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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Darling Thread Spool Christmas Ornaments - A Complete Tutorial

EDITED 12/27/09 to ADD: These are great little tree ornaments, but they can also be used as tassels around your workshop, on your kitchen cabinets, even on your rearview mirror in the car. (which I just happen to have in my own car!)
It seems this project has gotten a lot of exposure in blogland already, so rather than post each link up individually (which makes this post grow even longer), I decided to shorten it up a bit.
I'm linking up with all the following blog parties. Please be sure to go visit them after you've read through mine.
Funky Junk's Weekly Saturday Night Special
 The DIY Showoff's Holiday Highlights Party. (Made the features!)
It's so Very Creative with It's So very Cheri
Head on over to Infarrantly Creative for Pennywise Presents

Joining another party over at Cottage Instincts with these great ornaments.

Tuesday is DIY day over at A Soft Place to Land. These ornaments are the cutest and easist DIY I've done in a long time, so I wanted to share over there also.
Really, I'm stopping after this one.  But I had to join Today's Creative Blog with Get Your Craft On.

I spent several hours making these charming little tree ornaments last night. I was so pleased with the way they turned out that I wanted to share with you how to make some of your own.

These would be great for most anybody on your list, the seamstress, the crafter, or even yourself.
I happened upon a bundle of vintage wooden spools in an antique store a while back and have been saving them for the perfect project. So, taking a cue from a photo I once saw of some paper covered spools, and adding my own spin, I fashioned these great little ornaments for the tree. I suppose these could also be used as a tassel. Ohhh, imagine these hanging off the knobs on the cabinets in your work space!

Anyhoo, Here's how to make your own:
First you'll need to gather all of your supplies. Don't be caught needing something in the middle of your project.
Start by gathering your spools and some pretty papers. (When choosing papers, select some that contrast. If you choose ones that are too matchy, your ornaments won't pop as much when they are all together.)
If you can't find vintage wooden spools, you can buy some smaller wooden ones in the unfinished wood section of your craft local store.
Then rally up the rest of your goodies. You'll need the following:
Beads in multiple sizes, shapes, and colors
Jewelry wire or heavy thread
Needles in various sizes:
 One to fit inside the beads, one to fit the length of the spools, and one to sew through the ribbon
Double Stick Tape, heavy duty, thick width, or Mod Podge
Paints in various colors, Apple Barrel or Ceramacoat work great for these small projects
Small paint brushes, you'll need several so you won't have to wash them in between color changes
Small Ribbons, various colors or patterns, 1/8" works best
Drill and a very small bit, about 1/8"
Clear Drying Craft Glue, be sure that it's a good one, and it MUST dry clear. For those of you that use E6000, it will yellow over time. Don't use hot glue for this project, not even high melt. It will separate over time also. The wood is not pourous enough to support it well.
Dowel Caps, small (you can find these in the unfinished wood section of the craft store)
Pliers and Tweezers
A Scrap piece of wood

Ok, let's get started!!

Part 1

Measure all of your spools for the width and length you'll be covering up. Lay out your papers, mark your measurements, and start cutting. Since your spools will most likely be different sizes, you'll want to number them. Put your number in the middle of the spool since you won't be painting over that part.

Cut your papers and number them as well. This way you won't get confused as to which paper goes to which spool.
Once you have all of your papers cut, and your spools and papers numbered, set the papers aside.

It's time to paint your spools and dowel caps. Gather a few colors that match your fabrics. You only need to paint the ends and a little way into edge. Hold the middle while you paint both ends. After you paint each one, thread it onto a small wire so that the paint isn't touching anything while it dries. I use one of those 24" needles for things like this.
Before you paint your dowel caps, you'll need to drill a small hole in the top. Turn them upside down, grip them in the circular part of a pair of pliers, and drill softly through them into a piece of wood.
Since these are a bit tricky to paint, I put my tweezers through the hole from the top and paint them while holding that way. Makes it much easier!

Part 2
While your spools and caps are drying, lay out all of your paper strips and start planning how you want to attach your beads. For the biggest impact, use varying sizes, shapes, and colors on each one. I used a lot of the same beads on most of mine, but mixed them into different drop patterns.

Once all the paint is dry you can start putting the papers on the spools. I use heavy duty double stick tape for this, but you can use Mod Podge if you want.
When you have the paper on, your spools should look like the one in the last picture.

Now, glue a dowel cap to one end of each spool and set aside to dry while you thread the beads. This end will be the bottom of your ornament.

Part 3
Take your jewelry wire or heavy thread (I use upholstery thread), and begin to thread your beads. When you get to the last bead, wrap the thread on the outside of the last bead and start to pull your needle back through the others, all the way to the top.
Leave enough thread or wire that you can go back to these later and pull them through the spools.

Set all of your prepared bead drops aside. Take the rest of the dowel caps, prepare a hanging ribbon and push it though the small hole. Knot the ends several times until you have a knot big enough to hold without pulling through.

