By Jessica Wilson
A long time ago in a literary galaxy far, far away, I was a children’s bookseller extraordinaire. I ran an enormous department with very little display space for non-book items and found myself invaded with a plethora of plush toys and bath books. Our solution was a dozen or so clunky-chunky plastic chain links with heavy-duty plastic clothespins attached that anchored the plethora of plush toys and bath books in their spring-happy jaws. We hung the chains vertically to create as much display space as possible and in as pleasing a way possible, and I thought, “Man, if only these were quirkier…or you know, cute.”
So here you go, a decade or so later – my take on a nifty garland for storing and displaying your kiddos’ plush collection. The cool part is that you can color coordinate it to your liking, and your kiddos can help as well!
1 yard of fabric (scraps will work fine)
1 spool of ribbon
Tacky or fabric glue
10 or more wooden clothespins
Hanging hardware, screw hooks or eye hooks
Step 1: Set up a paint-friendly area and have your kiddos paint the clothespins. This can get super messy, so make sure they wear a smock or clothing that can get painted.
Step 2: Grab your ribbon and snip away a dozen or so pieces that measure 8″. Use a dab of tacky or fabric glue at the ends to create a party of looped pieces. Or, if your ribbon is wide, you can use your sewing machine and stitch them closed. Set aside.
Step 3: While your kiddos are painting away, gather your fabric. Your goal is to end up with three strips of fabric that measure 6″ x 60″. You can use one yard of fabric and cut or rip it into strips, or you can combine shorter strips from a variety of fabrics.
Step 4: Use a tape measure to mark 6″ intervals along the short edge of your of fabric. Tear or cut the fabric into long strips at these marks. None of my pieces measured the full 60″, but that’s okay – remember, we’ll be sewing these shorter pieces together to create long strips!
Step 5: Fold each strip in half lengthwise with the right sides facing out. (We’re going for a raw, stitch-heavy look here.) Pin this fold as needed. Use a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine and stitch through both layers along the long edge.
Step 6: If any of your folded strips don’t measure 60″ in length, feel free to sew additional stitched tubes of fabric to the end, as shown here. (I just poked one tube inside the other and zig zag stitched across the tube where they joined.) Don’t forget to backstitch to anchor the thread. After all your piecing and stitching, you should have three fabric tubes measuring 3″ x 60″.
Step 7: Gather up two scraps of sturdy fabric (I used heavy cotton) that measure about 2″ x 12″. You want them long enough so that when they are folded in half they will still accommodate an eye hook or regular hook. You can use a wide ribbon for this step as well. These scraps will form the hanging loops on your garland.
Step 8: To begin your garland, you will need to stitch a hanging loop to one end. To do this, you’ll want to taper the ends of the fabric tubes a little. So, line up your three long fabric tubes and stack them on top of each other. Pin through all layers about 6″ from the ends. Now, above this pin, carefully fold each fabric tube in half lengthwise. Re-align all these folded tubes so they’re stacked on top of each other again.
Step 9: Gather up one loop piece and fold under about 1/2″ at one end. Place this on top of the folded ends of your long fabric tubes. While still holding all of this in place, fold under the other end of the loop piece and position it to rest on the back side of the folded fabric tubes. It will be a sandwich, of sorts, with the ends of your loop as the bread with the ends of the fabric tubes as your filling. Pin into place.
Step 10: Use that trusty zig-zag again and anchor the whole shebang together by creating a stitched square on top of all the layers. Trim the threads. You should now have a happy looped end.
Step 11: Pin the loop onto the back of your sofa or chair, or onto a tablecloth that is anchored down. You are going to loosely braid the whole happy thing.
Step 12: Begin loosely braiding. After every two rounds or so, thread a ribbon loop onto one of the fabric tubes and slide it up to meet the braid in progress. Then continue braiding so that the ribbon loop gets caught in the braid. If you wish to bypass this part, do not make your loops as in Step 2, but add them after you braid it all up, securing the loop ends with a dab of glue. Give the glue plenty of time to dry before you use your garland.
Step 13: When you near the end of your braid, finish the end with another loop as in Steps 7-10. Add a clothespin to each loop and get ready to hang some toys!
Step 14: Find a happy home and hang your garland from a sturdy place. Screw hooks are perfect. You can hang your garland either vertically or horizontally, which is awesome. If you plan to hang it vertically, you can omit the second end loop and finish your garland with a big knot. And remember that if you hang it vertically, all of the weight will be carried by one hook instead of two, so make sure you secure it well to your wall.
You can also add more ribbon loops and clothespins than I did, so that your garland accommodates more softies. Make sure your kiddos know that this is not a Tarzan swing to prevent any heads getting knocked around. Happy organizing!
About the Author:
Jessica Wilson is most happily known as ‘jek in the box’ and spends most of her time crafting it up and taking pictures. She can often be found standing on benches over on Flickr and creating all sorts of kiddie crafts on her blog scrumdilly-do! She lives a life of scrumdillydilly and loves to share.