long and skinny or short and fat, whatever you like. I try to make them relatively proportionate to the top when it comes to length, and a bit on the skinny side, so they look like Shitake mushrooms. The shape I trace for the stem is a trapezoid like this:
6. Fold the stem in half lengthwise and blanket stitch it into a tube, and be sure to leave about 5-6 inches of floss at the beginning and end of the seam, for attaching the cap and bottom:
7. Now to cut out the bottom of the stem. Again I just eyeball it (each mushroom comes out different and special that way), so I look at the bigger opening and try to cut out a circle that will match it. You could trace it if you want but it is not necessary.
Use the remaining floss to attach the circle to the bottom of the stem and hide the knot.
8. Stuff the stem the same way you stuffed the top, using a pencil to push the bits down in. I like to crumple the papers in a longish shape to make them easier to fit inside. Roll the stem between your thumb and forefinger to smooth out any lumps. And make sure you stuff it pretty firmly all the way to the top so the cap will not flop around.
9. Use the floss hanging off the top of the stem to whip stitch it to the center of the cap. You don't have to blanket stitch this part because it is just too awkward. Just make sure it is tightly stitched and relatively neat, then hide that knot and you are done!
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