I have to give a few disclaimers up front:
1. The photos are really, really bad. (did i mention bad?)
2. Because I had to use florescent light. Because it was nighttime when I took them. And I don't feel much like taking them over. ; )
3. Ethan had to take some of these because I don't have three hands. I had to interrupt him watching Sunny, poor guy.
4. Please excuse my absolutely gnarly hands... i'm a chronic nail-biter... for like my whole life. Like til they bleed. It's not pretty. Hence the ugly fingers. Oh, and I obsessively wash my hands and use sanitizer because I'm afraid of the flu(s). Hence the dry skin.
Now that that's out of the way!
Here's what you need:
1. Fabric. (I used a diverse mix of vintage sheets, velvet and new patterned fabrics. If your fabric is sheer (like my "burnout" silk/rayon velvet floral, you'll need to back it with a solid cotton. I used just a regular cream linen.)
2. Scissors/Rotary Cutter (whichever you like to use best)
3. Straight edge (ruler)
5. Embroidery Floss
6. Tape measure
7. Self-healing mat
8. Polyester Fiberfill (to stuff your pumpkins with)
9. Sewing pins
10. Vanishing marker/pen
11. Embroidery needles
12. Long embroidery needle (i think what I got was a basting needle) OR if you plan on using yarn, you'll need a plastic yarn needle (this worked REALLY well for me on the larger pumpkins.. if you crochet or knit, this is something you probably already have.
13. Sewing machine (optional)Step One:
I'll remind you that I got my initial instructions for these from Martha Stewart Living Nov. 2009 issue. (edited: i had to bold and enlarge that because 2 people have left me poo-ey comments saying that i didn't site her as inspiration.. obviously people don't read, since i mention the issue several times in this tutrorial. And as you can see, I have made several changes to the instructions based on what worked best for me.)
But as you may have experienced (like me), alot of times Martha's instructions are vague.. and they show the steps all in one photo that's about 3 x 3 inches (if we're lucky).
Silly Martha.. you must talk to us like we're dumb.
So above.. you need to cut out your piece of fabric. Martha suggests you cut on the bias which i did for the first few pumpkins.. but then i got lazy and didn't.. and it didn't make a difference from what i could see. I'm not a pro-sewer here folks.. and i'm sure an avid sewer would see the difference. But for what I was creating.. it didn't seem to make a difference.
But if you want to cut on the bias.. here are some instructions on how to do that.
I used a rotary cutter to cut my fabric b/c i find it easier than using scissors. That is again probably b/c i'm not an avid sewer. ;-) I use the rotary cutter with my ruler to cut in a straight line.
The size of your fabric should be twice as long as it is wide.. i.e. a 6"x12", or a 9"x18", etc. I made some very small pumpkins and my largest is a finished size of around 12"x12". A grouping of several sizes makes for a great table centerpiece, or put them on a shelf, etc.
Once you've cut your fabric, fold it in half so that the wrong side of the fabric is on the outside.
Now thread a regular embroidery needle with 2-ply embroidery thread (embroidery thread usually comes with 6 strands, but just use 2 of those for this.. might be easier to work with.) Knot the end of your thread.
Now I know you're thinking "why is she telling me how to knot my thread, too?!"... i do tutorials based on the assumption that no one knows how to do anything. ;-) So here's my favorite method of knotting my thread when hand-stitching.. I learned this in like 5th grade art class and it blows my mind that I still knot this way today! Read knot-tying method number 2 here (scroll down about half-way down the page).
If you're hand-stitching, drawing a line on your fabric about a half inch from the edge (using a pen or vanishing marker.. doesn't really matter because it will be on the inside of your pumpkin, so it won't be seen) might help you keep your stitches straight, especially if you're doing a larger pumpkin where you'll be stitching a while. Here's where you can cut down on time and use your sewing machine if you want to. I did break down and do that with my largest pumpkin, but hand-stitching this is a breeze as well, just takes a little more time. You will draw this line along the side where you've brought your ends together. Pin this end of your fabric square as well, using sewing pins, if you'd like your fabric to stay together nicely while you're stitching.. this is optional, but might make things easier as well.
