I love paper-chains. There’s something so wonderfully old school Christmas about them isn’t there. It’s partly the rustle as you thread another loop through and partly the fun of standing up to reveal a long looping garland from the puddle of paper on the floor in front of you. They are the decorations of primary school, made with sticky glittery fingers on dark afternoons that smell of satsumas, or the budget choice at university for smothering the JCR in the festive spirit. I’ve made some most years that we’ve lived here and then piled them into the Christmas boxes on twelfth night along with the tinsel and the garlands. But there is a problem with paper chains and boxes, somehow, however carefully you coil them in they always come out a bit squished. There has to be another way.
I think the answer, as with so many crafting conundrums, is felt. It’s soft and flexible so it won’t get too squished, but has the rigidity needed to hold a nice loop shape. Perfect. And I’m clearly not the only one that thinks so; I saw the felt chain project in the last Mollie Makes and loved it; delicate shades of felt, intricate waste canvas embroidery and secured at each end by a pair of tiny metal press studs; it’s serenely beautiful and if I were to start it we’d be lucky to have three loops by Easter. What I wanted was something a little faster, and something that my small very excited Christmas helpers could get involved in too.
And here they are. Decorated with glitter glue and held together with velcro they’re sparkly and colourful and warm and everything you could want in a paper chain.
So if you need a little something for a cold afternoon over the festive period, with the added bonus of making everything sparkly and bright at the end of it, read on.
For about 12′ of chain you will need:
- Four A4 sheets of felt. We choose red, blue, turquoise and white with silver stars all over it.
- Glitter glue in as many different colours as you like.
- Self-adhesive velcro tape. Really strong velcro dots might work, I just happened to have lots of velcro tape to hand.
I also used my sewing machine and my cutting board, quilting ruler and rotary cutter but you could quite happily substitute needle and thread for the former and a ruler and a pair of scissors for the latter.
We started with the felt, and this is where the girls really came into their own, drizzling, swirling and splatting all over.
I found the best way to get good coverage was to decorate the whole sheet and then fold it in half as if you were doing a butterfly painting, press it gently with your hands and then open it up and let it dry. Even simple patterns like horizontal squiggles look really effective when overlaid on top of each other.
Then once it’s dry grab your velcro tape. Place the felt in front of you in landscape (wider than it is taller) and apply the hook tape (that’s the scratchy one) across the top of the decorated side.
Then turn it over horizontally (as if you were turning the pages of a book) and apply the eye tape to the bottom of the plain side. (NB it doesn’t matter if you get the tape the other way around just as long as you have tape at top and bottom, one on the patterned side, one on the plain).
Then using the old needle leftover from your previous project that you haven’t taken out of the sewing machine yet (I refuse to believe it’s just me that only changes needles (a) at the start of a new project and (b) if I remember), sew a line of stitching straight down the middle of each band of velcro tape. The glue on the velcro tape may make your needle a bit gunky and you might find you have to give it a quick wipe with a bit of scrap fabric every now and then. Alternatively, take a needle and thread and sew a nice line of backstitch down the middle.
If your velcro tape or dots is really really sticky you might be able to skip this step but I found that a lot of our prototypes worked really well to start with and then we’d come downstairs to find that the chain had ‘melted’ overnight when the velcro detached from the felt.
Then using either a quilting ruler and rotary cutter or just good old ruler, pen and scissors, cut your felt into inch wide strips so that you have a bit of velcro tape at top and bottom of each strip.
And there you have it, a pile of glittery paper chains just waiting to be strung together.
And when the time comes to tuck Christmas away again for another year I’ll be able to unvelcro all of my chains and stack them in a neat little pile, ready and waiting for next year.