Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hoop Jack-O-Lanterns

Normally I don't like to make long blog posts, but sometimes it is necessary for a tutorial.  Be on the look out for a video tutorial on how to make these hoop jack-o-lanterns in October.  The technique that I used to make these jack-o-lanterns is called reverse applique.  It is a quilting technique that I learned how to do last year.

You will need an old shirt or felted sweater that is orange, an embroidery hoop frame, black felt, a green pipe cleaner, and a black marker.  You will also need some black paint, black thread, a sewing machine, an open toe presser foot, and scissors that are curved at the end (pictured further below).

I painted the top/outer hoop black.

Lay the felt on top of the hoop.
The felt is eco-fi felt, which is made from recycled plastic bottles.

Lay the shirt over the felt and the hoop, then place the outer hoop over them (sandwiching the layers together).

Trim off the excess fabric.  
You might want to leave some of the excess fabric around the small hoops.
You'll see why further below.

Draw fun faces on them as you would a pumpkin.
I did a google image search for Jack-o-lantern faces to get more face ideas.

You'll want to use an open toe foot on your sewing machine so that you can see the marker line.  Also set the straight stitch smaller / shorter than normal (more stitches per inch).  Then sew over all of your marker lines.

Here is the back.

You will need a pair of these scissors for the next step.  Notice how the end in curved up.

Make a hole through the top layer of fabric with the tip of the scissors.  Butt the scissors against the sewn line and cut.  See how one side of the scissors is under the 1st layer of fabric and the other side is on top?  By cutting against the sewn line while the scissors are flat against the surface, you can cut out the 1st layer of fabric within your line without cutting your stitches.

Here is the mouth completely cut out.  Now we can see the black felt showing through.

Cut out the rest of the face.

Next you need to sew a satin stitch around all of your cut edges.  I have mine set at 2 wide and 0.5 long (Bernina 220).  Play around with this stitch on a scrap piece of fabric first to see what length and width that you like best.  If you are sewing two layers of felt together, then you can choose any decorative stitch.  The felt won't fray, but regular fabric will.  So I needed a satin stitch to make sure that the shirt didn't fray.

A close up.

When finished, flip it over and run glue around the hoop to secure it and the fabric.

The smaller hoops are just to small for the sewing machine.  So pin the 2 layers of fabric together and take them out of the hoop.

Repeat the above steps.

Then place it in the hoop, trim the excess fabric, and glue around the back of the hoop.

For the green stem, just insert the pipe cleaner through the center of the hoop's clasp (that metal part at the top).  Fold it in half and give it one or two twists to secure it.  Then wrap each end around a fat marker to curl it.

Now you have some really cute Halloween decorations for your wall.  My quilt guild really liked these, and so does my husband.  My favorite part is that you can make these for less than $10.


  1. what a clever use of embroidery hoops! super cute! found you on the someday crafts wednesday link party. feel free to jump on over :-0

  2. I forgot to add that this was inspired by this blog post:

  3. Great idea! I love this! I'm highlighting this at

  4. Thank you everyone and thank you Michelle for featuring it on your blog.

  5. I have just recently started seeing the embroidery hoop ideas...I think I first saw it at Design Dazzle, I can't wait to make my own!

  6. These are so cute. I really like that you showed us the reverse applique technique. This is also a great use of embroidery hoops.

  7. Clever! Why oh why did I just donate a couple hoops to the thrift store???? Bad Bethy!

  8. Those are really cute!! I chenille stems make me smile!!

  9. What a unique idea!! They are adorable!!