There’s nothing quite like Christmas crafts to help inspire a little festivity. Learn how to upcycle old fabric scraps and crochet baubles with our Head of Sustainable Fashion and Textiles’, Charlotte Turner, DIY guide for decking out your Christmas tree.
As the Christmas season approaches, there are a multitude of ways to make beautiful decorations using unsuspecting materials and even waste that’s inevitably lying around the house. These woolly crochet baubles not only will add a cosiness to your Christmas tree, but also are an opportunity to utilise any fabric scraps you have left in your sewing box.
If this looks a bit daunting, or you are a novice crocheter, the same principle can be used to make baubles and other decorations from small pieces or strips of waste fabric and any stuffing you can find. Whether that’s a ripped T-shirt cut into fabric strips for weaving, or beyond repair holey tights or socks for stuffing (washed of course!). You can weave them, or simply make ‘parcels’ using a square of fabric filled with scraps and tied at the top.
You Will Need:
Wool or any other yarn to crochet outside of the bauble. If you have small lengths of leftover wool you can join them together and end up with a fun multicoloured version, or if you’re feeling advanced you could even create a polka dot effect. Note: you can use any weight of yarn but it will affect the size of your bauble – thinner/lighter yarn will create a smaller bauble, and thicker/heavier yarn will create a bigger one. These examples are made with Woolmark merino wool, British wool, alpaca and cotton yarns.
Leftover ribbon or string for the loop. These examples use the same yarn as the bauble itself (as you can create a loop with the tail end from your crochet). Another great option is the string that is used to attach garment labels to new clothes (we recommend always saving these as they can also be used to attach gift tags to gifts).
Scraps for stuffing. These examples use fabric offcuts and waste thread from sewing which should always be saved (many textile banks have restrictions on the size of fabric scraps that can be recycled, and we don’t need more fabric in landfill). If you don’t have sewing scraps you could use any available alternative – from a beyond repair item of clothing, or (clean!) holey socks or ripped tights. Or even some of that pesky plastic packaging that’s probably lying around. Note – you will need more stuffing than you think to create a solid bauble.
You could even include some dried cloves or other Christmassy herbs in the stuffing for scented versions, which make the perfect homemade Christmas gift.
Crochet hook. These baubles used a size 4.5mm hook (for the thinner yarn) and 5mm hook (for the thicker yarn). The bigger the hook, the looser the crochet and therefore the bigger the bauble – you can go even bigger if you want. 6mm is recommended for beginners and heavier yarn. If you choose to weave instead you won’t need a crochet hook.
Stitch marker. Though a normal safety pin works fine here, the best option is to save the rounded pins that are usually found on garment tags – another handy thing to save.
Large darning needle to finish the bauble and attach the loop.
You will need to make a ball by crocheting in the round – a process that is used to create toys or ‘amigurumi’ – so once you have mastered this technique you can crochet practically anything. There are many online tutorials for learning how to crochet in the round out there but the standard pattern you will use is below. If you want to learn to crochet with demonstrations, workshops are a great and sociable way to do this – and a perfect gift to do together. We recommend the Hook a Monster workshop in London, but there are lots more out there too.
If you are new to crochet, it’s recommended to practice some flat crochet first to master stitches and tension. You will use the chain method to start, then the single crochet technique and will need to increase stitches, decrease stitches, and fasten off.
First collect and prepare your supplies. If you want to use fabric strips instead of yarn (for crochet or weaving), cut these into thin lengths (between 3-10mm will work well). If using t-shirt yarn, it will twist itself up which is fine.
- Start your crochet – make sure you place your stitch marker at the end of your rows so you don’t lose count.
- Make a slip knot and chain one stitch.
- Round 1: Work in six single crochets to the chain stitch.
- R2: Increase 6 times (make two single crochets in each previous stitch). You should end up with 12 stitches.
- R3: (single stitch, increase) 6 times. You should end up with 18 stitches.
- R4:(single stitch, single stitch, increase) 6 times. You should end up with 24 stitches.
- R5, R6, R7: Complete three rounds of single crochets.
- R8: (single stitch, single stitch, decrease) 6 times. You should end up with 18 stitches.
- R9: (single stitch, decrease) 6 times. You should end up with 12 stitches.
- Stuff bauble. Add your stuffing right up to the top. You should pack it in tightly to create a perfect spherical shape. Add any scented additions around the outside and top so the scent comes through.
- R10: Decrease 6 times. You should end up with 6 stitches.
- Fasten off.
- Close the top by using your darning needle to feed the tail end of yarn through the outside of the loops.
- Add your hanging loop. You can use the tail end of your crochet yarn to do this, or tie / stitch on a new loop.
Keep your Christmas tree as sustainable as possible, swapping out glitter-covered decorations and plastic tinsel for these woolly ornaments, that not only offer the chance for a little mindfull crafting in the run up to the holiday season, but also are an opportunity to fill your home with plastic-free and natural materials.
Got the crafting bug? Try your hand at more homemade Christmas craft ideas.
Make sure to source your Christmas tree as sustainably as possible this year.