top of page

On the 9th Day of Stitchmas... Applique Ornament Tutorial

I'm kind of an ornament snob in that I (almost) exclusively put glass ornaments on my Christmas tree. My parents started a tradition of giving each of us kids one beautiful glass ornament for Christmas when we were young. That way when we moved out on our own we had a great start to decorating our own tree. I kept up the tradition for my own kids, and my husband, and we now have a very full tree of beautiful ornaments.

But that doesn't mean I don't love all ornaments, especially handmade ones! I just find other places around the house to display them: cabinet knobs, doorknobs, shelves, windows, etc.

These ornaments are a great little project to use up the scraps you've collected throughout the year and can be so much more than an ornament (if Christmas isn't your holiday or ornaments aren't your thing): gift tags, framed as wall art, turned into potpourri sachets. It's endless! Check out the bottom of the post for some other options.

As a side note: please excuse how dark these photos are. I was squeezing in photographing this tutorials before the baby arrived and sadly not every free day could be sunny and beautiful!


-Scraps, scraps, scraps galore! Pull a variety of different sized scraps from your stash and give them a good press.

-Two bigger scraps, at least 6" x 6", to be used as the main background and the backing of the ornament

-A scrap of batting or fusible fleece interfacing, at least 6"x 6". Fusible fleece interfacing gives an added stiffness to the ornament, but batting works very well too!

-Scraps of double sided fusible adhesive like Wunder Under

-Satin or grosgrain ribbon. I like thicker ribbon, but any thickness will work and thinner is better if hanging on a tree. At least 2.5" per ornament

-Circle template. My ornaments are about 5" in diameter. I just find something round that's about the size I want and trace it off.

-Thread. I like to use black for appliqueing on the pieces and one that coordinates with the fabric color for assembling the ornament.

1. Design your project. Peace and love are two of my favorite motifs for the holidays (and year round) so I chose to make a peace dove for my first ornament. You don't have to be an awesome artist for this project! Do you see all my erased lines? You can also find clip art online and print it off on regular paper at the correct size before tracing it.

Take your Double Sided Fusible adhesive. You'll feel that one side is rough (the adhesive side) and one side is papery. It's easier to draw on the paper side, but keep in mind that you'll have a mirror image of whatever you draw.

Either trace your circle template on to the Adhesive or place the Adhesive over the template to give you a guide. You want your motif to be at least 1/4" (and preferably a touch more, I pushed the boundaries here) inside the circle to allow for seam allowance. I like to include the entire drawing, even the parts that won't be cut out of fabric to make sure everything fits. If you have elements to your drawing that will require multiple layers of fabric you may want to trace off a couple of copies of your motif on to Adhesive.

2. Cut around your motif and place, adhesive (rough) side down on the wrong side of a scrap of fabric. Follow the Adhesive instruction to fuse the pieces together. This typically just involves placing the iron on top of the paper until the adhesive melts.

3. Cut around the outside lines of your drawing (cut off anything that will be done in another fabric or sketched with the thread). See how the final image is in reverse?

4. Using your template, cut out 3 circles: 1 from your main fabric, 1 from the Fusible Fleece interfacing and 1 from your backing.

5. Peel off the backing from your motif, place it on the main fabric and press with an iron. If you're using multiple layers of fabric (like in my tree version) fuse them all before going on to the next step. If you find that as your peeling the paper from the motif the adhesive is coming too, hit it again with the iron. It's just not melted enough!

6. Now you have two choices: you can do your thread painting "freehand" without any guidelines or draw out where you want the thread to go with a disappearing marker. My drawing skills are sub-par so I don't trust myself to just wing it.

7. Load the black thread into your machine. Set your stitch length to small (I usually use about 1.5). As you stitch you want to make sure you sew around the edge of the pieces of appliqued fabric along with any of your details. Start with a small backstitch or leave your threads long enough to pull to the back and knot.

8. Don't worry if you can't sew the whole thing with one continuous line of stitching. I have several starts and stops and line cross over. It adds to the artistic look of the piece in my opinion!

9. Fold your piece of ribbon in half and sew along the top of the ornament. I basted it here, but I would strongly suggest using a smaller stitch and backstitching on both ends. It holds up to the turning process in later steps better!

10. Fuse the fusible fleece interfacing to the back of the ornament piece following manufacturer's instructions. If you're using batting jump to the next step for instructions.

11. Time to make our mini ornament sandwich! Place your backing piece right sides together with your ornament piece. If you're using batting (and not fusible fleece) make your sandwich like this: batting, ornament piece right side up, backing piece right side down. Pin around the exterior as shown, making sure you get all your layers.

12. Starting on the right side of your ribbon sew with a narrow (1/4" seam allowance). Take your time with the curves and stop about 2" from where you started. Backstitch at both the beginning and end.

13. Time to notch! You have two options here: clip or notch. Clips are just little cuts in the seam allowance that go close to but not through the line of stitching every 1/2" or so. This allows the fabric to curve nicely when you turn the ornament inside out. HOWEVER, notching (as shown below) will give you an even smoother look. With clipping you may see the bulk of the seam allowance through the fabric after turning, with notching you won't. It's worth the extra time, but if you're in a rush I wouldn't worry about it! To notch, make little triangles where the point of the triangle goes close to, but not through, the line of stitching.

14. Carefully turn your ornament right side out through the gap left at the top near the ribbon. Make sure to push out all the curves and give it a good press.

15. You can top stitch all around the ornament (to be honest, I'm not in love with my topstitching here. I clear got distracted toward the end) or hand stitch the gap closed from the back of the ornament. And you're done! It may seem like a lot of steps, but once you get into a flow you can knock out several of these in an hour!


Some other options:

- Save time with all the circle bits (sewing circles, notching, etc) by making your ornament rectangular.

- Use them as a gift tag and sketch on a "to:" and "from:" piece

- Use different color sketching threads to highlight different parts of the piece

- Omit the fusible fleece and use wool felt for the main and backing pieces. When sewing, place front and back wrong sides together and sew close to edge. Finish with pinking shears for a vintage look. Just make sure your felt is 100% wool (not the eco-felt you can get at craft stores). You don't want it to melt in the fusing process! This is definitely the quickest method.


Happy Stitching!


46 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page