Now stitch along this line. If you hand-stitch, use the backstitch. Super easy. :-)
All done. Make sure to secure your thread when your done stitching. Here's a way to do it. I did it a lazy way by just doing a few satin stitches next to my last backstitch, and then snipped the thread. No one will see them so it doesn't really matter in this situation. ;-)
Step Three: Now pick either the top or bottom of your square (doesn't matter which) of fabric and do a running stitch along the edge (again with a half inch or so seam-allowance like you did in the last step). Draw a line first to make your stitching easier.
Now you can secure your thread and snip. (again, i did a few satin stiches and then snipped my thread.)
Now for the stuffing.
Now flip your fabric inside out.
Now start stuffing your shape with polyfill.
and just when you think you've stuffed enough, stuff some more. (this was my first mistake on my first pumpkin i made.. he wasn't stuffed enough)...
When your stuffing is pretty much spilling out the top, then you've stuffed enough. :-)
Step Five: Now for another running stitch.
Thread your regular embroidery needle again, knot the end, and do a running stitch around the top of your stuffed shape.
Now, pull your needle and thread (like you did before) with one hand while holding your stuffed shape.
Pull til you can't pull anymore and while holding your cinched fabric together with one hand, secure your thread with the other hand/needle. I did a bunch of whipstitches (below) to secure the thread and to keep the pumpkin closed.. don't worry if it looks messy, it will be covered up by your "pumpkin stem".
Step Five: Now it's time to give your pumpkin some shape.In Martha's article, they used embroidery thread to do this, which I think works fine on the smaller pumpkins.. but once your pumpkins start getting larger, it gets harder to use embroidery thread.. especially because of the sharp needle you're using (you'll see why). I used both methods, but in my opinion, I think it's easier to just use the plastic yarn needle and yarn instead. So that is the method I'm going to show you here. (this is something I did just to see if it would work, and surprisingly, the large plastic needle goes through the fabric just fine!)
Thread your needle with your yarn, and knot the end. Make sure to cut a very long piece because it needs to wrap all the way around your pumpkin several times.
Flip your stuffed fabric shape over.
Stick your needle in the center...
(ok, let's just acknowledge the elephant in the room.. yes, this looks like what you think it does. Lol! ew. Or maybe i'm just surrounded by boys too much and have my mind in the potty too much.)
So now you're going to to pull your needle through to the other side of your pumpkin. this is why a plastic needle works better than a sharp needle.. i stabbed myself more times than I can count. Again, works much better on the larger pumpkins.
Pull it through...
Now you're going to pull your needle and yarn down and back through the bottom of your pumpkin, and repeat all the way around your pumpkin. Up through the bottom, through the top, back down and up through the bottom, through the top, etc.
Pull tightly as you go around. This was my 2nd mistake when i made my first pumpkin. I didn't pull tight enough. The tighter you pull, you'll get more defined "sections" around your pumpkin. It will look more like a pumpkin, and not just a fabric ball with strings around it.
Once you've made it all the way around, make sure you're still pulling tightly. Snip your yarn leaving several inches.
Now you want to tie off your yarn to secure it. Keep it taught, just wrap it around one of the loops of yarn going around the pumpkin...
And pull... do this several times to knot it and secure it. You don't want your long piece of yarn unraveling and losing your pumpkin shape.
Your pumpkin is done!
you can pull and stretch your fabric to make it look nicer and to smooth out the creases.
Now make your stem.
Draw a stem shape on your choice of fabric (on the wrong side of the fabric). Doesn't have to be perfect. :-) Just make it a good size that will be proportional to the size of your pumpkin. Cut it out.
Lay it on top of another scrap of fabric and trace around it.
Cut it out.
Pin it to hold the pieces together and start backstitching all the way around leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance...
Secure your thread and snip.
Now turn your "stem" inside out.
And whipstitch closed...
Now take your stem over to your pumpkin...
And whipstitch it into the center of the top of your pumpkin... it's a little hard to get in there with your needle, but you can do it. ;-) You might stab your fingers a few times,, just be careful!
Make sure to secure your thread really well and snip.
You're done! :-)
If you feel like getting even more creative, whipstitch a doily onto one of your pumpkins like I did, or embroider your fabric with embroidery thread or yarn before you sew and stuff it. I hope to add some embroidery to mine before Thanksgiving gets here.
Please share links to your pumpkins in this post if you make some! I'd love to see! :-) If you have any questions let me know.