Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Upcycled Easter Centerpiece

March is "National Craft Month".  I sincerely hope everyone celebrates by crafting more than ever, or crafting for the very first time!  March is also the start of the Easter season, and that's where the inspiration for this craft comes into play.

A few Christmas' ago my husband received the BEST gift basket!  The basket was shaped like a top hat and was filled to the brim (Ha, bad pun!) with delicious treats.  I loved the basket so much I kept it around, but knew I wanted to do something a little different with it.  So, here is the original:

No...I am not that bad of a housekeeper!  It has been stored in my husband's woodworking shop (I swear).  And here is what I transformed it into:

Here's what you need:
Top hat basket
Bunny pattern
Sand paper
Craft paint
1/3 yard of good quality muslin
Scrap of green fabric for lettuce
Ribbon for lettuce (wired), trim on hat and carrot tops (not wired)
2 black buttons 
Floral wire

1. Lightly sand your basket.  You could probably get away without sanding it; it's not like this needs to hold up to lots of wear and tear.  Paint with your favorite easter color.  Make sure you use a stiff paintbrush that you don't like to paint the basket.  You really need to get into those nooks to cover up that black.

2. Find your favorite bunny or teddy bear pattern; you will only need to make the head and hands.  I can't share the pattern I used because it's copyrighted, but there are tons of patterns out there on the web.  The pattern I used was for a 16" bear.  I wanted something big enough so he would take up about half of the opening. 
3. Sew the head and hands.  Add "fingers" to the hands by stitching two lines per paw about 3" up.  Stuff loosely.
4. Take a piece of floral wire that is about as long as the paw and twist the end over so it isn't sharp.  Insert it into the middle finger of the paw.  This is so you will be able to bend it slightly so the bunny looks like he is gripping the top of the basket.  Do the same for the ears (but do not stuff them).

5. After you stuff your rabbit's head add the button eyes.  I sewed mine into place, but you could glue them in place if you prefer.

6. Paint your bunny.  I used two coats of a "latte" color and a pale pink for the ears and nose.  I wrapped his eyes with foil so they wouldn't get paint on them.

That is one creepy rabbit!

7. After the paint is dry lightly sand the rabbit to smooth the surface.  Make sure you use a light touch; you don't want to sand off all the paint!  I took a pink sharpie and added an outline around the ears and nose just to give a little more contrast.  I also used the leftover wire from my head of lettuce to make whiskers for Mr. Rabbit.  Just thread it through a needle, poke it in one side and out the other.  Not only are being thrifty...the wire easily bends into whatever shape you want.

8.  On to the head of lettuce.   I cut a piece of green fabric the size of a dinner plate and ran a gathering stitch around the edge.  Gather into a circle making sure you leave a spot large enough to add stuffing.

9. Stuff and sew the opening closed.  

10. Take your wired ribbon and pull a tiny bit of the wire out.  Tie it into a knot or "stitch" it through the ribbon.  You are going to be using the wire to gather the ribbon so you DON'T want it to pull through.  Gather the ribbon.  I used three yards and probably gathered it down to one yard.

11.  Leaving about an inch, cut the excess wire off.  Don't throw it away!  You will use it for whiskers later on.

12.  Just like you are making a ribbon rose, start a small roll on the end and stitch onto the top of your lettuce head.  Wind it around and around, stitching into place as you go.  I left about an inch between rows.

My three yards did not cover the whole lettuce head, but it doesn't need to.  Not only will you be tucking into the basket, but I thought the exposed bottom actually looked like a real head of lettuce.

Love how the lettuce turned out!!

13. Next it is time to make some carrots.  I made chenille carrots.  Here's my post on how to make chenille.  If you don't want to make chenille carrots you can just use orange fabric.  My carrots are about 10" long.  The green tops were made with 3/8" unwired ribbon that I made about five 6" loops and tucked into the top of the carrot AFTER it has been stuffed, but BEFORE you sew it shut.

14. Load up your basket.  You will find that you need to fill it about half way before you start adding your veggies and rabbit or else it will just sink in.  Here's my secret: ssshhhhh....I just grabbed some flannel I had lying around and stuffed it until it was about half full.  I'm guessing you could use newspaper, or styrofoam scraps, but I wouldn't spend any money on whatever you use.  Cover your filling with a scrap of green fabric so it blends with the lettuce, although you could use brown so it looks like garden soil! 

15. Tuck Mr. Rabbit and all his veggies into place.  Now is the time to gently bend the hands and ears to get them into position.

16.  Wrap ribbon around the base and add a bow.

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