Part 4
It's time to start threading the bead drops into  the spools. Use the needle that has a thick enough eye for the thread, but thin enough shaft to push through all those knots in the ribbons. I use my pliers to pull them through.
Once you've threaded the beads through the spool, grab one of your hanging ribbons, and push the thread through the knot in the ribbon.
Next, remove your needle and pull the thread (one in each hand) until the knot is sitting right at the top of the spool. Then tie a few knots in the thread. Cut it off, leaving about 1/8" tip on the threads.

Now that your knot is secure, put glue on the end as shown in the picture. Cover the ribbon knot, which will in turn cover the thread knot. Hang your ornament up and then push the dowel cap all the way down. Let it hang until it dries.

When you're all done with that, you're all done!
Here's what you'll have:

Aren't these just darling?! I'll be selling mine in the etsy store, but I think I'll make me some more when I find more wooden spools. If you have any you don't want....uhhh....just send them on my way please!
Happy Crafting!


  1. These are so beautiful Polly!! I've never seen anything quite like them which is what makes them even more brilliant!

    So unique! I love your stuff. :)


  2. Oh yes, absolutely darling! I already had out some spools and planned to cover some in scrapbook paper. But your idea is much better. Doubt I'll be able to manage the beads, however. It's terribly hard to do small things like beads with arthritis in your fingers. (Car wreck, subsequent surgeries, yada-yada.) But yours are adorable and you gave the specific instructions so very well!

  3. These are sooo cute! Your blog is great, I'm glad I found it!

  4. These are really neat, Polly! Who'd think to use spools this way! They make for great ornaments.

  5. These are so cute.I want to thank you for sharing the info on them as well.Im sure maybe soon I will try some,if I have time.

    Have a great new week!

  6. These are just charming!!! I have to give the project a try. You really made it sound doable!


  7. So cute Polly...Thanks for sharing! xoxo~Kathy @ Sweet Up-North Mornings...

  8. Thank you ladies. I made them and thought -"Ok, I have to share these!". I'm glad I did. For those of you who don't want to bother with making them, check my etsy shop tomorrow. I have 11 of them for sale!

  9. I love them. Please post to my party Its So Very Creative-its up on Sunday Nights


  10. Never thought about using spools for ornaments. . . love that idea!

  11. These are adorable!!

    Thanks for sharing the how to's


    barbara jean

  12. How adorable! Your instructions made the project look doable for even the craft challenged :-)
    Have a fab day!

  13. Polly:
    These are really great. I have a huge jar of wood spools (I have a mother who has sewn for over 70 years and she saved a lot of the wood spools over the years)....I have the scrapbook paper and some beads so I'm pretty much set to create some of my own. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial.

  14. These are so cute, I have to make some !

  15. Oh, my gosh! Those are so sweet! What a great idea...thanks for the tutorial!


  16. Those SERIOUSLY rock! LOVEEEE them!

  17. Those are really so cute and the fact that you are willingto share how to do them is sweet. I have a whole jar full of those spools just calling my name right now. You made it seem so simple. I'm sure yours will sell right away. And thanks for all the Diy etc. links. I will check them out.

  18. Gorgeous ornaments! I'll be hunting through my sewing box before the day is through! Thanks for sharing!

  19. I'm so glad you joined my Monday party too....I saw your awesome spool ornaments on the DIY ShowOff and was like, WOW! So glad you posted this tutorial. I'll be collecting spools now on my jaunts to antique malls and flea markets :)

  20. I LOVE students sew in school and I always save the I have a new project to try...Thanks for the great idea!

  21. Hi again...You have a photo of cocoa sitting on a black and white checkered placemat - did you buy it or make it? I love the fabric print!

  22. Gosh, so many compliments. I'm so glad you all like these ornaments. I hope you all make some for yourselves.

    Patti, to answer your question, they are placemats. One side is black and cream check and the other is black with a big rooster on it. I got them in Santa Fe a few years ago. The side with the rooster has a word across the top that says "Chanticleer". Maybe you could do a search on them.

    I've seen them in other boutiques style kitchen stores since then though.

  23. Grand idea--I think I'll steal it! :) Thanks for sharing.

  24. Love the spool ornaments! They're so origianl.

  25. So beautiful! I love them - they are just perfection :)

  26. Those are adorable...come on link up to one more party....I am having a PEnnywise Presents party currently and these fit the bill.

  27. These are amazing, the time you spent creating them really pays off.

  28. I LOVE THESE and have some spools but not enough for all 4 kids to make one so I will have to go get some more but this is a muxt do project this year.

    Thanks for linking to the party.
    I will click to follow and add you to my subscriptions if you have that feature on your blog.
    Do you want to know why
    I am both following and subscribing? Check out my blog for the Google update.

  29. You've been featured--come check it out.

  30. My daughter would love the black and white one to hang off a lamp or somehting in her room.

  31. Soooooooo adorable,thank you! Love your blog!


  32. I just shared this on my blog:

    Feel free to grab my Featured Button on the right sidebar if you like.



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