A Tutorial: The Upcycled Christmas Ornament

Good gracious I LOVE getting mail. But dang it if there isn’t a spoilsport in the mailbox here at The Hipster Home. Of what do I speak? Ohh you know, those junk ad bundles with the coupons to Anna’s Linens and LensCrafters! Those things are made out of the cheapest paper, are just terribly designed and don’t arrive without being a half crinked, wrinkly mess. And I’m always a little worried that there is other perfectly good mail caught in them since these ads pass swiftly from my hands into outbox: recycling bin. I’ve always thought “Wouldn’t it be nice to use those terrible ads to make something? They’re free, we get so many of them and it’d be almost profound to make something useful out of such waste.” And so my Freshly Blended ornament swap inspiration was born. While it is true that I used a holiday Target catalog for the ornaments I sent to my swap-mates, you can make these little guys for your home tree out of any colorful junk mail you receive. Oh sweet Hipster Home, where even mail spam is craft material!

What you’ll need:

  • junk mailers or a catalog
  • festive ribbon
  • ornament shape template, printed
  • paper clips, 4 per ornament
  • scissors
  • a threaded sewing machine
  • a ruler
  • a pencil

Directions: Print (or create) a shape template for your ornament. I’ve got a PDF of my shape available to you, but you can make your own. Since you want the ornament to be even all around, you only need half of a template. If you opt to make your own shape, I recommend folding a piece of paper horizontally ┬áthen vertically. You can cut along the open edges and when its unfolded you’ll have a perfectly symmetrical shape that would probably look rad.┬áThe remainder of the instructions below are for my ornament shape but if you can use this as a guide if you decide to try a wackier shape.

Cut an approximately 2.5 x 5.5 inch strip of stiff paper. You’ll use this rectangle as a guide for cutting out 8 pieces of junk mail and 1 stiff rectangle (like a catalog cover) per ornament.

Make an ornament sandwich: 4 lightweight rectangles, 1 stiff paper rectangle in the middle and another 4 lightweight rectangles. Secure on 4 corners with paperclips.

Cut a 4-inch ribbon. Fold it in half and slip the ribbon ends into the ornament sandwich. You’ll want to put one end in front of the stiff paper in the middle and the other ribbon end in back of the stiff paper. Secure it with a paper clip. The stiff paper base in the middle of your ornament makes it easier to fold and fan the lightweight paper when the time comes.

Using a ruler, eyeball where the center of the paper is and trace a line from the top of the ornament sandwich to the bottom lengthwise.

Set your sewing machine stitch length to 5.0. If the stitch length is too close together, the paper will perforate right up the middle and you don’t want that. Starting opposite your ribbon loop, sew up the traced line, reversing your stitch a little once you reach the top. This will prevent stitch unraveling. Be careful not to stitch the paperclips and take them out when the paper is secure.

Line up your template with the center stitched line and trace your half ornament template onto the paper. Flip the template over the sewed center and trace the other half of the ornament. You should now have the ornament outline traced onto the top paper of the ornament sandwich.

Cut out the ornament along the traced line. When you’re done, your ornament should look like the above ornaments!

To fold your ornament so it fans out from the center, hold the sturdy middle sheet and use your fingers to fold the first sheet of paper into itself, over the sewn seam. Keep folding the sheets until you reach the middle and repeat on the other side of the ornament.

Chances are that the fans will be uneven but you can bend until evenly spaced.

Repeat until you’ve got a tree full of ’em!

As you can see, I mailed the ornaments in the calendar envelopes from my first post ever. I don’t think it gets more festive than this! If you make these ornaments yourself, be sure to show me your results. Happy holidays, ya’ll!

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